green card lottery

Trump Calls on Congress to End Diversity Lottery Visas

By Peek & Toland on May 21, 2018

Diversity visa lotteries were under fire even before they were linked to terrorists.

In the wake of last year’s New York terrorist attack, the diversity lottery program appears to be living on borrowed time.

Congress enacted the diversity immigrant visa program almost 30 years ago in 1990. The program is random. It uses a lottery system to issue up to 50,000 green cards every year to people from countries which send few immigrants to the United States. Millions of people apply annually for a chance to win a diversity green card and the chances of winning the lottery are slight.

In the fall of 2017, President Donald Trump called on Congress to abolish the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program.

Sayfullo Saipov an ISIS sympathizer accused of committing the Halloween terror attack in Lower Manhattan that left eight dead and 11 injured, entered the United States from Uzbekistan through the visa lottery program in 2010.

Diversity Lottery Visas

Diversity Lottery Visas are Under Fire at Congress

Investigators said Saipov informed them he was inspired to conduct the attack by Islamic State videos. He faces federal terror-related charges.

Saipov is accused of driving a rental truck down a crowded New York City bike path.

A report on Fox News claimed as many as six foreigners linked to terror entered the country through the diversity visa lottery.

Trump branded the Green Card lottery a disaster for the country but it remained in place by the end of 2017.

Trump said:

“This program grants visas not on a basis of merit, but simply because applicants are randomly selected in an annual lottery and the people put in that lottery are not that country’s finest.”

He claimed the program presents significant vulnerabilities to America’s national security.

Supporters of the program say it is being unfairly targeted because recipients go through the same vetting as everybody else.

The green card lottery program was originally set up under Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services distributes the diversity visas among six geographic regions. No one single country is allowed to receive more than seven percent of the available visas in any one year.

If you have any pertinent questions related to the diversity lottery program, please contact our experienced Austin immigration attorneys and speak with an expert green card lawyer today. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration Reform

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Terrorist Attack Puts Diversity Green Card Lottery in Jeopardy

By Peek & Toland on April 17, 2018

The diversity green card lottery hit the headlines after a terrorist attack in New York in November 2017.

The diversity visa program, also known as the green card lottery, was criticized for allowing an attacker who was an immigrant from Uzbekistan, to come to the US.

Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov was from Central Asia but he had been living in the US since 2010, sources said. He is accused of driving a rented pickup truck down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center in Manhattan killing eight people, reported CNN.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he didn’t want the diversity green lottery to continue. He called for a switch to a merit-based immigration system.

Diversity green card lottery at risk post New York Terror attack

New York terrorist attack threatens diversity green card lottery

Notwithstanding the criticism, the diversity green card lottery has an unusual history, reported USA Today.

In 1965, The Immigration Act eliminated quotas that previously determined how many people could immigrate to the U.S. from any given country. This key piece of immigration legislation prioritized the immigration of people with close relatives living in the U.S. or the skills that employers wanted.

The provisions proved problematic for hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants who were escaping an economic crisis at home. USA Today noted a quota system was no longer in place. Most of the Irish people who wanted to head west lacked close family living in the U.S. or skills that were in high demand Stateside.

Nevertheless, many Irish immigrants came to the United States anyway and overstayed the terms of their visas. They ended up living as undocumented immigrants.

In 1986, the diversity visa lottery was put forward as a solution to the problem by Irish American members of Congress.

Thousands of Irish immigrants benefitted in 1986. By 1995, Congress had passed a permanent version of the law.

Although demand from Ireland dropped off, every year the program provides green cards to 50,000 people chosen randomly from countries with low immigration numbers to the U.S.

The program appeared to be living on borrowed time even before the New York terrorist attack.

Demand for these visas always exceeds supply. The countries of eligibility include Turkey, Poland, Italy Japan, Romania, Russia, Spain, and Nepal.

Most winners of the so-called green card lottery live outside the United States and immigrate through consular processing and the issuing of an immigrant visa.

Shortly after the terrorist attack, the diversity lottery was again under fire. Federal authorities moved to strip citizenship from four Somali immigrants who prosecutors claim lied about being a family, defrauding the Diversity Visa Lottery program.

The Washington Times reported that one woman, Fosia Abdi Adan, allegedly won the visa lottery in 2000 and then illegally brought three cousins, claiming two were her children and one was her husband to the United States. The feds claim the man was married to another woman at the time.

