State Department Announces Visa Lottery Winners
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | June 2020
The State Department announced that 55,000 individuals won the chance to become American citizens through chance alone. The “Diversity Visa” lottery for the 2021 fiscal year took place roughly a month after the State Department postponed it due to coronavirus concerns and slowdowns.
The visa lottery is a controversial program. The United States gives out over 50,000 green cards a year to nationals of countries who do not send large numbers of immigrants. This is in an attempt to “diversify” the immigrant pool and was initially created in the Immigration Act of 1990 as a carve-out for Irish nationals that wanted to come to the United States. Only countries with low numbers of emigrants in the United States are eligible to apply for the visa lottery.
The State Department has yet to disclose any statistics related to this fiscal year’s winners. In fiscal 2019, the latest available data, most lottery winners came from Africa and Europe. The highest-sending countries in those years were Egypt (3,312) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (3,096). Further, over 2,000 winners came from Nepal, Albania, Russia, and Ukraine. Barring major immigration changes across all categories, it is likely that scores of FY 2021’s winners came from these countries.
President Trump criticized the visa lottery early in his presidency, but has done little to attempt to end it. In 2017, an immigrant from Bangladesh entered the New York subway and tried to detonate a pipe bomb. He came to the United States through chain migration by way of his uncle, a diversity visa recipient. Following this failed attack, President Trump announced that he wanted Congress to terminate the visa lottery, saying that “I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program, diversity lottery, diversity lottery. Sounds nice, it is not nice, it is not good. It hasn't been good and we have been against it."
Clearly, nothing has changed regarding the administration of the visa lottery. Without Congressional action, it will continue unabated as one of the stranger and least understood entryways into American citizenship.