Dozens of people who were mistakenly told they had won a spot to apply for a U.S. visa through the annual visa lottery system are suing the U.S. government.
French native Armande Gil is a psychologist in Miami who is among those seeking class action status for a federal lawsuit filed last week in Washington. Gil said Tuesday she spent time and money preparing for her new life and was devastated to learn it was just a bureaucratic snafu.
She and others want to be reinstated as lottery winners.
Roughly 22,000 individuals were told in May they had been selected though they would still have to pass background checks. Then immigration officials discovered the supposedly random selection was skewed due to a computer glitch. A new lottery is set for July 15.
The drawing, which the State Department calls the Diversity Visa Lottery, is an annual free-for-all established by Congress in 1994 to increase the number of immigrants from the developing world and from countries with traditionally low rates of immigration to the U.S. Applicants do not have to have the usual family or employer sponsor.
The lottery selects 90,000 names from a pool of online entrants. That number is winnowed to 50,000 winners through attrition, interviews and educational and occupational rules.
For visas to be awarded in 2012, applicants had to submit entries between Oct. 5 and Nov. 3, 2010. The glitch meant that among 14.7 million entries, about 90 percent of the people picked to move on to the next step came from applications submitted the first two days.