The U.S. State Department recently announced that it will begin accepting applications for this year’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Program—commonly referred to as the diversity visa (DV) lottery system—starting on Tuesday, October 3. Applicants whose DV cases are among those selected in the lottery and are subsequently approved may apply for a green card beginning on October 1, 2018.

In an annual random lottery system, the State Department selects 50,000 immigrant visa applications from a pool of foreign national applicants who are citizens of countries with historically low immigration rates to the United States. However, foreign nationals considering applying in this year’s DV lottery are strongly encouraged to do so, as this year may be the program’s last. The Trump Administration as well as numerous prominent members of Congress repeatedly call for an end to the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.

Applicants who are selected in this year’s random DV lottery must meet numerous requirements before becoming eligible to apply for U.S. lawful permanent residency, also known as a ‘green card.’ For example, they must have at least a high school education or its equivalent in work experience, and must either have citizenship of a country with historically-low levels of immigration rates to the U.S. (or married to a citizen of one such country), which makes any citizens of the following countries ineligible to apply: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born/not including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), 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.

Citizens of foreign countries are not the only ones impacted by proposed changes to U.S. immigration law, as U.S. companies often encourage their employees to use the DV lottery, which can help avoid incurring considerable expenses in traditional employment-based residency sponsorship. Applicants should register as soon as possible to avoid technical delays and are otherwise wise to be mindful of complex requirements in order to avoid rejection, denial, or other avoidable issues throughout the diversity visa application process.