After the Halloween attack in New York, in which Uzbek national Sayfullo Saipov killed eight people by driving a truck onto a sidewalk, the president had harsh words for the program that brought him to the United States. The diversity visa lottery has existed for only about 30 years, but it has aided immeasurable amounts of immigrants, including many who have come to the United States and opened businesses, thus creating more jobs for U.S. citizens. Still, myths persist about what it is and what it is not.
Is it a Green Light for So-Called Undesirables?
Even before Saipov’s attack, there have been numerous pieces of misinformation circulating about the diversity visa lottery and its recipients. Perhaps the most pernicious is that the lottery is simply another way for low-skilled people to enter the United States. Contrary to popular perception, however, the countries that send the most potential immigrants to the U.S. are actually excluded from the diversity visa lottery. Because their countries almost always exceed their immigration quotas each year, citizens of countries like India, Mexico and the People’s Republic of China are not permitted to apply. The diversity lottery is intended to assist those who hail from a country with low immigration totals that may not otherwise receive a visa—for example, Saipov was an Uzbek citizen, and Uzbekistan’s immigration totals are routinely quite low.
Many also labor under the mistaken belief that the visa lottery is just that—a number is chosen, a random person is handed a visa and allowed to enter. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, while the winner is chosen by a random number generator, the person still must go through all the same background checks that anyone from his or her country would be required to undergo. Nationals of Saipov’s former country of Uzbekistan must already undergo what this administration calls ‘extreme vetting,’ given the country’s relative proximity to both Afghanistan and China, and this would be the case for any Uzbek who happened to win the visa lottery.
Concerns Over Security
Despite the vetting required for program recipients, calls to abolish the program have come steadily for the past few years, most alleging that it is simply unfair to those who have waited many years to enter the country. However, that argument rings somewhat hollow depending on its source. Many in academia and in technology object to the diversity visa program because they believe that those visas could be used to allow more highly skilled immigrants to enter the country, instead of the diversity entrants who must have a high school diploma. Yet anything more is optional. This is a commonly perpetuated argument, despite no indication that any bump in H1B or other skilled visas would be forthcoming if these people are shut out.
The result of this is that if you are one of the very few selected in the diversity visa lottery, you must prove yourself—not only to the standards of the current administration, but also to the normal admissibility standards. Hence, you must show that you have no criminal record and you have the appropriate amount of funds which will keep you from becoming a public charge. Program naysayers tend to forget these caveats.
Ask an Attorney for Help
If you or a loved one has received a diversity visa, you have gotten lucky once. However, a hard road still looms. Having help on your side can make a difference. The passionate Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to try and assist you with your case. Call our offices today to set up an appointment.
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