entry registration period for the 2018 Diversity Visa program (DV-2018) was between October 4, 2016 and November 7, 2016, and the DV-2018 lottery will be processed at the Kentucky Consular Center.

All visa lottery entries must be submitted by first class mail or airmail. Entries submitted by express or priority mail, by hand, telegram, FAX, messenger or by any means requiring receipts or any form of special handling will be rejected by the Lottery. Once your entry has been submitted, your chance of being selected in the lottery is purely a matter of luck. Any person or business that promises they can improve someones chance of being selected, or guarantee an entry will be selected is promising something they cannot deliver.

The only thing a family can do to maximize their chance of being selected is to make sure their entries are prepared and documented correctly and submit the maximum number of entries allowed under the Lottery rules.

The State Department is very precise about the size of envelope to use and how it should be formatted, including the use of a specific regional zip code for your country of birth. Envelopes not conforming to size and format specifications will be rejected from the lottery. Postcards are not acceptable. Any lottery entry that arrives to the Kentucky Consular Center before the start date will be rejected from the lottery. The submission of multiple lottery entries will cause the disqualification of all of your entries (regardless of "who" submits the additional entry or entries). Finally, any entry received after end date will also be rejected from the lottery no matter what date is postmarked on the envelope. Of the approximately 13 million entries submitted, approximately 3 million were rejected because they arrived too early or too late to the Kentucky Consular Center.

The lottery entries, sealed in their envelopes, are sorted into six world regions based upon a special zip code assigned to each region. Each envelope is assigned an individual number. After the entry submission period ends, a computer will randomly select from the assigned numbers for each of the six regions. These selected envelopes will go through the registration process.

The first entry the computer randomly selects for a particular region will be the first case registered for that region; the second entry selected, the second registered, etc. Each region will have a DV rank order number consisting of two letters (AF-Africa, OC-Oceania, EU-Europe, NA-North America, and SA-South America) followed by five digits, i.e. EU00456.

When an entry has been registered, the lottery officials will send the applicant a notification letter which will provide appropriate visa application instructions. These notices will be sent sometime between April and June of 2017. Only entrants who are selected in the lottery will receive notice that they are registered in the lottery.

If selected in the lottery, your case will be assigned a regional rank number. Visas will be made available in each region by ascending rank order numbers. Once cases are being processed that have a regional rank number equal to or higher than yours, your rank number has become "current". Once your number becomes current you may apply for your DV immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate, or for adjustment of status at your local INS office. Click here to monitor the visa lottery regional rank numbers as contained in the U.S. Governments Visa Bulletin.

If your entry is selected in the lottery and you are outside the U.S., dont wait too long to apply for your visa after your rank number becomes current as there will be more registered entrants than the number of available diversity visas. You can save precious time by monitoring the rank numbers and timing the filing of your visa application to occur just after your rank number becomes current. If you are inside the U.S. and want to obtain lawful permanent resident status from within the U.S., you can contact your local INS office for information about the requirements and procedures or you may retain my services to help you apply for permanent resident status from within the United States. Once all of the  diversity visas have been issued, the DV program for the fiscal year will end.

Please note that under the 1996 Immigration reform act, the State Department reserves the right to collect a special $75.00 fee from diversity visa applicants who apply for visas they win in the visa lottery. The State Department depends on this income to finance the entire cost of administering the DV program.

The officials at the visa lottery have assigned a special zip code for each of the six world regions to be used on envelopes when submitting visa lottery entries. Envelopes that do not use the proper zip code will be rejected from the lottery.

In past visa lotteries millions of entries have been rejected because the envelopes did not meet specifications, the entrant did not use the correct assigned regional zip code for his or her country/region of birth, the lottery entries were incomplete or not prepared correctly, or the entries did not arrive during the entry submission period. And for DV-2018, I bet we will see many more entries disqualified for failure to follow the photo requirements.

Warning: Each person submitting an entry to the visa lottery must personally sign his or her Data Input Form with his or her usual and customary signature using their native alphabet (For example, as his or her signature would appear on his or her passport or other official or contractual obligations). Any Data Input Form that is not personally signed by the entrant will be disqualified. Neither an initialed signature nor block printing of the entrants name will be accepted and will result in the disqualification of the entry. If an entrant chooses to sign his or her name in English and that is not their native alphabet, he or she must also sign their Data Input Form using his or her native alphabet. Photocopies of signatures or faxed signatures will not be accepted in the visa lottery.