How to register for the fiscal year 2020 visa lottery?

In my Consulta Migratoria® column this week I explain the visa lottery program and who is eligible to register for the next lottery.

This is the column:

Despite a strong call from several Republican lawmakers and threats from President Donald Trump to eliminate it, the diversity visa program, better known as the "visa lottery," remains in place and will once again accept applications from foreign nationals to participate in the lottery.

Thanks to the program, eligible immigrants can gain permanent residency in the United States at random, causing millions of people to sign up in hopes of being selected for the 50,000 diversity visas that are raffled off each year.

The U.S. Department of State announced that the new deadline for registration for the fiscal year 2020 draw covering October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.

Interested persons should submit electronic forms for the visa lottery from Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. EDT until 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Who can participate in the visa lottery?

The U.S. government limits who can receive one of the coveted diversity visas based on the foreign national's origin. These visas are granted to individuals who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Eligible countries can change from year to year, if the government so chooses.

Among the countries eligible for the new enrollment period:

Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.

From Latin America, are not Eligible individuals from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Mexico.

In addition to being a native of one of the stipulated countries, the foreigner must be eligible. Even if you are lucky enough to "win" the lottery, it does not mean that you will automatically receive a visa. In order to do so, when submitting your application you must meet the stipulated requirements. For example, you must have at least a high school education or two years of work experience in an occupation that has required training, and be admissible to the country. If you do not meet all of the requirements, your visa will be denied.

How to register

To participate in the lottery, an electronic application must be submitted on the website

Instructions for the FY2020 visa lottery are available by clicking here. click here.

It is extremely important that you follow all instructions and that all information you provide is correct. If you do not comply with all registration requirements, your application will be disqualified.

The procedure is free of charge. It can only be done during the registration period stipulated by the Department of State - not a day before or a minute after. Again, that deadline is from Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. EDT until 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

If you intend to participate, you should submit the electronic form as soon as possible to avoid problems in the registration process if the website is overloaded due to high demand before the closing date.

By law, only one application can be submitted per person during each enrollment period. The State Department uses sophisticated technology that can detect if someone has made multiple entries. If they identify individuals who submitted multiple forms to increase their chances of winning a visa, they will be eliminated from the lottery.

How to find out who won the visa lottery

The names of the selected candidates will be available on the website starting Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

Each applicant will have to go to the website to verify, on their own, whether they were 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 during fiscal year 2020 to complete the appropriate paperwork. If you miss the deadline, you lose your visa eligibility.

Beware of fraudulent notifications. If you receive an e-mail saying you won 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 the necessary requirements.

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

2020 visa lottery could be the last one

There have been numerous efforts to eliminate the visa lottery program. One attempt by the U.S. Senate, led by Democrats, failed in 2013. But currently, there is another legal bill in the Senate that proposes the cancellation of the program. If it were to become law within the next year, the fiscal year 2020 visa lottery could be the last.