Thousands of Nepalis have already reached the US for permanent residency with green card in their hands through the programme.
Those who had applied for the electronic DV from October 4, 2016 to November 7, 2016, with American dreams can check whether they were lucky enough to win the lottery on www.dvlottery.state.gov.
The DV programme makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, according to US Department of State.
The lottery winners immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Kathmandu has said inquiries regarding diversity visas should be directed to its customer service centre via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone
From Nepal: 1-800-091-0114 from 8:00am to 8:00pm Monday-Friday.
From the United States :(703) 988-3428.
It further warned the applicants of scams, saying the Embassy does not send the DV lottery winners emails informing them of their selection, and emails, letters or announcements asking them to pay a processing fee in advance of their visa appointment.
|Source: US Embassy in Kathmandu|
Despite Trump, millions hope to win what could be the last U.S. green-card lottery
On Tuesday, more than 14 million people around the world, including anxious applicants in the Washington area, will begin checking computers and smartphones in one of the strangest rituals of the U.S. immigration system. When the clock strikes noon in the nation’s capital, they will be able to visit a State Department website, enter their names, years of birth and 16-digit identification numbers. Then they will press “submit” to learn whether they have won one of the world’s most coveted contests: the U.S. green-card lottery.
Each year, the Diversity Visa Lottery, as it is officially known, provides up to 50,000 randomly selected foreigners — fewer than 1 percent of those who enter the drawing — with permanent residency in the United States.
The current lottery coincides with an intense debate over immigration and comes amid policy changes that have made the country less welcoming to new arrivals. President Trump has cracked down on illegal immigration and pressed forward with plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico. He has issued executive orders targeting foreign workers, refugees and travelers from certain majority-Muslim countries.
But he hasn’t said a word about the green-card lottery.
Its days may be numbered, nonetheless. The lottery appears to conflict with the president’s call for a “merit-based” immigration system. And at least two bills in the Republican-controlled Congress seek to eliminate the program.
“The Diversity Lottery is plagued with fraud, advances no economic or humanitarian interest, and does not even deliver the diversity of its namesake,” according to a news release from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a co-sponsor of one of the bills.
In the eyes of its supporters, the lottery provides the United States with positive public relations, countering the perception that the country no longer lives up to the ideals symbolized by the Statue of Liberty.
For past winners and current applicants, the lottery is something simpler: a golden ticket that not even the United States’ current political turmoil can tarnish.
“It changed my life,” said Victor Otero, 43, an accountant from Venezuela who won in 2009 and moved to Maryland a year later. “Look at what has happened to [Venezuela] while I’ve been here. I feel privileged.”
The lottery’s premise is simple. It’s not connected to employment or family members in the United States. Instead, the only requirement is that entrants be adults with a high school diploma or two years of work experience. Winners can bring spouses and children. Citizens of countries that have sent 50,000 people to the United States in the past five years — such as Canada, China, India, Nigeria and Mexico — are ineligible to participate.
The lottery, launched in its present form in 1995, is especially beloved in Eastern Europe and Africa. In recent years, the two regions have accounted for more than two-thirds of lottery winners. In Liberia and other countries in western Africa countries, nearly 10 percent of the population applies each year.
Around the world, businesses connected to the lottery — Internet cafes, travel agencies, passport-photo studios — have boomed. But so have scams in which people are tricked into paying money to enter the lottery, which is free. Bogus, official-looking websites are common. Sometimes, companies enter people without their knowledge, then hold their access information for ransom, State Department officials said.
Otero paid a company $150 to enter. When he won, the company demanded an additional $3,000 before an American friend told him he didn’t have to pay.
Entries plummeted when the lottery moved online in 2003 but have since rebounded. Facial recognition software now allows the State Department to detect multiple entries, which are not allowed. Every year, roughly a quarter of the entries are thrown out.
The program — operated from a consular center in Williamsburg, Ky. — has been on the chopping block before. It came under attack in 2002 after an Egyptian terrorist who killed two people in Los Angeles was found to be in the United States through his wife’s diversity visa. Mohamed Atta, another Egyptian and one of the 9/11 suicide pilots, had entered the lottery twice before entering the United States on a different visa to study aviation.
“If you’re a terrorist organization and you can get a few hundred people to apply to this from several countries . . . odds are you’d get one or two of them picked,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told The Washington Post in 2011 after introducing an ill-fated bill to kill the program.
