ARDC Diversity Lottery Registration nets nine winners
Last October, ARDC embarked upon a new project within the relocation department. In light of the increasing barriers to refugee relocation in Western countries, we decided to run the first-ever Diversity Lottery Registration. With a team of dedicated ARDC volunteers under the leadership of Marco Traversa and Dara Levy-Bernstein, we coordinated four registration days in October, 2011. Registering individuals from all of the African countries represented in the refugee community, ARDC was able to enter more than 500 people in the lottery. Winners were announced on May 1, 2012. Seven individuals from Eritrea and two from Sudan won this year. Not only are these individuals now qualified to apply to the US in order to secure an immigrant visa and an interview with the US Embassy, but their family members who registered at that time also qualify. This means that sixteen people from our group have a chance to go to the US. We are currently awaiting responses from the US Department of State and expect interviews to commence within the year.
“Green Card” Lottery
The Diversity Lottery, also known as the “Green Card Lottery”, is an opportunity to receive an immigrant visa to the United States. Usually such visas are only available to close family members of US Citizens or Permanent Residents, or to individuals with a special employment abilities. The lottery allows individuals with certain qualifications to apply for a random chance to become a permanent resident. The registration is free, although it can be a complicated process.
A slim, but real chance
The US Government has various goals in mind with the Diversity Lottery. Primary among them is ensuring that the US brings immigrants from under-represented areas. The government allots a certain number of visas per continent and does not allow individuals born in certain countries (China, Mexico, The Philippines, India, and others) to qualify. As African-born individuals constitute the smallest immigrant group to the US, the diversity lottery program is a unique opportunity where the chances, while slim (an estimated 2% for our population of registrants), are still better than any of the other options most refugees have to the US.
The US Government's Goals
Studies in the 1990s showed that African-born immigrants to the US are the most highly educated immigrant group per capita. It is the strengths of such diverse immigrant groups which necessitate this program to bring random entrants to the US. However, this goal brings with it a limitation. Applicants for the lottery only qualify for a visa if they have completed a high school education or work in a job within the past five years that requires a minimum of two years training – typically some sort of specialized work.
Lottery fraud plagues those who can least afford it
One of the biggest dangers of the lottery is the large number of fraudulent lottery registration companies on the internet or in internet cafes. You may be familiar with pop-ups declaring “Enter the Green Card Lottery” from companies advertising on the web. These people collect data and often issue fake win notices via email. Then they request money from the individual in order to continue the process. There have been numerous victims of these scams in the community. There is no reason to pay anyone to register you for the lottery – NONE. As the next registration season approaches, ARDC will be having talks about our program, including education about fraud.
Come next October
Of course, the best option is to register through ARDC this upcoming October. ARDC does not charge any fees to applicants. There is even a photograph station where the strict requirements for photos are checked and met by ARDC staff. ARDC hopes that, given last year's overwhelming interest in the project and the successful outcome, we will attract even more potential winners to ARDC and the support we offer.
Congratulations to the winners and to the volunteer staff who helped turn an idea into an encouraging success for the community.
David Jacobus, Esq.
David is a New York Attorney with immigration experience who provides consulting to ARDC on US Immigration issues. You can contact him at david@ARDC-Israel.org
The Asylum Application Assistance program is funded by the European Union. The overall objective of the action is to protect the rights of asylum seekers in the State of Israel through promoting a fair and just asylum application process.