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

AP Report: Visa Lottery Winners Feel Cheated (And With Good Reason)

Through the visa diversity lottery, people from all over the world can apply for a green card to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. It is sometimes referred to as winning a green card because the odds of success are so modest. With variation from country to country, the odds of getting a green card through the lottery are typically between 1 in 25 and 1 in 75. 

Winning a green card is a big deal. It should bring joy and hope to immigrants and their families. Unfortunately, for tens to thousands of people, the last few months have brought more headaches than happiness. On July 2nd, the Associated Press (AP) published an important, illuminating story on the many visa lottery winners who “feel cheated” by President Trump’s sudden visa ban. 

President Trump’s Executive Order Upended the System

In March, many American consulates shut down to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. For people whose green card application was still pending, the process ground to a halt. The delays have gotten much worse: President Trump’s visa restrictions mean that many qualified people may not be able to get their visa in time to comply with statutory deadlines. 

To be clear, this is about far more than just a delay. Under U.S. regulations, diversity lottery winners must obtain a green card by September 30th, 2020. If they fail to do so, their spot may be forfeited. As of the time the Associated Press report was released, the State Department said no exceptions will be made for COVID-19 or the Trump Administration’s visa ban. 

Hindered By Lack of Opportunity, Hardworking Immigrants Disrupted Again

To best illustrate how much pain President Trump’s executive order is causing to vulnerable people, consider the story of Noha and her family. An engineer from Egypt, Noha was one of 55,000 foreign nationals who won the visa lottery in 2019. 

In February of 2020, she and her children got their green card applications approved and were able to move to New York. However, her husband (also an engineer) was still waiting for his application to be processed. At the time, they were told the process would likely take a few more weeks and that it was just a matter of paperwork. The visa ban has changed everything. 

In light of President Trump’s Executive Order, they fear that he will not receive a green card in time and will be forced to relinquish his spot in the United States. The family has already spent more than $10,000 on immigration fees and they both quit their job. It is almost an impossible choice: Go to New York with the kids alone or remain in Egypt. The federal government must take immediate action to fix this problem so that families are not cheated by the immigration system. 

Call Our Los Angeles, CA Immigration Visa Lawyers for Immediate Help

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our California immigration law team is focused on achieving the best possible outcome for our clients. If you have questions about the visa lottery or immigration law more broadly, we are here to help. Call us now at (213) 262-2000 for a confidential initial appointment. We serve communities throughout Southern California, including in Los Angeles, Anaheim, Long Beach, Beverly Hills, Garden Grove, Santa Monica, Inglewood, and Torrance.