U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE has released instructions for the 2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2017)

Following is a program overview and essential preliminary information. For detailed instructions go to www.dvlottery.state.gov

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered annually by the Department of State. Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as "diversity immigrants" from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For fiscal year 2017, 50,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) will be available. There is no cost to register for the DV program.

Applicants who are selected in the program ("selectees") must meet simple, but strict, eligibility requirements in order to qualify for a diversity visa. Selectees are chosen through a randomized computer drawing. Diversity visas are distributed among six geographic regions and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.

For DV-2017, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply, because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years:

Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

Eligibility

Requirement #1: Individuals born in countries whose natives qualify may be eligible to enter. If you were not born in an eligible country, there are two other ways you might be able to qualify.

- Was your spouse born in a country whose natives are eligible? If yes, you can claim your spouse's country of birth-provided that both you and your spouse are named on the selected entry, are issued diversity visas, and enter the United States simultaneously.

- Were you born in a country whose natives are ineligible, but in which neither of your parents was born or legally resident at the time of your birth? If yes, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV-2017 program. For more details on what this means, see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Requirement #2: Each DV applicant must meet the education/work experience requirement of the DV program by having either:

- at least a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of formal elementary and secondary education;

OR

- two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net Online database will be used to determine qualifying work experience.

For more information about qualifying work experience, see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Do not submit an entry to the DV program unless you meet both of these requirements.

Entry period

Entries for the DV-2017 program must be submitted electronically at www.dvlottery.state.gov between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Thursday, October 1, 2015, and noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5), Tuesday, November 3, 2015. Do not wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, as heavy demand may result in website delays. No late entries or paper entries will be accepted. The law allows only one entry by or for each person during each registration period. The Department of State uses sophisticated technology to detect multiple entries. Individuals with more than one entry will be disqualified.

Completing your Electronic Entry for the DV-2017 Program

Submit your Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E-DV Entry Form or DS-5501), online at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Incomplete entries will not be accepted. There is no cost to submit an entry form.