Tuesday, January 12, 2010

U.S. green card lottery

As we try to secure our borders against people who would do us harm, it is important to look at the legal ways that people can enter the United States.  Are you aware of the "diversity visa lottery?"  Here's the description on the State Department website:
The Congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 diversity visas (DV) annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Of course an entire cottage industry has emerged to assist people in their application to the lottery.  Here is the pitch from the usagreencardlottery.org website:
Each year, 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through a lottery to people who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. None of these visas are available for people who come from countries that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. Anyone who is selected under this lottery will be given the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. If permanent residence is granted, then the individual will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.
These applicants do not need to specify a reason they want to come to the U.S.  It is not necessary that they have a job lined up, or family in the U.S. to provide support. What they receive is a green card and an opportunity to apply for permanent residence.  You can see the results of the 2010 lottery here.  From Nigeria, 6,006.  From Iran, 2,773.  From Somalia, 229.  From Jordan, 143.  From Yemen, 72.

Do any of these countries sound familiar from recent news stories?

Congressmen Lamar Smith and Bob Goodlatte, sent a letter to the Chairman of the Judiciary committee, Congressman John Conyers, urging the committee to consider legislation eliminating the annual visa lottery.  Goodlatte has written legislation aimed at killing the lottery:
Though Umar Farouk Abdulmattallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day, used a tourist visa -- not a diversity visa -- to enter the country, Goodlatte said he worries that Al Qaeda members will game the system. He fears they will submit the names of young acolytes from Saudi Arabia or Yemen who have clean records and could gain entry to the U.S. to wreak havoc. More than 1,000 such visas have been granted to Yemenis in the past decade alone.

"You can take young people out of the madrassas that have no record of any activity with a terrorist organization but are loyal followers of Usama bin Laden," he said.

The State Department's Office of the Inspector General recommended in a 2003 report that terror-sponsoring nations be removed from the diversity visa program.

"OIG believes that this program contains significant vulnerabilities to national security as hostile intelligence officers, criminals and terrorists attempt to use it to enter the United States as permanent residents," the office's deputy inspector testified to Congress in 2004.

A separate report filed by the Government Accountability Office also faulted the program for being susceptible to widespread fraud. A cottage industry has emerged abroad to cater to the lottery, and it regularly bilks people out of massive amounts of money and even coerces some into marriage to keep their diversity visas.

But State Department officials told FoxNews.com that they have a powerful security protocol in place to protect the system -- a point underscored in their rebuttal to the GAO report.

"We do not see the DV (diversity visa) program as uniquely vulnerable," when it comes to state sponsors of terrorism, they said, because of careful vetting that includes "two types of biometric checks and name checks."
Like the checks used when Umar Farouk Abdulmattallab applied for and received a tourist visa?  The very existence of this program demonstrates to our would-be attackers that the U.S. is not serious about protecting our homeland.


  1. Let's see, with less then a 1% chance of being selected, I am sure the terroists are signing up left and right. Not.

  2. It's me Anonymous again,

    You should try reading a bit more:

    Only select occupations qualify for the lottery, and neither being a student or a terroist qualifies.

    Hey, but I don't want to burst your hatred bubble...

  3. It's me again!!!

    Funny how this WASN'T a issue over the last 8 years. Says even more about the source of the article and the Senators who are backing the bill. Where were they in 2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,2007,2008?

  4. Anonymous, thanks for your comments. Perhaps it is you who should try reading a little more. From the State Department website:

    You must have either a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education; OR two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform.

    In other words, you must be a high school graduate. How strict is that?

    BTW, I've got no "hatred bubble." Just weary of those who do.

  5. I work with immigrants all time through my work with the EB5 visa, so I know how difficult the process can be. With that said, I think the lottery is one of the best and only hopes for millions of potential immigrants worldwide. It's just sad that there are so many fraudsters out there who want to take their money and give them false hope...but, I suppose where ever there are people who need someone to trust, there will be those who are waiting to take advantage of them.

  6. It's hard to get visa through immigration. I prefer Green Card Lottery is one of the best way to immigrate into United States. We have to make sure we find right place to participate in lottery.

  7. This program is meant to encourage diversity among our immigrants. As others have mentioned, it provides opportunities around the globe to obtain a green card visa. I do not feel it is necessary to worry about homeland security, as those chosen in the lottery still undergo government screening as any other immigrant must.