While not entirely new, I wanted to spread awareness about a visa program that I heard about. It is called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program and its main focus is to provide visa's to immigrants in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. In order to apply for this program, people wanting to immigrate need to follow certain requirements, including specific work or education experience in their native countries.
Each year, there are changes regarding which countries are eligible to apply for this program depending on how many immigrants came from each country in previous years. Specifically, if more than 50,000 citizens from that country immigrate to the United States during a five year period, that country is not eligible for this program. However, nothing is set in stone as eligible countries change from year to year. For example, changes for 2013 include South Sudan and Poland natives are now eligible, and Bangladesh natives are now ineligible. If all the requirements are met and the country is eligible, participants are randomly selected by a computer to obtain a diversity visa.
As of 2010, a new feature was added to the program. Each applicant is given a confirmation number for their application, which makes for easy access when checking the status of the application. Before 2010, only those applicants selected were notified by mail, which made the application process frustrating. With this new feature, applicants can easily check whether or not they are chosen to participate in this program.
Some criticisms of this program include the fairness of the visa distribution. Receiving this diversity visa is based on national origin, as countries that frequently have over 50,000 immigrants during a five year period will never be eligible. Also, immigrants who have resided in the United States for several years with only a temporary visa question the fairness of this program, since with the diversity visa program, random people receive permanent visas.
While this program does not affect all countries, it is something to keep in mind, as it gives roughly 50,000 immigrants each year a permanent visa to live in the United States.
More detailed information about the application process can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/pdf/DV_2013_instructions.pdf