The Diversity Visa (DV) Program, also known as the “green card lottery” is administered by the US State Department, and has long been part of immigration law and policy. Its purpose is exactly what its title suggests, to promote a more diverse US population by offering the possibility of immigrating to the United States to approximately 55,000 visa applicants per year who come from a variety of countries with lower rates of immigration to the US.
Applicants apply online but “winning the lottery” doesn’t mean that a visa to the United States is assured. Visa processing must be completed within the fiscal year, and includes substantial background checks and other requirements such as immigration physicals to ensure that a visa applicant does not pose a risk to the United States.
Applicants are also subject to a minimum education or work requirement. Guidelines posted on the state department website list the education requirement as the equivalent of high school in the US or a comparable course of study, and the work requirement as at least two years of experience over the last five years in an occupation requiring a minimum of two years training or experience to perform.
American nativists who advocate abolishing the DV program claim that it somehow makes America “less safe.” The recent truck terror attack in New York City, by a green card holder from Uzbekistan who was admitted a number of years ago under the DV program, provides the Trump Administration with a “perfect target” for abolishing the program. However, the President’s arguments fail basic logic tests.
First, there is no evidence that the individual committing the attack showed any evidence of being a risk during his DV application process. Available reports indicate that he became “radicalized” after living in the United States. To suggest that he should have been summarily excluded just because he was Muslim is really just another way of saying that all people of this faith should be excluded from the United States. And that is un-American.
Second, it is quite clear that in today’s troubled world mentally unstable people come from all walks of life, without regard to immigration status or nationality here in the United States. One need only point to the native born, white American terrorist in Las Vegas who used an assault weapon to slaughter over 50 people, and to wound nearly 500 who were attending a country western music festival, by firing his weapon from a high-rise hotel room. One wonders why he was not subject to “extreme vetting” as a condition of purchasing a deadly weapon that had the capacity to kill dozens in a very short period of time.
Brian D. O'Neill Attorney at Law, LLC
Immigration, Employment and Business Law