How to register for the new visa lottery?

The new registration period for the visa lottery will open soon. In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® explains what the program consists of and who can enroll.

This is the column:

One of the ways to obtain permanent residency in the United States is through the diversity visa program.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State holds a lottery for these visas, commonly referred to as the visa lottery. These visas are given to individuals from countries that have a low rate of immigration to the U.S. and who meet certain requirements to be admissible to the country. Among them, they must have at least a high school education, or two years of work experience in an occupation that has required training. There are 50,000 visas available.

The new enrollment period is for the fiscal year 2018 lottery, which covers October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Interested individuals may begin submitting electronic forms at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 and have until 12:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, November 7, 2016 to complete the process.

If they are selected and meet the eligibility requirements, they can obtain permanent residency in the United States through these visas.

Only 50,000 of these visas are drawn every year, so there is a lot of competition. And even if the person is selected in the lottery, he or she is not guaranteed a visa, because the immigrant must be eligible and admissible to the country in order to receive one.

A person may not be eligible for an immigrant visa through the visa lottery if he or she has a criminal or immigration history, including having lived or worked illegally in the United States. If you have such a record, you should consult with an immigration attorney before participating in the visa lottery or beginning any immigration proceedings.

Diversity visas also have another limitation - they are only given to people from countries that have a low rate of immigration to the United States.

The following countries are eligible for the new registration period: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.

From Latin America no are eligible from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and El Salvador.

Persons interested in participating in the visa lottery may only submit their applications electronically during the 30-day period stipulated by the Department of State.

To start the procedure, go to the website The procedure is free of charge.

Detailed instructions on how to participate in the FY 2018 visa lottery can be found by doing. click here.

Do not wait until the last week of the registration period to submit the electronic form. Due to high demand in the last days of registration there may be delays on the website, preventing you from registering on time.

Please note that no paper or late registrations will be accepted.

The law allows only one application to be submitted per person during each enrollment period. The State Department uses sophisticated technology that can detect if someone submitted multiple electronic applications. If they submit the form multiple times in hopes of increasing their chances of "winning" a visa, they will be excluded from the lottery and miss a great opportunity to obtain permanent residency.

Lottery winners will only find out if they have been granted a visa on May 2, 2017. Notification of those selected is only made on the website Individual notifications are no longer sent by mail.

It is the responsibility of each applicant to verify whether he/she was selected. To find out if you have won the visa lottery, you will need to log in to the website with the confirmation number you received when you completed the online application.

If you have been selected, you must act quickly, because there is a limited period of time to complete the corresponding procedures. If you miss the deadline, you lose the right to the visa.

Beware of fraudulent notifications! If you receive an email claiming you won the visa lottery and you are asked for money, it is most likely a scam. Report it to the authorities.

A great advantage of winning the visa lottery is that if you are married or have children, they may also receive the benefit of a visa and permanent residency if they meet all the requirements.

It is very important to complete the visa lottery application correctly. If you do not complete the application requirements, your application will be disqualified.

If in doubt, consult with an immigration attorney or a federally accredited representative for appropriate advice.