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Thousands of winners of the green card lottery are denied visas: 5 main reasons and how to challenge them

The green card lottery is one of the easiest ways to legally move to the United States. Each year, less than 1% of its participants are selected to apply for an ethnic diversity visa, and only about 50 of the 000-80 winners receive green cards. Why are thousands of people being denied visas under this program every year? More importantly, how can such a refusal be challenged? Tells Otkaznik.ru.

Photo: Shutterstock

Recall that it will be possible to check the status of applications for drawing green cards in the lottery for 2022 (DV-2022) from May 8, 2021 to September 30, 2022. How to do it, read in the material ForumDaily... During this period, the results of the draw, which was held from October 7 to November 10, 2020, will be available.

While the Green Card Lottery has enabled hundreds of thousands of people around the world to pursue their American Dream, countless others have broken hearts, brought disappointment, canceled visas, lifelong travel bans and emptied pockets. Why are visas denied and what can be done about it?

Reasons for rejection of the lottery

In general, Green Card Lottery waivers can be grouped into 5 categories:

1) 221 (g);

2) lack of the required qualifications;

3) criteria of inadmissibility;

4) inadmissibility according to the rules of the lottery;

and 5) failure to comply with lottery instructions.

Disclaimer under article "Administrative processing"

A consular officer may resort to a waiver under section 221 (g) in the following cases:

  • the applicant was unable to provide the required document (for example, a certificate from the police of another country);
  • the consul wished to verify the authenticity of the applicant's documents (for example, a diploma) or the authenticity of the relationship (for example, marriage or parenthood);
  • if a US government agency conducts a security / criminal background / technology / or other review.

The problem with these checks is that they have to be completed and the visa issued before September 30th. Otherwise, the "winning lottery ticket" becomes invalid. Every year, those living in countries with high levels of fraud are targeted by Article 221 (g) and the 30 September time limit, leading to lengthy document verification processes by consuls; applicants interviewed in August or September; and Muslim men from the Middle East undergoing heightened security checks.

On the subject: How many green card holders in the USA: who they are, where they came from and where they live

"Lack of qualifications"

The lottery rules do not require something impossible: you can apply for a visa either with the equivalent of a US secondary education, or if you have worked for 5 years in a profession that requires at least 2 years of study or experience in the last 2 years. But the consul can challenge the applicant's educational level and work experience in various ways. For example, he may question the applicant's educational level, concluding that:

a) although a high school diploma is genuine, it is not at all equivalent to graduating from high school in America;

b) the high school diploma is not genuine (that is, it is fake);

c) the applicant has not actually attended or completed the required courses.

For example, one consul suspected that the applicant had not finished school and decided to take a test in Russian (although it was the third language of the applicant), which ultimately led to a visa refusal. During the Trump era, the State Department authorized consuls to conduct such "tests" on lottery winners, and while they were introduced to combat fraud, the consuls were clearly abusing them. When the consul refuses the applicant on these grounds, he either invokes Section 3 (a) (212) (A) - failure to demonstrate required qualifications, or issues a permanent ban on entry under Section 5 (a) (212) (C) (i) - provision of forged documents.

Unacceptable by criteria

The same criteria apply to lottery winners as to other immigrants: medical, criminal, security criteria, illegal stay, etc. With the introduction of the new social burden rule in 2018-2020, lottery winners have become especially vulnerable. Under Section 212 (a) (4) (A), among lottery winners, the risk of being denied a public liability clause was increased for the following:

a) older winners (> 50);

b) persons with limited assets (for example, real estate);

c) those who do not know English;

d) those who have insufficient skills in demand in the market or limited work experience; e) those who do not have relatives or sponsors in the United States;

f) those who do not have a job offer in the United States.

But on March 9, 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed the caserelated to President Donald Trump's controversial rule that made it difficult for an immigrant to obtain permanent resident status or citizenship if he used certain government benefits. Susan Welber, a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, said in an interview that the Trump rule "will now be blocked while the Biden administration continues the process of reviewing and deciding on the new rules."

On the subject: Why should a green card lottery winner read the visa bulletin and how to do it correctly

Ineligibility with a lifelong ban, including sham marriage

The winner of the Lottery must do everything in his power to ensure that his other half has a chance to immigrate. Therefore, if the winner is not married at the time of selection, he or she must register the marriage prior to the visa interview to ensure that the spouse is also able to immigrate. This is fertile ground for scams, as single winners enter into fictitious marriages for money and the opportunity to immigrate.