State Department officials insist that lottery winners are vetted just as thoroughly as other potential immigrants to the United States.
In 2013, the last time Congress attempted a bipartisan overhaul of immigration law, a bill proposed by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) would have axed the program. When the immigration effort died, the lottery got another lease on life.
Since its inception, the lottery has brought more than a million people to the United States. But not all the winners end up with green cards. Some never follow up. Others cannot provide documents, fail in-person interviews at local embassies or consulates, or get cold feet.
Winning is often a mixed blessing. Once awarded a visa, winners have only six months to move to the United States. They must hurriedly wind up their affairs, leave behind careers and relatives, and pick a new place to live.
Tarig Elhakim was in medical school in Sudan when his father persuaded him to apply in the fall of 2014. He was stunned when he won. He began studying American history and geography in preparation for his move. And he spent months battling Sudanese bureaucrats for documents, which then had to be translated into English.
His interview wasn’t until August of last year. At the U.S. Embassy, he saw one dejected applicant after another emerge from the interview room. But when it was his turn, the official stamped his papers and said, “Welcome to America.”
“I had goose bumps all over my body,” said Elhakim, 22. “It was one of the happiest moments of my life.”
But America was changing. In 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims such as Elhakim coming to the United States. Then Trump was elected president in November.
Elhakim decided he had better move to the United States before Trump took office. He flew to Washington on Dec. 28, less than a month before the inauguration. He now lives in Arlington, Va., and is studying for his medical license so he can work as a doctor here.
Even if the green-card lottery survives another session of Congress, Trump’s court-stymied entry bans have already sown confusion over the program. Of the six majority-Muslim countries included in the most recent proposed ban, people in two — Iran and Sudan — were among the biggest winners of diversity visas in 2016.
“If the injunction on the travel ban is lifted, it would apply to this program, and no one from the banned countries would be allowed to enter,” said Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Even if the entry ban never goes into effect, the administration’s threats of “extreme vetting” could slow the process so much that winners are unable to come to the United States, Johnson added.
Among those anxiously awaiting this year’s results is Elhakim’s roommate, Abdelsalam Khalafalla. The 24-year-old was born to Sudanese parents in Saudi Arabia and grew up there but does not have Saudi citizenship. He is in the United States on a student visa that will one day expire.
“Going back to Sudan or Saudi is not an option for me,” he said.
And so, on Tuesday, like millions of others, Khalafalla will pull up the State Department website, click “Submit” and learn whether luck has smiled on him.
A one in a million chance at a better life: will the US green card lottery survive?
etting “randomly selected” by the US state department would usually strike fear in the heart of foreigners. But on Tuesday, more than 100,000 people around the world will be chosen for the state department’s diversity immigrant visa program, also known as the green card lottery.
The prize? A golden ticket to the land of the free, and the possibility of a new life.
The green card lottery is a uniquely American proposition. Every year, 50,000 people win the chance to become permanent residents simply by filling out an online form in the fall. The process is random, and names are simply drawn out of millions of entries.
You don’t need to be sponsored, you don’t need family in the US, you don’t need employment. You do not need to fill out dozens of forms, get a medical exam or be closely vetted to apply (although you will face such requirements if you’re selected). Not everyone is eligible, however: citizens of countries that have had 50,000 green cards awarded in the last five years – including the UK, Mexico, Canada, China, India and Brazil – cannot apply.
Radovan Serbula, who came from Croatia in 1997 with his wife and young son after winning the green card lottery, says it was not an easy decision. “We didn’t know anybody in the US – no friends, no family,” he said. “We moved over here with no job, no English, nothing. But we decided to go and give it a shot.”
He left a successful career as an international basketball coach behind and, upon arrival in the US, earned $6 an hour working in the stockroom of a toy store in Boston. His first paycheck for a week of full-time work wasn’t enough to cover his rent, so Serbula started working nights as a parking valet, stuffing tips in his pockets.
Two decades on, he owns a personal training studio which employs six workers – the classic tale of an immigrant who chased the American dream.
Stories like Serbula’s, however, might soon become rarer. Two different bills, one in the US Senate and one in the House of Representatives, are attempting to get rid of the diversity lottery. Donald Trump has promised to tighten immigration policies and focus on “hiring American”, making it harder for foreigners to enter the US. Dumping a program that lets 50,000 randomly chosen people come and live here might be an obvious decision in the eyes of his supporters.
