(CNSNews.com) - The State Department is now accepting applications for the 2019 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, letting people from Uzbekistan and hundreds of other countries--including all of the countries listed on President Trump's most recent travel ban--that they have three more weeks to apply.
Each year, millions of foreign nationals submit entries for the Diversity Visa lottery program, and 50,000 are selected. In the past, one of them was the man from Uzbekistan who mowed down and killed eight people with a truck in New York City on Tuesday afternoon.
That terrorist came here in 2010, at age 22, through the luck of the draw.
The period for applying to participate in the next Diversity Visa lottery is open now and the State Department is letting potential applicants know.
"The 2019 entry period will run from 12:00 pm (noon), Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Wednesday, October 18, 2017, until 12:00 pm (noon), Eastern Standard Time (EST)(GMT-5), Wednesday, November 22, 2017," the State Department says on the website instructing foreigners how to apply for the 2019 lottery.
"We cannot accept (2019) entries after noon EST on Tuesday, November 22, 2017."
Only 21 days left.
Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act directs the State Department to accept 50,000 "diversity immigrants" annually from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Those selected for the program must meet "simple but strict eligibility requirements" to qualify for a Diversity Visa, the website says. Selectees must have "either a minimum high school education or its equivalent; OR two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.
(The terrorist from Uzbekistan reportedly has listed his occupation as truck driver.)
Those selected to apply for Diversity Visas are chosen through a "randomized computer drawing," and the visas are distributed among six geographic regions -- Africa, Asia, Europe, North America (Bahamas only), Oceana (Australia, New Zealand, various islands), and South/Central America and the Caribbean.
No single country within those regions may receive more than 7 percent of the available diversity visas in any one year.
The list of countries is long: Among others, it includes Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, the eight countries listed on President Trump's most recent travel ban, which is now being challenged in the courts.
Natives of Uzbekistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Mali, and Niger are also welcome to apply for Diversity Visas.
For 2019, natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply because more than 50,000 natives of those countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
There is no fee to submit an electronic application. However, those who are selected in the lottery and then go on to apply for a Diversity Visa must pay all required visa application fees at the time of their visa application and interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning:
"I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this! The terrorist came into our country through what is called the 'Diversity Visa Lottery Program,' a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based. We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter)."