The US Department of State announced on its website the number of people from each region chosen for their 2013 visa lottery program, also known as the green card lottery. Those lucky enough to be chosen will then go through the application process to receive a visa granting them permanent residency in the good old US of A. Read on for more details about the lottery and to learn which parts of the world received the most visas.

The Diversity Visa Program is designed to encourage immigration from countries which have historically low levels of immigration to the US, and makes available up to 50,000 visas per year via a lottery system (although more than 50,000 people will be chosen as not all will qualify).

“Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. A limited number of visas are available each fiscal year. The DVs are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.”

The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with more visas available to the regions with the lowest levels of immigration, but with no country receiving more than 7 percent of the total visas available that year. Residents of countries that have sent over 50,000 immigrants to the US in the last 5 years are not eligible to apply. For 2015 these will be Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

Winners are chosen at random by a computer. Last year 14,397,781 people applied and 125,514 were successful. Providing they pass through the next steps, those chosen will receive a United States Permanent Resident Card, meaning they will be authorized to live and work in the US permanently.

Out of all the countries involved, Nigeria had the most winners with a total of 6,218. In Asia, most visas went to Iran with 6,029 successful entrants and Nepal with 4,370. All other Asian regions had less than 1,000 people chosen, and some areas were in the single digits. Japan had 636 successful applicants.

One Japanese man living in New York explained that “Usually getting permanent residency requires a lot of time and money, so I apply for the program every year. If you have citizenship you can work in any industry or start a business, so it’s very attractive.”

The next lottery will be announced on the U.S. Department of State website in October. The criteria for application includes having graduated high school or its equivalent and having two years of work experience or training in the last five. Applicants from around the world are welcome excluding the listed high-immigration countries. Anyone can make an application online for free via the website and the deadline is around one month from when applications first open.

Source: New York Keizai Shimbun, U.S. Department of State
Images: Future Travel Experience