Who can register for the new visa lottery?

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

This is the column:

Obtaining permanent residency is a privilege desired by millions of immigrants. But for many it is a long and difficult process. There are several paths to get to that end, but only one depends on luck - through the visa lottery and the window to start that process again opens for those who are eligible to initiate an application.

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, the new deadline to register for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, popularly known as the "visa lottery," opens. This was announced by the Department of State.

The enrollment period is for the fiscal year 2017 lottery, which covers October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017. Interested individuals may begin submitting electronic forms at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, October 1, 2015 and have until 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 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.

The U.S. Government stipulates that the immigrant must meet a number of requirements to receive one of these visas. Among them, he/she must prove that he/she has at least a high school education, or two years of work experience in an occupation that has required training.

If the person does not meet all the necessary requirements, including being admissible to the United States, he or she will not be issued a visa.

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, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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

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 www.dvlottery.state.gov. The procedure is free of charge.

Detailed instructions on how to participate in the FY2017 visa lottery can be found by clicking 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.

The lottery winners will only find out if they have obtained a visa on May 3, 2016. Notification of those selected will only be 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 an immigration attorney for proper advice.

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.