This category of marriages, called "float marriages" because they occur after the lottery selection stage, is subject to careful consular review, sometimes leading to erroneous conclusions. Often, the consul conducts separate interviews with the husband and wife (“What is his favorite toothpaste?”, “Which side of the bed does she sleep on?”, “Show me the key to your apartment”), or the Embassy sends consular investigators to interview neighbors. If the consul decides that the marriage is fictitious, the lottery winner will be permanently banned from entering the United States for “smuggling foreigners” (Section 212 (a) (6) (E)), and his / her spouse will be issued a lifelong ban on on the basis of a material misstatement of fact (section 212 (a) (6) (C) (I)).

Suspicion of non-observance of lottery instructions

As with section 221 (g), the vast majority of lottery winners are rejected in this area. The reasons are varied. The three most common are:

a) "defective" photograph - that is, not "recent"; colored background instead of light; the photo was subjected to Photoshop; the ear is not visible in the photo; the applicant does not look like himself in the photograph; lighting is inadequate (for example, a shadow falls on the face);

b) lack of information about some family members - the applicant did not include in the application his spouse, with whom he no longer lives, or children who do not immigrate with him;

c) "incorrect" English-language spelling of the name in the application - the name is written according to the spelling of the local language.

A streamlined interpretation of these instructions gives consuls a wide field of action: how can a consul determine if a photo submitted with an application was “recent” if it was submitted more than 12 months before the visa interview? What exactly is meant by a "light" background? How can a consul rule that you are married if you are not? Identify one or two children you have? How can he determine that you were not able to get a photo of your son, who now lives with your ex-wife in another country? There are many problem situations and denials based on consular suspicions that the lottery rules have been violated. “Play next year” is all that is said to comfort such applicants.

What can you do to challenge a Lottery waiver?

While US law prohibits “arbitrary and biased” decision making, “abuse of freedom of action,” and “not in accordance with the law,” as can be seen from the above, this does not prevent consuls from inventing new reasons for denying a visa.

All denials of applications for a lottery visa can be appealed: the refused applicant has every right to demand a reconsideration of the case by presenting new evidence and documentation or questioning the correctness of the consular decision.

Additional evidence may be presented to resolve consular suspicions. For example, to solve the problem of the authenticity of the diploma, a letter from the Ministry of Education of the applicant's country or an apostilled diploma can be submitted. To prove that the applicant has attended classes, evidence may be provided in the form of a yearbook, school diary, or actual class work since enrollment. In cases where work experience is in doubt, salary documents, information from the pension fund and manufactured products may be submitted. Some problems, such as providing an old photo, may not be resolved. In other cases, local registration regulations, family law, DNA testing, hospital records, custody agreements, alimony payments, court orders, immigration permits, etc. may be required.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

It is important to remember that even in cases of unintentional non-compliance with the rules, the consul has the right, at his discretion, to issue a visa by lottery. For example, if the birth of a child coincided with the application for DV, and the child was not included in the questionnaire because he / she did not yet have a name or photo at the time of application, it would be advisable to use this freedom of action for the good and issue a visa. The consul should also keep in mind that applications close on September 30th and try to push through section 221 (g) cases before the program closes.

Finally, if challenging the waiver decision is impractical, there are other options. For the spouse of a lottery winner who has been rejected (for example, due to a previous conviction), there are two options:

1) apply for a waver after the lottery winner has entered the United States as an immigrant (of course, the waver must be submitted and approved by September 30th), or

2) submit a close relative's I-130 petition followed by an application for a waver.

For a child who did not have time to obtain an ethnic lottery visa before September 30 and is separated from their immigrant parents, a humanitarian password may be a suitable option.

The stakes are obviously very high. Attending an Ethnic Diversity Visa interview alone can incur thousands of dollars in costs for a family: non-refundable visa fees; and travel expenses; medical examinations; translation services. At a minimum, refusal to issue such a visa will result in the cancellation of a nonimmigrant visa and make it difficult to obtain a visitor or student visa in the future. In the worst case, a denial of a lottery visa could result in a permanent ban from entering the United States.

For many, winning the lottery is the only real chance to get a ticket to a new life: without a close relative or a job offer in the United States, special talents or wealth, the paths for immigration to the United States are practically closed. The deadline until September 30 creates additional difficulties, forcing the search for a faster and more efficient solution to issues.

Read also on ForumDaily:

How often citizens of post-Soviet countries are denied American visas

False hope: how social media ads for immigration services are misleading

Green card for a relative: how much money a sponsor should have

'Welcome Friends': Biden Recorded Video For US Citizenship Immigrants

Miscellaneous In the U.S. immigration to the USA immigration visa green card lottery Immigration in the USA
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