Registration for the 1996 Visa Lottery, which specifically seeks to diversify the nationalities of U.S. immigrants, begins in February, Atlanta immigration attorneys Beryl B. Farris and Peter R. Hill have notified Globalfax.

The attorneys said the U.S. State Department will allocate the visas to inhabitants of countries which have sent fewer immigrants to the U.S. in the past, including Hong Kong and Northern Ireland.

The winners of the lottery will be able to apply for 55,000 visas without having to separately qualify as a professional, as a skilled employee or as a family member.

Each applicant must have completed 12 years of schooling or must have two years qualified work experience within the past five years. Family member dependents of the winners are not required to meet the education / experience standard.

Nationals of all countries are eligible to apply except for those from the following which have been favored previously:  Canada, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Jamaica, South Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, U.K. and Vietnam.

Visas will be allocated to the regions of the world as follows:  Africa, 20,426; Asia, 7,087; Americas & Caribbean, 2,415; Europe, 24,257; and Oceania, 815.

For information on immigration options, call Ms. Farris and Mr. Hill at (404) 659-4488; fax, 659-4490.