The U.S. Department of State opens entries for the Diversity Lottery 2011 (DV-2011) beginning October 2, 2009 at noon EDT, and ending November 30, 2009, at noon EST. All entries must be submitted via the Department of State's online system; paper submissions are no longer accepted. Only one entry may be submitted per person. Spouses may submit separate entries (if one spouse is selected, the other is entitled to derivative status).
Instructions and the full announcement are available here at the Department of State website.
Each fiscal year, up to 55,000 diversity visas are made available to individuals born in countries with low immigration rates to the United States (defined as less than 50,000 immigrants over the past five years).
Individuals who are natives of (in most cases, born in) the following countries are NOT eligible for DV-2011:
BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), 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. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.
There are two potential exceptions that should be assessed for individuals born in countries whose natives are ineligible for the DV-2011 lottery. First, an individual born in an ineligible country may still be able to apply if he or she has a spouse born in an eligible country. Second, if an individual's parents were neither born, nor resided, in the ineligible country at the time of birth, the individual may claim to be a native of a parent's birth country.
Individuals who are selected will be notified by mail beginning Spring 2010. Selection does not mean that an individual will become a permanent resident. An individual must meet all qualifications for permanent residence, and a visa number must be available to the applicant. Applications for permanent residence may be submitted beginning in fiscal year 2011 (October 1, 2010). Applications may only be submitted when a visa number becomes available, as announced by the Department of State.
If an individual is pursuing other employment or family-based permanent residence in the United States, it does not preclude the individual to file under the DV-2011 program.