The 2012 Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, a program that allows selected applicants to obtain U.S. permanent resident ("green card") status by lottery, will be accepting entries from October 5, 2010 to November 3, 2010. The DV program is mandated by Congress and administered by the State Department on an annual basis. The purpose of the program is to provide immigration opportunities to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. A total of 50,000 DVs will be available in the 2012 DV lottery.

Eligible applicants must be natives of countries that did not send more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. This means that natives from the following countries are not eligible to apply in the 2012 DV lottery: Brazil, Canada, Mainland China (note that natives of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are eligible), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. If an applicant is born in the one of the above-listed countries, he may still qualify for the lottery by claiming nativity of his spouse's or parent's country of birth, if natives of that third country are eligible for the lottery.

In addition to the nativity requirement, eligible applicants must meet either the education or work experience requirement, as follows: the applicant must have either a high school education or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training.

To enter the lottery, an applicant must electronically complete and submit the DV entry form on the U.S. Department of State's website between noon, Eastern Daylight Time, Tuesday, October 5, 2010 and noon, Eastern Daylight Time, Wednesday, November 3, 2010. Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications as early as possible, as heavy demand during the final week of the application period may result in website delays. Each individual can submit only one entry. All entries by an individual will be disqualified if more than one entry for that individual is received, regardless of who submitted the extra entry or entries. A successfully registered entry will result in a confirmation screen containing the applicant's name and a unique confirmation number. Each applicant should print and retain a copy of the confirmation screen. There is no fee charged by the U.S. State Department to submit an entry for the 2012 DV lottery.

Applicants may use their confirmation numbers to check the status of their entries to determine whether they have been selected through the "Entry Status Check" link on the U.S. Department of State's website. Status information for the 2012 DV lottery will be available online from May 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Applicants will not otherwise be informed of the lottery result.

Persons who are selected through the lottery will be able to submit their green card applications between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012, depending on the order of selection as assigned by the State Department. The applications would either be submitted through the State Department (the immigrant visa process through a U.S. Embassy) or to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States (for those persons who are eligible to file for adjustment of their status).

Detailed instructions regarding the DV-2012 Lottery Instructions are available on the U.S. Department of State's website.