They Love Us in Ghana, or the Visa Lottery, Yet Again

By David North on October 9, 2010

They really love us in Ghana, or at least that's the indications from the results of last year's Visa Lottery. (More on Ghana shortly.)

This is the program that brings 50,000 immigrant visas a year to people around the world who are: A) lucky, and B) have no family or financial ties to the U.S., and who are neither refugees nor needed workers. By definition, these are people who would not qualify in any other way to get an immigrant visas.

People from a list of about 20 countries that already have extensive numbers of immigrants in the U.S. cannot participate in the lottery. Canada, China, India, and Mexico are among the nations on that list.

The Visa Lottery applicants (or someone they hire) must be able to file a short document on the internet, and they are supposed to have a high school education, or its equivalent. And applying is totally free.

The annual filing period, reduced this year to 30 days, started October 5 and will run through Nov. 3. The winners will be able to come to the U.S. after the start of the 2011 fiscal year on October 1, 2011. The State Department's announcement is here.

I suggested in a previous blog that the U.S., if it continues this foolish program, could get a quarter-billion dollars a year simply by charging $20 to enter the lottery. There are usually about 12 million applicants each year.

Once selected for a visa, the usual fees are collected.

This year, according to a Ghanaian news report, the ranking U.S. consular officer in that West African country announced that Ghana had about 2,400 successful applicants (from the previous year's lottery), more than any other country in the world. He said that the U.S. staff had interviewed about 2,600 lottery winners, and apparently found that 200 of them were not qualified.

Given the heavy odds against success in the lottery – 50,000 winners vs. more than 12 million applicants, or a 1:240 ratio – something like 576,000 Ghanaians must have filed for the lottery, or about one out of forty residents of the country, which was a population of a little over 23 million.

As I noted in a blog last month, federal prosecutors in New Jersey recently broke up a visa-abuse scheme, involving both a resident of Ghana and the Visa Lottery program – and the ICE publicists handling the press release carefully did not mention the name of the program.

A few years ago the House of Representatives, in a vote on a floor amendment, roundly rejected the program, but the Senate took no action, and it continues to operate year after year.