Removing citizenship is no easy task, although the Trump administration is seeking to make it easier. In the summer of 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court set the bar higher on citizenship stripping in the case of a Serbian woman who lied about her husband’s military service.

To find out more about the diversity green card lottery or citizenship please contact our Texas immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

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Republicans Seek to End Diversity Immigrant Visas

By Peek & Toland on July 21, 2017

The system that hands out diversity immigrant visas is known as the “green card lottery.” Every year, as many as 14 million people seek to win one of 50,000 diversity immigrant visas.

We highlight how diversity immigrant visas work on our blog. It’s targeted at countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The chances of winning the “green card lottery” is about 0.3 percent, states Voice of America.

diversity immigrant visas are under threat

visas awarded under the ‘green card lottery’ are under threat

Foreign residents who attain diversity immigrant visas get to live in the United States and may later attain citizenship. But the green card lottery is under threat.

Recent legislation submitted by two Republican lawmakers would discontinue the lottery. Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia penned legislation that would end it after 22 years.

Their proposal also calls for a reduction in the number of immigrants and refugees allowed to enter the United States every year.

The SAFE for America Act would spell an end to diversity immigrant visas if it’s enacted. While both Republican and Democrats attempted to end the diversity program in 2016, the proposal was buried in other legislation that failed to pass.

Voice of America stated the legislation is more likely to succeed this time. Unlike last year, Republicans control both Houses of Congress and the White House. It’s also in line with President Donald Trump’s restrictions on immigration.

Announcing their bill, the two senators claimed it would help the effort to raise the wages of Americans. Perdue said it was part of the effort to fix so-called shortcomings in the existing immigration system.

Is There a Link Between Diversity Immigrant Visas and Jobs and Wages?

However, some researchers say it’s almost impossible to prove there is a link between diversity immigrant visas and jobs and wages.

Opponents of the green card lottery say people requesting the visa are sometimes lying about key details. In a report a decade ago, the U.S. Government referenced fraud in relation to the program. However, the State Department subsequently improved the application process to reduce the likelihood of abuse.

The countries that are eligible to apply for the green card lottery in 2018 include Spain, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Japan, Russia, and Nepal.

Diversity immigrant visas are one of the few ways foreigners can legally move to the United States if they are not refugees or are not sponsored. Successful applicants must have a high school education or a work history to qualify.

In 2015, just 48,097 diversity visas were handed out by the United States, less than 10 percent of all immigrant visas given that year, reported Voice of America.

At Peek & Toland , we help applicants for a wide variety of immigrant and non-immigrant visas in Texas. Call us at (512) 474-4445 for more details.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform, Visas

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What is the U.S. Green Card Lottery?

By Peek & Toland on February 20, 2017

The green card lottery is also known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program). It’s an initiative that’s aimed at countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The U.S. Department of State outlines the program on its website. The green card lottery makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas that are drawn every year. It’s a random selection.

The program was created under Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The legislation provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” They are from nations with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

The diversity visas are distributed among six geographic regions and no one country is allowed to receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.

The green card lottery

The countries of eligibility in the 2018 program include Italy, Turkey, Poland, Japan, Romania, Russia, Spain, and Nepal.

Most winners of the green card lottery live outside the United States and immigrate through consular processing and the issuing of an immigrant visa.

How to Enter the Green Card Lottery Program

Every year a small number of lottery winners are living in the United States in a nonimmigrant or other legal status.

You can adjust your status under the diversity immigrant visa program provided you:

  • Were selected for a diversity visa by DOS’s lottery;
  • Have an immigrant visa immediately available when you file an adjustment application (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status); and
  • Are admissible to the United States.

USCIS recommends you check the latest month’s DOS Visa Bulletin to find out about visa availability.  The chart shows when the Diversity Immigrant cut-off is met. Once the cut-off is met, visas will be available in a given month for the applicants with Diversity Immigrant lottery rank numbers below the specified cut-off numbers for their geographic areas.

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is one of many ways you can apply for a green card. Although numbers are small, it’s a useful way of boosting applications from nations with low levels of immigration.

Many immigrants gain green cards via sponsorship from a permanent resident. Adjustment of status is available to visa carriers, people with pending petitions, and those with an expired visa. Some immigrants obtain a green card through an asylum application or petition.

If you have any questions about obtaining a green card, please contact our experienced Austin immigration attorneys and speak with an expert green card lawyer today. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Visas

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