The visa lottery was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 in an attempt to bring individuals to the U.S. from countries that had been sending few immigrants to the United States in the past. Currently, approximately 50,000 foreign nationals per year are awarded visas based on pure luck to come and live permanently in the United States under the visa lottery program.
Problems with the Visa Lottery Program
- The visa lottery program presents a national security threat. Under the program, each successful applicant is chosen at random and given the status of permanent resident based on pure luck. A perfect example of the system gone awry is the case of Hesham Mohamed Ali Hedayet, the Egyptian national who killed two and wounded three during a shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport in July of 2002. He was allowed to apply for lawful permanent resident status in 1997 because of his wife’s status as a visa lottery winner.
- Usually, immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals that have an existing connection with a family member lawfully residing in the United States or with a U.S. employer. These types of relationships help ensure that immigrants entering our country have a stake in continuing America’s success and have the advanced skills to contribute to our nation’s economy. However, under the visa lottery program, visas are awarded to immigrants at random with no such safety precautions.
- The visa lottery program is unfair to immigrants who comply with the United States’ immigration laws. The visa lottery program does not prohibit illegal aliens from applying to receive a visa through the program. Thus, the program treats foreign nationals that comply with our laws the same as those that blatantly violate our laws. In addition, most family-sponsored immigrants currently face a wait of years to obtain a visa, yet the visa lottery program pushes 50,000 random immigrants ahead of these family-sponsored immigrants each year with relatively no wait. This sends the wrong message to the international community.
- The visa lottery program is wrought with fraud. A recent report released by the Center for Immigration Studies states that it is commonplace for foreign nationals to apply for the lottery program multiple times using many different aliases and other false personal information. In addition, the visa lottery program has spawned a cottage industry featuring sponsors in the U.S. who falsely promise success to applicants in exchange for large sums of money. Ill-informed foreign nationals are willing to pay top dollar for the “guarantee” of lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.
- The visa lottery program represents what is wrong with our country’s current immigration system and it sends the wrong message to foreign nationals who seek to enter the United States.