Green card gives the Blues

A green card is the dream of many, in order to get a permanent visa to stay and work in the United States. People have to wait for a long time to fulfil this dream of theirs due to stringent procedures and norms. Just like many credit card and other plastic card scams, here’s a controversy that has gripped the green card.

A group of people who call themselves the “22,000 Hopefuls” are in the process of suing the US state department in order to prevent a   re-drawing of its  Diversity Lottery.

These people claim to have received a promise stating that their applications had been accepted and would be given preference over 19 million applicants after entering a yearly Green card lottery programme which had been offered by the Government of the United States.

This is actually the “Diversity Visa” programme. How this works is that the entrants names are picked at random by the computer and these selected candidates are given a number which they have to make use of to reach the final stage in getting selected for a permanent visa. These “diversity visas” are usually awarded randomly to people who come from countries that have a low emigration rate to the U.S.

The diversity visa lottery is one of the few ways in which people not having any connections in the U.S can settle there. It is applicable for those from countries that have not already sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the last five years. According to that, most European and African countries are eligible, but Mexico, China, India, the Philippines and 15 other nations don’t qualify for that.  The top countries for diversity visa applicants include Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

This time around, the US officials seem to have taken back the results after a glitch was apparently discovered in the technical front. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she sympathized with the plaintiffs and thousands of others who were almost sure of obtaining one of the 50,000 diversity visas, which are awarded randomly each year. She, however, sided the State Department saying that since the process has to abide by strict rules of random selection, the technical glitch seems to have favoured a few applicants while selection, which is unfair on the part of others.

The government voided the results and promised a redraw this summer. The results of the second lottery are to be released this Friday. One among the aspirants is 28 year old Anton Kuraev, a software engineer from Russia who is on a temporary work visa and aspired to stay in the U.S permanently. This happens to be the third time he has applied for a diversity visa, and just when he thought he’d finally caught hold of luck, luck punched right back at him.

Since there are millions of entrants, the probability of getting picked twice is negligible. For many, the diversity visa was the only silver lining in the dark cloud. Other visas are based on family connections, employer sponsorships or having suffered from political persecution.

“This lottery thing is — they’re saying, for the purpose of ethnic diversity. But clearly we are one of the most diverse countries on the face of the earth.” says Gallegly, chairman of the immigration subcommittee in the House of Representatives. Officials feel that the lottery for visas is also aiding terrorists and foreign spies, and hence needs to be done away with. Here’s hoping that luck favours the right people at the right time!

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