How to register for the visa lottery?

The deadline for the visa lottery has opened. The government shutdown will not affect registration.

In my Consulta Migratoria® column this week I explain who is eligible and what you must do to 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 enrollment period for the fiscal year 2015 sweepstakes (October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015) - began Tuesday, October 1, 2013 and will end Saturday, November 2, 2013. The U.S. government shutdown does not affect the enrollment process.

Eligible countries include: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Persons from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru, among other countries, are not eligible.

The application can only be made during the 30-day period stipulated by the Department of State. To participate in the lottery, an electronic application must be submitted at the following website The procedure is free of charge.

Lottery winners will only find out if they have obtained a visa on May 1, 2014. Notification will only be made on the website. Notifications will no longer be sent by mail.

It will be your responsibility to verify if you have been selected. You will need to log in to the website with the confirmation number you received when you completed the online visa lottery application.

If you are selected, you have a limited period of time to complete the corresponding procedures. If you miss the deadline, you lose the right to the visa.

Be alert to fraudulent notifications. If you receive an e-mail claiming you won and asking 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 qualify.

It is extremely important to register correctly for the visa lottery. Your application will be disqualified if you do not meet the registration requirements.

If in doubt, consult an immigration attorney for proper advice.

Please note that the recently passed U.S. Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill stipulates the elimination of this program. Therefore, should this bill become law within the next year, the FY 2015 visa lottery could be the last.