Feel lucky? Play the Diversity Lottery. For FY 2014, the US Department of State's Diversity Visa Lottery ("DV Lottery") will continue. Through the program, the State Department accepts DV Lottery applications from natives of countries sending fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the US in the preceding 5 years. The obvious purpose of the "DV Lottery" is to diversify the nationalities of immigrants coming to the US in furtherance of our long history as a "melting pot". Millions of people play and up to 50,000 win each year.
Of course, as with any lottery, you have to play to win. Applications are submitted on the electronic DV entry form found at www.dvlottery.state.gov and must be timely submitted electronically along with a digital photograph. The application period began October 2, 2012, and will end at noon, EDT, November 3, 2012. There is no fee to apply and, according to the State Department, no way for an attorney or agent or magician to enhance one's chances of winning.
A DV Lottery winner may apply to secure permanent residence in the US, as may the winner's spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age. The winner must meet the eligibility requirements of either a high school education or its equivalent or 2 years of work experience within the last 5 years in an occupation requiring 2 years or more of training--and all need to be otherwise admissible (no serious criminal history, no insurmountable J-1 waiver issues, to name a few examples).
Each applicant may submit only 1 application. For married couples, each may submit an application so long as one spouse is a native of an eligible country. Native means place of birth, not country of current citizenship. For DV-2014, the only ineligible countries are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, UK (except Northern Ireland) and Vietnam.
Beginning May 2013, the results will be posted. Most winners claim their greencards through the US Consulate in their homeland, processing their paperwork abroad. Those winners who are nonimmigrants lawfully present in the US and are eligible to adjust status may process in the US through USCIS. Unlike the process of playing the lottery, this is where it may be beneficial to engage the services of immigration counsel because time becomes of the essence in that this stage of processing must be concluded before the end of the fiscal year. Otherwise, a big win may become a disappointing loss.
Take a chance, there's nothing to lose for one seeking to become a permanent resident of the US.