Would-be US Immigrants Sue Over Visa Lottery Snafu

Posted June 21st, 2011 at 8:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Would-be immigrants from more than 20 countries have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department after being mistakenly informed they had won the U.S. immigrant visa lottery.

The plaintiffs are among 22,000 people who were informed earlier this year that they had been selected as finalists in the 2012 diversity immigrant visa lottery. But the State Department later said a computer error meant that almost all of the finalists had been chosen from people who submitted their applications in the first two days of the registration period, instead of randomly from the entire pool of 15 million applicants.

The State Department apologized and said it would redo the selection process.

But attorneys for the plaintiffs say the U.S. government broke a written commitment when it decided to start the selection process over. They say the plaintiffs made plans for their lives and employment based on the information that they had received.

The diversity visa lottery was established by the Congress in 1994 to increase the number of immigrants coming to the country from developing states and other countries with traditionally low rates of immigration to the United States.

A total of 90,000 applications will be selected, and lottery finalists will then submit more forms on their qualifications. Ultimately, 50,000 visas will be granted, with other selectees either choosing not to proceed with the process or being screened out for not meeting education, occupation or other requirements.