Tag Archives: Green cards

Terrorist Attack Sparks Diversity Visa Concerns

The diversity visa lottery was an obscure program described as a quirk in the U.S. immigration system before this week’s terror attack in New York that left eight dead and sparked diversity visa concerns at the highest levels.

That all changed when it was reported that the New York City attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, came to the United States legally in 2010 from Uzbekistan through the diversity immigration lottery visa program.

President Donald Trump immediately pledged to abolish the program.

The diversity visa lottery has been described as one of the quirks of the U.S. immigration system.

diversity visa concern
Terrorist attack sparks diversity visa concern

Trump singled out the diversity program and one of its congressional sponsors, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reported NPR.

Ironically, even before the terrorist attack, the diversity visa program was expected to be living on borrowed time. Last May’s lottery was expected to be the last.

Every year, as many as 14 million people vie for up to 50,000 green cards that are handed out in the lottery.

The Washington Post noted last May’s lottery was likely to be the last. The current diversity visa concerns after the terror attack reinforce that impression.

The Diversity Visa Lottery rewards under one percent of the people who enter permanent residency status in the United States.

While Trump targeted predominately Muslim countries in his travel bans, he said little about the diversity visa lottery until the terrorist attack, although the program runs counter to his preference for merit-based immigration programs.

Earlier in 2017, two bills were introduced in the Republican-controlled Congress to eliminate the program.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the co-sponsor of one of the bills intended to end the lottery, spoke of fraud in the program and said it fails to deliver diversity, despite its name.

The diversity visa program was originally set up under Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The legislation created a new class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” They come from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. The program is concentrated on six geographical areas. No single country is allowed to pick up more than 7 percent of available visas.

The Washington Post reported Schumer did play a key role in drawing up the program to encourage immigration from nations who sent few national to the U.S. in 1990. His proposals formed part of a broader immigration package passed by Congress in a bipartisan vote and signed into law by a President George H.W Bush.

The Post noted  Schumer was also part of a bipartisan group of senators who sought to end the program in 2013.

Diversity Visa Concerns Are Focused on Uzbekistan

Africans make up the largest percentage of diversity visa recipients – about 44 percent.

The New York terrorist attack raises questions whether Uzbekistan has flown under the radar.

Uzbekistan — the home country of the accused New York attacker — received 958 visas in 2006. In 2010, the United States gave green cards to 3,596 people from the Asian country.

Find out more about the diversity lottery program on the Department of State website.

Contact David Macaulay at macaulaylegalmedia@gmail.com.

Gay and Lesbian Immigration Issues in the Wake of Landmark Ruling

In June, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the landmark case of United States vs. Windsor, which barred gay couples from the federal benefits attached to marriage. After the ruling, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made it clear her immigration agents would start accepting marriage-based visa applications from same-sex couples.

Napolitano stated in a press release “that all married couples are treated fairly and equally in the administration of our immigration laws.”

Janet Napolitano

The Eligibility of Lesbian and Gay Couples for Green Cards

The most significant change in the wake of the June, 2013, ruling is the eligibility of those in a lesbian or gay marriages for green cards on behalf of foreign national spouses.

DOMA had meant numerous same-sex couples were forced to live outside of the U.S., or separately from their partners, due to its denial of federal immigration benefits to same-sex couples.

The new ruling means gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual foreign nationals will now be eligible for the immigration benefits that others have received, provided they were married in a country or state that performs same-sex marriages. Currently, 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize same sex marriages. Unions and partnerships are allowed in Colorado.

The law is still developing in this fast-moving field but it should also include the recognition of step-child and step-parents relationships for same sex couples as well as deportation defenses and visa petitions for immigrants and non-immigrants.

Businesses

The Department of State will now recognize same-sex relationships and issue the appropriate visa classifications for people in same-sex relationships. This means the same-sex partner of an individual with an employment-based visa can receive a visitor B Visa and be able to join their partner.

Asylum Issues

There has been plenty of publicity about Russia’s controversial anti-gay laws, but the sad reality is members of the GLBT community are persecuted across the world. If you are in the U.S. and you face possible prosecution due to homosexuality in your home country, you may be able to claim asylum.

To obtain asylum you must be present in the U.S. in the first place. See the information about asylum provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

You must demonstrate a history of past persecution and a have well founded grounds to show you face future persecution. Members of the GLBT community fall into a particular social group that allows them to apply for asylum or withholding of removal.

However, the laws of your home country are relevant. If you are from a nation that has liberal laws towards homosexuality, you are less likely to gain asylum than if you are from a country that has strict laws against homosexuality such as parts of the Middle East and Africa.