11 million apply for visa program

11 million apply for visa programAn annual lottery program for US visas that gives immigrants the opportunity to gain permanent residency in the United States has attracted over 11 million applicants so far in 2014; however, it seems that the program may soon be brought to an end by lawmakers.

The so-called ‘diversity visa program’ was created nearly a quarter of a century ago, back in 1990, to try to make the pool of immigrants a more diverse one. It has attracted as many as 14.8 million applications in a single year, but it is now facing an uncertain future. The program has seen 21% more applications this year than in 2013, the State Department says, which means that just 0.5% of those who applied will be successful in gaining US visas – and then only by sheer luck.

Opponents of the program claim that it brings in low-skilled immigrants often choose those with no connection to the United States rather than those with family links or sponsorship by an employer and that it poses security risks. This lottery would have been eliminated if the House of Representatives had passed the immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013, and analysts believe that the program would suffer the same fate if any overhaul of the system took place.

“A lottery is not a way to run an immigration system,” says Cornell Law School immigration professor Stephen Yale-Loehr. “It doesn’t strengthen family ties, promote our economic interests, or rescue refugees. Congress should abolish the program.”