What to do if you were chosen in the visa lottery?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a question from a reader who won the visa lottery and wants to apply for permanent residency.

Here is some general information. Please consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any proceedings.

This is the column:

I am Honduran and I am a winner in this year's visa lottery. I am told that I can't claim the visa because I only went to school until sixth grade. Is this true? If so, is there anything I can do? - Oscar B.

Oscar, congratulations on winning the visa lottery.

You must meet several requirements to obtain permanent residency through the visa lottery. First of all, you must be admissible to the country.

One of the key requirements is a minimum of a high school education. The U.S. government makes an exception to this rule, allowing a person who has not completed high school to be considered for permanent residence if he or she has two years of work experience in an occupation that has required specialized training.

Since you do not have a high school degree, you will need to demonstrate that you have the necessary work experience to meet this requirement. Only certain specific occupations qualify for the visa lottery.

The Government classifies these occupations as Job Zones 4 or 5, which require a lot of training. In addition, you must have a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher.

The list is extensive, but here are some of the qualifying occupations:

Work zone 4 (require less training): financial analysts, architects, accountants, art directors, graphic designers, writers, editors, producers, health educators, athletic trainers, rocket scientists, biochemical engineers and technicians, civil engineers, elementary school teachers, social workers, computer programmers, construction managers, forensic technicians, laboratory technicians, interpreters and translators, advertising or public relations managers, and sales managers.

Work zone 5 (require further training): acupuncturists, anesthesiologists, anesthesiologist assistants, architects, librarians, biochemists, biophysicists, biologists, dentists, doctors, psychiatric practice nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, psychologists, psychiatrists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, radiologists, economists, historians, art, music and language teachers at the post-secondary level, judges, lawyers, priests, sociologists, veterinarians.

A complete list of all occupations in Labor Zones 4 or 5 can be found on the Department of Labor's website: www.onetonline.org. The website is only available in English.

Oscar, please consult with an immigration attorney to determine if you meet all the requirements of the visa lottery program.

General tips for 2016 visa lottery winners

1. If selected, apply for a visa as soon as possible. You can only apply for your visa during the 2016 fiscal year (October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016). You cannot carry over the benefits of this visa to the following year.

2. Make sure they registered correctly in the visa lottery. Certain errors, such as not including a spouse when they are married, disqualifies the person from the program.

3. Meet all immigrant visa eligibility requirements under U.S. immigration law, including being admissible to the country.

4. Individuals who are or have been undocumented in the United States, or who have criminal records or immigration arrests should consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that they meet all requirements and are eligible to apply for permanent residence. If they do not qualify, undocumented persons within the U.S. could be targeted by immigration authorities.

5. Do not apply if they do not qualify. It is a waste of time and money, because the federal government does not refund fees paid if the person is not eligible.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog InmigracionHoy.com.

Send your questions to preguntas@consultamigratoria.com. Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States) and presenter of immigration television segments of El Abogado a Tu Lado on NY1 News. He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Westlake South Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. For information on how to consult with Dr. Castillo, click here. click here.

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.