Even some Democrats, including the New York senator Chuck Schumer, have called for it to be abandoned, seeing it as an easy concession to Republicans in exchange for protecting Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
This raises the question: does the green card lottery still have a role to play in American life? Or is it an indulgence that should be discarded?
I’ll admit, my interest in the green card lottery isn’t purely journalistic. Politics is always personal, and my name is entered in this year’s green card lottery (the fifth or sixth time I’ve applied – I have lost count).
Luckily for me, it’s pretty easy for Australians to work in the US, but a green card would help my employment prospects and also stop the waves of anxiety every time I have to enter the country or await a visa appointment.
And so every October, I get a photo taken professionally, out of fear that I’ll stuff up the strict requirements if I snap it myself. I type out the basic details of my life – name, date of birth, city of birth, nationality, level of education – upload the photo, hit the enter button and cross my fingers.
And on 2 May, I and millions of others around the world (there were 9,388,986 applications in 2015) will log on to the state department website, type in our ID numbers and see if we’ve been “randomly selected” to become future green card holders.
The existence of the program is partly due to the luck of the Irish.
“The Irish were basically screwed from emigrating to America,” said Brian J Donnelly, a former congressman from Massachusetts who created the first green card lottery, in 1986.
The 1965 Immigration Act had put the focus of immigration policy on skilled workers and family sponsorship visas, meaning green cards were mainly being allocated to just a handful of countries – Mexico, India, China and the Philippines.
Donnelly represented thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants living in Boston after a resurgence in Irish immigration in the late 1980s.
In the past, US immigration policy had discriminated against people from Asia; now, those from western Europe and Africa had limited immigration options, explained Donnelly.
“It’s just a matter of fairness. No one area of the world should have access to the American dream at the expense of others,” said Donnelly, who served as a Democratic US congressman from 1979 to 1993.
“A lottery would be the fairest way, no favoritism. We literally couldn’t think of a fairer way to do it,” said Donnelly.
Of course, there were teething problems. In 1986, authorities provided 10,000 visas, and 40% went to Irish immigrants because the policy was first come, first served. The state department were overwhelmed with mail, particularly because people applied multiple times.
“It really never worked. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t already been repealed,” said Donnelly, who noted that the program did little to diversify the incoming population because the 50,000 lottery winners make up only a tiny part the nation’s entire immigration intake. For example, in 2015, about 550,000 people emigrated to the US, and 11 million temporary visas – including work and student visas – were given out.
“Frankly, I can’t see it surviving into the future. I think America is going to move to a more needs-based immigration system. And this system is just random.”
But there’s beauty in randomness.
“We should never go away from our tradition of allowing people in regardless of whether they’re rich or poor or smart or dumb,” said Donnelly, whose grandparents were Irish immigrants. “My ancestors weren’t skilled workers, I can tell you. And their grandson grew up to a be a congressman and a US ambassador.”
While the numbers may seem insignificant, the diversity lottery has increased immigration from African countries. More people from Ghana applied for the green card lottery in 2015 than any other country (in fact, 1.7 million people – or 7% of Ghana’s population – applied, largely due to the country’s economic instability).
“People think the US is a quick gateway to a successful life,” Ghanaian Andrew Bayor, 33, told me via WhatsApp. He’s a specialist in IT and communications in developing countries, and had hoped to go to the US to study after completing his graduate degree in Ghana. He saw a green card as the easiest way to do that – and possibly a way to increase his chance at scholarships.
He applied every year from 2007 to 2012 before giving up.
“I think most people in Africa are well aware of the well-known ‘American dream’. In this dream, people like me find quality education as a path to success. Others think about making good money as jobs are readily available in the US,” he said. Plus, thanks to a low exchange rate, “with a few thousand [US] dollars, you can start a big business in Ghana and become successful”, he added, noting that Ghanaians who emigrate are expected to send money to family back home.
But Bayor, like millions of others in Ghana, didn’t win the green card lottery. He was disappointed at first, and then he decided to look elsewhere for success – first getting a master’s degree in the UK, then working in China. He is now off to Australia for further studies.
“What I can say is that God has been good to me and I don’t think life could have been better than it is if I had won the lottery and emigrated to the US. I wanted quality education in the US – well, I did not get that from the US but I got it from the UK,” said Bayor.
Others aren’t ready to give up on the dream.
