*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

Will the Diversity Visa Lottery Survive the Trump Administration?

Immigration is one of the most central issues in national politics today. In recent days, the lack of a deal to protect DACA recipients led to a 69-hour government shutdown. Now there is another budget deadline looming, and the Trump Administration has recently offered its immigration reform proposal. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the proposal from Trump Administration is ‘dead on arrival’.

While it proposes relief for DACA recipients, it also proposes draconian enforcement measures and dramatically restricted overall immigration. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has called the proposal a “ransom note” and an attempt to “tear apart our legal immigration system”. Among other things, the Trump Administration is targeting the Diversity Visa lottery. Notably, there are major misconceptions among the public and the media regarding how the Diversity Visa system actually works.

The Diversity Visa Lottery: Explained

The Immigration Act of 1990 created the Diversity Visa program. As stated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 50,000 diversity visas are issued annually. The odds of winning the lottery are small, as millions of people apply each year. Only people from ‘low admission’ countries are eligible to apply. The public often does not realize that the lottery is the only path that many people around the world have to immigrate to the United States. Most of the American immigration system is based on family reunification and work visas. The Diversity Visa lottery is essentially the only part of our current immigration system that resembles the system through which most Europeans came to the United States: a program that offers people who want to come this country an opportunity to apply.  

What President Trump Gets Wrong About the Diversity Visa Lottery

In a December speech before the FBI, President Trump offensively mischaracterized the applicants of the Diversity Visa program, stating that other countries were putting their “worst” people “in a bin”. This statement is both reprehensible and false. It reveals President Trump’s hostility towards immigration and his lack of understanding of how our system operates. No other country is directly involved in the process.

Applicants who want to contribute to the United States must submit an application on their own. There is a rigorous screening process that applicants are forced to go through before any visas are actually issued. Sadly, President Trump continues to attack the program. Despite the fact that Diversity Visas account for less than five percent of admissions into the United States each year, it has become a target that the president uses to attack immigrants and immigration. The Diversity Visa program offers real value to the United States and to people around the world; it should not be maligned.

We Support Immigrant Rights in California

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our law firm is committed to supporting immigrant rights in L.A. If you or a family member is considering pursuing a Diversity Visa, our immigration attorney in Los Angeless can help. For immediate assistance, please call us today at (213) 262-2000. We represent clients throughout Southern California, including in Los Angeles, Monterey Park, Inglewood, Glendale, Beverly Hills, and Pasadena.