The concept of nativity. 

The Diversity Lottery is pretty simple to understand and manage. The first step is understanding if you can actually participate. Let's go briefly through the self assessment of your eligibility for the DV-2009.

The first, central most important issue is your country of birth. Nativity is the word used by the American Government, NOT nationality. The only thing that matters is where you were born, not the passport or passports you carry.

In other word, if for instance you are a French citizen born in China, unfortunately you do not qualify. A French citizen who was born in France, or Singapore would instead qualify. The reason is that the Diversity Lottery has been established for people born in "low admission countries" the list of the countries which are NOT included is below. 

Flag at Ellis Island

The main point to stress is: what matters is the place where you were born. An important exception: if a person was born in an ineligible country, but neither of her parents was born there or resided there at the time of the birth, such person MAY be able to claim nativity in one of the parents' country of birth. If this is your case, you should probably contact a good immigration attorney to help you prepare your application.

Probably a more frequent one: if you were born in a country which is not admitted, but you are married to a citizen of an eligible country, you can apply. So to hold on to the previous example, if you were born in China, but your spouse was born in Germany, you are eligible to enter the Green Card Lottery. You will have to clarify that in your application, and I will explain you how to do it.

The countries which do NOT qualify for this diversity program (because they are the principal source countries of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration) are redefined year by year, because the evaluation is done on the # of immigrants during the previous year. The cut-off number is 50,000 immigrants in the previous year. This being the case, the list is updated every year to reflect the latest numbers. Some countries are always out, some hop in and out according to the most recent numbers. This year we have 2 new countries -Ecuador and Guatemala -who have already passed the magic number.

Countries which are are NOT eligible for the D.V. 2009. 
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China - mainland born - (People born in Taiwan and the Hong Kong and Macau S.A.R. are eligible and CAN enter the lottery),
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador (new)
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala (new)
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (natives of Northern Ireland are eligible; natives of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, MontSerat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, and the Turks and Caicos Islands are not eligible)
  • Vietnam

As you can see, the list is fairly short, albeit longer than last year, and gives a good idea of how concentrated to a handful of countries is immigration to the US in present times. In my humble opinion, the list is the best and most powerful justification to maintain the Lottery. 

So unless you were born in one of these countries - I am sorry - let's continue with the second important requisite.

Other requirements

You must have completed high school education or its equivalent, meaning studies spanning at least a 12 years.

It is permissible to have completed one's education in less than 12 years if the course of study completed is equivalent to a U.S. high school education. Call your consulate if you have any doubts.

You dropped out of school? There is still hope: the D.V. lottery is open to those who have, within the preceding five years, two years work experience in an occupation requiring at least two years training or experience.

For the DV 2011 The U.S. Department of Labor´s
O*Net OnLine database will be used to determine qualifying work experience. So the old Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles is not going to be used anymore.

Somewhere in that site, supposedly, lies the list of jobs which are admitted. It's an awfully complicated site, I warn you. I believe that if you start having troubles understanding whether you qualify or not, you should contact a reputable immigration lawyer and ask for a preliminary assessment of your professional skills. Ask for free evaluation, it might work. Anyway, I personally saw a fashion stylist pass the interview even though he did not meet the formal education requirements. If you are good at your job, and speak English, there's hope.

This is it, there are no other requirement - other than being lucky and win actually - to enter the lottery. The USA has other visa categories for allowing people with exceptional abilities or skills to immigrate.

The Diversity Lottery is aimed is at ordinary people and their families. The important thing is to pay a lot of attention when writing the application, and then providing all the documents required for the interview.