October 1 marks the start of the 30-day registration period with the annual Diversity Visa (green card) Lottery. This program was sponsored through the late Senator Edward Kennedy under section 203 (c) from the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1990 to assist even out the proportions of immigrants from different European countries which, at that time, were known as skewed for immigrants from Latin America and Asia. But is that this a program whose the years have come and gone?
To satisfy the diversity goal, any country that's admitted 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. during the last five years isn't eligible with the Diversity Visa Program. This currently excludes citizens of countries like Mexico, Canada, mainland China, leading to a dozen other countries and islands which are part on the United Kingdom. Because with the rolling 50,000 limit, countries may come and change from the 'visa-eligible' list. For example, Poland is actually eligible again after being eliminated in 2007, and Nigeria was eliminated just for this year's lottery.
Besides the 'nativity' requirement (applicants has to be born within a visa-eligible country to qualify), they should also have the equivalent of a U.S. school education, with no less than two years of experience during the last five years in one from the jobs classified by the Department of Labor's oddly named O*Net database. A quick perusal with the list of qualifying occupations reveals the vast majority of such jobs actually call for a college degree or maybe a post-baccalaureate education.
The lottery is very popular abroad since it does not rely on sponsorship by a boss or a close relative, in order that it represents a short cut to get Lawful Permanent Resident status (aka a 'green card'), and a few years later the potential for full U.S. Citizenship.
Of the millions who apply each October with the U.S. State Department website, 100,000 are selected randomly by computer for interviews and criminal record checks either in a U.S. Consulate abroad or at the local USCIS office in the United States. Winners verify their winning status online starting May 1 from the following year as soon as they apply. However, winning is perhaps no guarantee to get a visa.
Interviewees must bring their birth and marriage certificates, evidence of education or work in a very qualifying occupation, and much more, including evidence they've got a job browsing the United States or name of somebody willing to spend on their living costs until they get a job so they really do not turn into a 'public charge.' Of those 100,000 initial selectees, about 50 % or 50,000 are eventually selected.
By most accounts this software has been a tremendous success despite a couple of very visible public realtions setbacks. For example, in 2002 there seemed to be the case of the Egyptian lottery winner shooting a couple at the Los Angeles International Airport. In 2011, the State Department's Department of Visa Services who administer this software, had an awkward computer glitch that accidentally informed 22,000 folks that they were selected as winners although these people were in fact not selected. This led to thousands of potential winners discarding their entry numbers after mistakenly believing they lost.
And the DV Program, as with any other government program, is affected by fraud. Not surprisingly, applicants are already known to use fake documentation to misrepresent themselves to USCIS or State Department personnel in their interview. In other cases applicants have already been victimized by scam emails claiming to result from the State Department that tell the victim they won the lottery and order hefty fees to process their application. In fact, the primary widely circulated spam email was with the husband and wife immigration lawyer team of Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel in 1994 to solicit green card lottery company fees.
There are samples of highly educated, English-fluent applicants who are not able to read or understand government instructions and will not receive their visas because of avoidable mistakes through the entire process. Using shoddy or outright fraudulent independent lottery agencies represents an additional problem. In some cases these providers charge applicants for services or goods which are unnecessary.
Ethical, fee-based lottery services for example the American Dream (among others) represent a viable choice for several applicants who are required or just want the relief knowing they've help through the process from registering to finding an immigration lawyer if they win.
The lottery represents one on the few avenues for legal entry to the United States, specifically for those from African and Caribbean countries. But poorer non-citizens are without lobbyists, much less a significant volume of supporters in Congress. For this reason the lottery continues to be on the chopping block for a long time by conservatives including Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) who observe the winners as being a threat to national security, as taking jobs faraway from Americans, or which the program admits a great number of undesirables by using a process of 'chain-migration.'
However, the quantity of immigrants admitted towards the United States through the lottery represents no more than 5% from more info the overall number. And independent immigration research indicates that legal immigrants contribute for the economy, promote true diversity, and lessen the deficit.
The program also covers itself via relatively steep fees charged to each and every alien and relative admitted to the country. And wise practice indicates that changing U.S. demographics and minimize birth rates foreshadow the call to bring in more workers in the United States'a point underscored by supporters of overall immigration reform.
This past year Senate Bill S.744 finally eviscerated this software as part in the proposed immigration reform compromise, favoring instead a process that admits more skills-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) applicants versus a method based partially on diversity. However, the 2013 green card lottery was saved by congressional inaction, thanks in part for the Syria crisis so the budget impasse, but particularly by House Republicans who still threaten to derail reform altogether by piecemeal inaction.
So are you going to the lottery change from here?
Assuming the House of Representatives passes comprehensive immigration reform this fall or even in early 2014 (a really big assumption), 2013 will function as the final year from the lottery and terminate one on the many legislative legacies of Edward Kennedy.
But supporters on the lottery ought not overestimate the ability in the House to feed much-needed immigration reform. Ironically, the lottery might be saved with the very same forces that argue one of the most for its demise.