Ismahen Poirel, a 21-year-old French chef, is effusive in her adoration of the US and desperate to win a green card. In 2014 and 2015, she worked in a country club in Connecticut as part of her French culinary school studies.
“I felt like I finally belonged somewhere. I loved everything about it, the language, the work ethic, the way people think and their kindness, the way everything seems to be possible if you work hard for it, or also the way you can dress however you want and you don’t feel judged,” she said via text.
“I know it is the place where I want to start my life. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere else. It might sound stupid, but in my own home town I’m just so, so unhappy. And all I can think about it finding a way to finally move to this country I love so much,” added Poirel, who is from Reims, the home of champagne.
But not everyone who enters her name into a website is ready to pledge support for Uncle Sam.
Australian Elle Ross, 26, spent 2013 to 2014 interning in New York and “despised” it by the end, the winter too cold and Americans’ inability to understand her cultural references too frustrating.
But upon her return to Melbourne, she felt like “a little lost lamb” and decided to enter the lottery on a whim. In early 2015, she won.
Australians entering the lottery, according to one visa website, had a 5% chance of getting selected in 2013, making it one of the five easiest countries to win the lottery.
In 2015, 1,798 Aussies nabbed a green card.
“People congratulate me all the time. I didn’t actually do anything. This isn’t a big achievement, it’s lucky,” said Ross, who runs a small gallery.
She has spent hundreds of dollars getting her green card processed – medical checks, flights to the consulate in Sydney, visa costs – and thousands more on two short trips to Los Angeles. On her last visit, for three weeks in February, US border authorities told her she had to move to the US soon or she’d lose the green card.
She plans to move to Los Angeles next year, after she finishes her graduate studies, although she seems ambivalent about it.
“There’s also a peer pressure to take it. Everyone’s got their opinions, telling me: ‘You’d be crazy not to go,’” said Ross.
Except, as Ozlem Erol and her family realized, coming “home” isn’t easy either.
She and her husband had a comfortable life in Turkey before they won the lottery on their second try, in 1997, when their son, Hakan, was three. After visiting public schools in the US, they decided that Hakan would be able to attend them and still get into a good college, something considered impossible in their circles in Turkey.
They moved to the US in 1999, but after struggling to find good jobs by the end of the first year, returned to Istanbul. Five months later, however, they were back in California, determined to give it another go and not waste their green cards.
Eighteen years later, Hakan is about to graduate with a computer science degree from the University of Southern California and both Ozlem, 50, and her husband, Bulent, 52, run their own businesses.
“We didn’t have to flee our country, nothing major, but the biggest force was to live in a civilised country and to give our son a better future,” she explained.
Being “welcoming” to all immigrants is no longer popular with politicians nor much of the public.
“It’s one of the most divisive issues in society,” said Jeffrey Sachs, a university professor at Columbia University in economics and sustainable development and author of Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair & Sustainable.
Vicious debate over immigration policies is now “common to Europe and the United States and one of the main reasons is [that] since the mid-1960s, the foreign-born population has increased from 5% to 15%. That’s a large increase, of mainly Hispanic immigration, and it has led to a backlash,” said Sachs.
One key problem with immigration policy is that there’s no broad international agreement on migration law, although the UN is now working on a global process to come up with a set of agreed principles by 2019.
Sachs commends Canada for its immigration policy, saying it maintains a balance of skilled and unskilled workers, family reunification visas and refugees, with clear guidelines.
“We should have openness to many types of people to many regions around the world. We should not be in the business of just encouraging a brain drain from poorer countries. When we attract skilled workers from very poor countries, we may be doing nobody a favor,” he said.
It might be weird to see one small piece of government policy as a reflection of American inclusiveness, but that’s how I see the green card lottery.
Maybe that partly comes from living in New York City, where the cliched lyrics of “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” are drilled into the brains of the many hopefuls who flock here, despite the high rent and the miserable winters.
But Andy J Semotiuk, a US and Canadian immigration attorney based in New York, offers another reason to embrace the program: he’s only worked with a handful of green-card lottery winners because, he says, most just do it themselves without legal help.
“This is the only instance where an average Joe, housewife or a mechanic, just an ordinary person – not a PhD holder, not a Harvard professor, not an engineer – could apply. And that continues to be the beauty of it,” he said.
“Nowhere else are you going to find ordinary people, from different parts of the world, feeding the American melting pot and enriching the lives of Americans in the way this program does.”