Today, President Donald J. Trump posted on Twitter anti-immigrant statements regarding terrorism and Diversity Visa program. In response, Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) stated the following:
“President Trump should be focused on funding anti-terrorism initiatives, which he has proposed to cut from his latest budget, rather than exploiting yesterday’s horrific tragedy in New York to pursue his anti-immigrant agenda. Falsely attacking the bipartisan, merit-based Diversity Visa program, which adds so much to the vibrancy of the United States, is a distraction that will not make America greater nor safer.”
Amaha Kassa, Executive director of African Communities Together (ACT), an NYIC member organization further responded:
"As an organization of African immigrants, many of our members came to the United States via the Diversity Visa lottery. Because the selection criteria for the Diversity Visa is very demanding, Diversity Visa recipients are among the most skilled and talented professionals. We should be welcoming them not closing doors."
FAQs on Diversity Visa program
Q: What is the Diversity Visa program?
A: The Diversity Visa lottery program provides an opportunity to a limited number of immigrants from countries with historically low immigration rates, who meet specific merit-based criteria to come to the United States. The random, computer-selected lottery winners receive an immigrant visa provided that they pass extensive background checks, satisfy eligibility requirements, and qualify under the government’s general rules for visas. Only 50,000 diversity visas are awarded each year. Over the last decade, an average of 16 million people have applied each year for the annual lottery; during the application period for fiscal year 2017, about 19 million people applied for the Diversity Visa program.
Q: When was the Diversity Visa program created?
A: The diversity immigrant category was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 under the guidance of President George H. W. Bush to stimulate immigration from parts of the world that are under-represented in the U.S. When signing the bill, President Bush said, “This act recognizes the fundamental importance and historic contributions of immigrants to our country.”
Q: What are the requirements to receive a Diversity Visa?
A: Diversity Visa applicants must have a high school education, its equivalent, or two years of qualifying work experience as defined under provisions of U.S. law. Those selected for a Diversity Visa must also complete and pass a consular interview and a medical examination, pay a $330 fee and not be otherwise inadmissible according the U.S. immigration law. There are no special provisions for the waiver of any ground of visa ineligibility. The Diversity Visa is a merit-based immigration program.
Q: Who has benefited from the Diversity Visa program?
A: The Diversity Visa plays an integral role in keeping the possibility of the American Dream alive for individuals from countries who are under-represented in our immigration system. Individuals from African countries received the most Diversity Visas in 2015. If a country has had more than 50,000 of its citizens immigrate to the United States in the previous five years, it is not eligible for the Diversity Visa program.
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State. We envision a New York state that is stronger because all people are welcome, treated fairly, and given the chance to pursue their dreams. Our mission is to unite immigrants, members, & allies so all New Yorkers can thrive. We represent the collective interests of New York's diverse immigrant communities and organizations and devise solutions to advance them; advocate for laws, policies, and programs that lead to justice and opportunity for all immigrant groups; and build the power of immigrants and the organizations that serve them to ensure their sustainability, to improve people's lives, and to strengthen our state.