On Wednesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), the U.S. State Department's website will open for people from certain countries (the ones that have sent the smallest number of immigrants to the U.S. in recent years) to apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery (called DV-2016).
The application period will close on Monday, November 3, 2014 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). To see whether you were selected, you will need to wait until May 5, 2015, and then check the State Department website at www.dvlottery.state.gov.
The basic rules for this year's visa lottery have not changed from those of previous years. As before, the person must make sure their country is on the list of eligible ones – you can NOT apply if you are from one of the following countries:
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.
(In fact, that's exactly the same list as last year.)
Applicants must also show that they have accomplished a certain level of education. You can submit only one entry, using an online submission process.
People whose entries are selected as “winners” can apply to bring a spouse (now including same-sex spouses, if legally married according the the state or country where the wedding was held) and children, as well.
For details, see one of Nolo's books covering this topic (U.S. Immigration Made Easy or How to Get a Green Card) or the "Diversity Visa Lottery Green Cards" section of Nolo's website. And to access the State Department's detailed instructions and application portal, see the "Diversity Visa Process" page of its website.