New Green Card Lottery Record
15 Million Seek to Enter U.S. Through Program That Leaves It to Chance
If you would like to obtain a USA Green Card, this is your chance
The DV2012 diversity visa lottery program also know as the green card lottery, drew 25% more entries than last year according to the U.S. State Department. The limit of 55,000 green card recipients through the program was established in the 1996 Immigration Act in order to give US immigration opportunities to natives from countries other than the main source-countries of immigration to the USA.
The annual lottery creates a buzz across the developing world. The entrance period was shortened from two months to one month this year and in the final hours of the enrollment period, which this year closed November 3 at noon, entries were rolling in at the rate of 62,000 applications an hour.
Recent winners already in the U.S. include cab drivers, professional athletes, Internet entrepreneurs and military personnel. “I would never have started a company that created value in the United States if I hadn’t won the lottery,“ said Adam Gries, a 29-year-old Israeli who runs an Internet start-up in San Francisco. “I would be creating companies in Israel.“
Rep. Bob Goodlatte introduced legislation to abolish The Green Card Lottery
Critics say the program poses security risks, (see Is the Green Card Lottery a National Security Thread). The visa lottery also is unfair to law-abiding immigrants. Family-sponsored immigrants currently face waits of years to be reunited with their families. Each year, the visa lottery program pushes 55,000 random immigrants ahead of these family-sponsored immigrants waiting to be reunited with their families.
“More and more people are learning about this program and are dumbfounded that we have it in the first place,“ said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), who has introduced legislation to abolish it. “Our chances have never been better to kill it,“ he added, following his party’s successes in the midterm elections and amid high unemployment in the U.S.
The Diversity Visa Lottery Process
Launched in 1996 to promote diversity in the immigrant population (see The USA Green Card Lottery Application Program Overview), the green card lottery is now open to people from almost anywhere in the world, except countries that already boast a large number of nationals in the U.S., including Brazil, Canada, China (mainland only), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, United Kingdom and Vietnam, (see the green card lottery requirements for details). No special skills are required: A high-school diploma suffices. Lottery winners eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship.
The number of entries has been rising each year. This year’s total is more than 2.5 times greater than it was five years ago, when the lottery attracted 5.5 million entries. Immigration scholars say possible reasons include the spread of Internet connectivity and increased awareness of the lottery.
The American dream is held out as a torch to the entire world
In Africa and Asia, banners advertising the lottery festoon remote villages and teeming city alleys, where Internet cafes do brisk business helping applicants fill out entry forms, which must be completed online.
In flood-prone Bangladesh, “it seems everyone in the country knows about it,“ said Sandra Ingram, consular chief in Dhaka, who holds news conferences during lottery season.
After an electronic draw, about 100,000 applicants will be notified in May, twice as many as ultimately will be eligible to move to the U.S. to undergo interviews, background checks and medical exams.
There is no cap on how many times the same person can enter the green card lottery,but no country can represent more than 7% of the total visas issued in a given year. For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2009, nationals from Ethiopia, Egypt and Nigeria were the top recipients. This year, Bangladesh and Nigeria supplied the most entries.
Five years since arriving as a single man in San Diego, lottery winner Tsegaye Kedir of Ethiopia is married and a U.S. citizen preparing to attend college.
“I came because the U.S. has big opportunity for work, to get an education and to live a better life than in my country,“ said the 29-year-old, who drives a taxi.
Allocating Green Cards based on luck instead of knowledge
Although the program accounts for a small percentage of the million or so legal immigrants who enter the U.S. each year, critics say it diverts scarce State Department resources from processing more important visa categories.
“It shows that the U.S. immigration system doesn’t make sense,“ said Bernard Wolfsdorf, an immigration attorney. “We are allocating visas based on luck instead of knowledge.“
Rep. Goodlatte of Virginia and others also voice concern that the program is inviting to terrorists, because people don’t need to prove they have ties to the U.S. and are guaranteed permanent residency, which allows them to get almost any job—even handling explosives.
Hesham Mohammed Ali Hedayet, an Egyptian who killed two people at an El Al airline counter in Los Angeles in 2002, was able to remain in the U.S. after overstaying his visitor’s visa because his wife won the green card lottery.
The State Department said those who get in through the lottery are subjected to the same stringent security review as other visa applicants.
Margaret Stock, a retired West Point professor who studies immigration and defense, said terrorists wouldn’t be stopped by abolishing the program. “The DV lottery is not any more susceptible to terrorism than other visa programs,“ Lt. Col. Stock said.
Egyptian-born Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, entered the green card lottery at least once, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. He never won a spot in the lottery, and eventually came to the U.S. on a business-visitor visa instead.
Fraud is another challenge. The fervor for a shot at the American Dream prompted one Bangladeshi man to submit 2,800 entries, the State Department said; just one entry per year is allowed. Fake marriages, between a winner and a stranger, are common, too.
But if an entrant is disqualified one year, he or she can still enter the next year. “All is forgiven, it’s a new lottery,“ said one U.S. official.
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