The first round is simple and will costs you no money. It has no prerequisites and can be started once every year. This round consists only of an online application for the diversity visa (see Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery). You will need to provide several information about yourself and a digital photograph (see Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Instructions).
Every family member may apply for a DV. This means if you and your (future) spouse apply for the visa and only one of you wins, the other will still be issued a visa.
Yes, a husband and a wife may each submit one entry if each meets the eligibility requirements. If either were selected, the other would be entitled to derivative status.
No fee is charged for the electronic lottery entry in the annual DV program. The U.S. Government employs no outside consultants or private services to operate the DV program. Any intermediaries or others who offer assistance to prepare DV entries do so without the authority or consent of the U.S. Government. Use of any outside intermediary or assistance to prepare a DV entry is entirely at the entrant's discretion.
A qualified entry submitted electronically directly by an applicant has an equal chance of being selected by the computer at the Kentucky Consular Center, as does an entry submitted electronically through a paid intermediary who completes the entry for the applicant. Every entry received during the lottery registration period will have an equal random chance of being selected within its region.
Since Germany is is no "principal source country of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration, or an 'high admission' country" we were eligible for a diversity visa. Other countries (e.g. Great Britain, Poland and Russia) were not, so citizens of these countries could not apply.
We had to submit it between October and November 2006. My fiancee and I applied individually for the diversity visa. If either one of us would win, we would marry for the other to get a visa, too.
Before we submitted the online documents we made appropriate digital photographs as described in the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery Instructions. Nothing special. A white background, look straight into the camera. Copy the image to your computer and resize it as specified. Done.
For next couple of months nothing happened and nothing was expected. At least not till May, because in the instruction it was written
The computer will select at random individuals from among all qualified entries. They will be notified by mail between May and July 2007 and will be provided further instructions [..]I have read of people who have tried more five times, ten times, and still had no luck. They just did not win. But one day in April I received a letter from Kentucky ...