New OIG Report Highlights Rampant Diversity Visa Fraud in Ukraine

By David Seminara on October 28, 2013

A new Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv (Kiev), released on Friday, reveals "indications of widespread fraud" in the Diversity Visa (visa lottery) program in Ukraine. "Organized fraud rings masquerading as travel agencies have taken control of the Diversity Visa program in Ukraine," the report bluntly states. "They buy, steal, or obtain from public sources personal information about Ukrainian citizens, especially those living in western Ukraine. They use this information to enter these citizens' names in the online Diversity Visa program Web site, often without their permission or awareness."

The OIG report says that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv estimates that the fraud ring enters the names of approximately 80% of the population of Western Ukraine into the DV lottery. Those who win are bullied into paying $15,000 or more; some are coerced into marrying someone who can emigrate to the States with them, even if they are already married; others become indentured servants after they arrive in the U.S. with a massive debt to pay to the gang who arranged their DV ticket. The gangsters even take possession of their "clients" social security cards, retaining them for "misuse" according to the report.

The Ukrainian thugs fill out the DV applications online and are given a code that one needs in order to get the visa, so it's impossible for successful applicants to claim the visa without their cooperation. The report states that "The Bureau of Consular Affairs should implement a program to address widespread diversity visa fraud in Ukraine in time for the 2015 Diversity Visa program." But why should the State Department keep the Ukraine on the list of eligible countries at all?

Every year, 50,000 foreign nationals from countries with supposedly low rates of immigration to the U.S. secure green cards via the DV lottery. But it seems to be the same countries which produce the most winners year in and year out. Ukraine is one of these. They had the most winners in 2013 with 6,424, and were near the top in 2012 (5,799) and 2011 (6,000.) Iran, Nigeria, Ghana, Eygpt, Ethiopia, and a handful of countries are also typically vastly overrepresented. (Citizens from other overrepresented countries like China, India, Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan, Canada, and others aren't eligible to apply.) Last year, nearly 8,000,000 people around the world applied for DVs but who knows how many were legitimate applications and how many were completed by criminals?

According to DHS's 2012 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (Table 3), more than 120,000 Ukrainians have obtained green cards in the last decade. I've been to Ukraine. It's a lovely country and the people are great, but can someone explain to me how American diversity would somehow suffer if we removed Ukraine from the list of countries eligible to win the green card lottery?

While we're at it, let's go ahead and scrap the entire green card lottery. It's true that there is something very egalitarian about the random nature of it, but we can afford to be picky about who we let in, so there is really no point in admitting people based on the spin of the wheel. Would you hire someone to babysit your children via a random lottery? Then why should we invite people to live here in such a fashion?

If fraud is rampant in Ukraine, you can bet it is in other countries as well. America is already an unbelievably diverse place, with or without this program. But if we really wanted to make it even more diverse, how about we use the entire allotment of 50,000 to reward citizens of countries where no one won the previous year?

Last year, not a single soul from Sao Tome and Principe, the Seychelles, Andorra, San Marino, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Liechtenstein, and a host of other small countries won the DV lottery. If we really want more diversity, why don't we issue an open invite to anyone from these countries? I presume that most people from these countries don't want to live in the U.S., so we could probably do away with the whole ungainly process and welcome anyone from these countries and still come in under the 50,000 limit. Of course, this wouldn't make a whole lot of sense, but it makes more sense than allowing the usual suspects in places like the Ukraine to continue to game the system every year.