Diversity visa lottery brings people from countries with low immigration rates into US

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) —  Every year, the United States welcomes millions of immigrants and a small fraction of them are admitted through a diversity lottery visa.

Immigration attorney Ginger Jacobs says the program is different from more conventional visas, which permit people to enter the U.S. based on family connections or because they are sponsored though an employer.

About 125,000 people are chosen through a lottery system which draws from countries that don’t typically have many immigrants living in the U.S.

Of that number, up to 50,000 people a year are able to complete the process. The visa recipients are fingerprinted, and undergo the same extensive background checks for immigrants who enter on family or employment visas.

Currently, the greatest number of family based visas are awarded to people from Mexico or the Phillipines. Immigrants from India and China constitutie the greatest number of visa recipients who are granted work-related visas.The diversity visa lottery was established throuigh a bill passed in 1990 to give people from countries with lower immigration rates a better chance to become American citizens.

The 29-year-old man accused of carrying out the attack in New York City came to the U.S on a diversity visa. While some say this man is one reason the United States should scrap the program, Attorney Ginger Jacobs says, "there is no link between the distribution of the diversity visa and terrorism ."

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