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In the United States, diversity immigrant visas, also known as the Green Card Lottery or DV Lottery, are visas awarded on a lottery program, primarily to countries with low immigration rates to the US.

Is this system unique in the world, or are there any countries with similar systems?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on Expats.SE. Jun 28 '17 at 8:18
  • It is worth noting that not all countries even require anyone to have a visa in advance to immigrate. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/25236/… So, in those cases the question could be thought of a true or false depending upon how you think about the question.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 2 '17 at 2:22
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Is this system unique in the world, or are there any countries with similar systems?

TLDR; The United States program is unique with its aims for the United States and sheer scale of the program, but a New Zealand program selects specific countries under different goals (Refugee Quota) to offer the citizens permanent residence in the form of a ballot i.e. lottery similar to the US on a much smaller scale.


United States

It's certainly unique in size and how many countries can currently apply, currently the DV Lottery allows 18 countries to apply for the Green Card Lottery 2019 with the official statistics of applicants totalling each year from 2007 and 2013. To show you the sheer scale of this program here are the statistics from 2013-2015.

  • 12,577,355 applicants 2013
  • 14,633,972 applicants 2014
  • 14,418,064 applicants 2015

The aims for the DV lottery are also unique in nature:

The lottery makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually and aims to diversify the immigrant population in the United States, by selecting applicants from countries with low rates of immigration in the five years prior (source).

New Zealand

But it certainly isn't unique in regards to the lottery aspect, New Zealand offer a program called the Pacific Access Category similar in which you're entered into a ballot under certain circumstances:

If you’re from Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga or Fiji, we encourage you to register for a ballot to come to New Zealand. If your registration is drawn from the ballot, we may invite you to apply for residence. If you’re granted a resident visa, you’ll be able to work, live, and study in New Zealand indefinitely, while also enjoying our unique lifestyle.

and if you're aged between 18-45 years old.

and then selected for permanent residence to work, live and study in New Zealand. The results for this year are here.

New Zealand do this program under a refugee quota by the United Nations of 750 refugees per year (and will up it to 1000 per year by 2018).

New Zealand accepts 750 refugees per year mandated by the United Nations. As part of the Pacific Access Category, 650 citizens come from Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Tonga. 1,100 Samoan citizens come under the Samoan Quota scheme. Once resident, these people can apply to bring other family members to New Zealand under the Family Sponsored stream. Any migrant accepted under these schemes receives permanent residency in New Zealand.

On 13 June 2016 the government announced that the number of refugees which may be accepted will be raised to 1,000 per year (source).

The quota is limited to individual countries as follows (currently):

  • 75 Kiribati citizens
  • 75 Tuvaluan citizens
  • 250 Tongan citizens
  • 250 Fijian citizens

Fake News

There was also news spreading around about Canada starting a program similar to the DV lottery from 1, March 2017 but this was debunked as fake news.

A widespread rumour that Canada is due to begin a new immigration lottery, similar to the DV visa lottery in the United States, is untrue. The story stems from an article published online that citizens from 16 countries could apply as of March 1, 2017.

The government of Canada has not made any public announcement that such a lottery will open, and there is no reason to believe that such a program will be launched. The story being circulated appears to be fraudulent.

The false story lists a range of eligibility requirements for interested citizens of Oman, Ethiopia, Philippines, Ghana, Guyana, Jamaica, Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, Kenya, Pakistan, Zambia, Thailand, Uganda, Fiji, and Lesotho.

The story does not cite a government source. Indeed, it incorrectly names the department overseeing immigration to Canada as 'Canadian Immigration and Citizenship' (the correct name is Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada).

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