When contacted by a potential client whose goal is simply to “get a green card”, immigration attorneys must often engage in an analysis that rivals a law school exam question. Does the person qualify for a visa because of a family member? Can he get a green card through employment? Does he qualify for asylum?

When the answers to the above questions are “no”, all hope is not necessarily lost. One way to obtain a green card for immigration to the United States is to apply for the green card diversity visa (DV) lottery.

Each year, the United States government picks approximately 100,000 lucky foreign individuals from certain countries to try for one of 55,000 green cards. There is a list of qualifications, as well as a list of disqualifications. However, if you can make it over all of these hurdles you can become a permanent resident and, later, a US Citizen! The diversity visa is not a myth. However, with 6.5 million people competing for 55,000 slots, winning a diversity visa feels very much like winning the California lottery.

For the story of one recent lucky diversity visa lottery winner, check out Lane Wins the Green Card Lottery.