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Botched Visa Lottery Dashes Hopes of 22,000 Would-Be U.S. Immigrants

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“We sincerely regret any inconvenience or disappointment this might have caused.”

According to the Daily Mail:

Roughly 22,000 would-be immigrants to the U.S. have had their hopes shattered.

That's because a computer glitch corrupted the State Department's annual worldwide lottery for 50,000 U.S. immigrant visas and the results will be scratched, the Obama administration revealed today.

It's a devastating blow to 22,000 would-be immigrants who were notified this year that they had won a chance to come and live legally in the United States.

Nearly 15 million people had entered the 2012 lottery hoping to win one of 50,000 U.S. immigrant visas available under a wild-card program for people who otherwise would have little hope of getting a coveted U.S. visa.

The software glitch caused what is supposed to be a random drawing to select 90 per cent of winners from entries submitted on only the first two days of the 30-day registration period that ended Nov. 3, the department said on Friday.

The Washington Post adds that:

The State Department will hold a new lottery with the existing pool of applicants and announce the winners by July 15, Donahue said. Applicants do not need to re-enter to be eligible, and no new applications will be accepted.

Winners of the erroneous lottery who aren’t selected again will be able to reapply next fall or in subsequent years, officials said.

David T. Donahue, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services, appeared in a recorded video message to address the error:

And the following statement was posted to the State Department web site (along with an FAQ about the situation):

We regret to inform you that, due to a computer programming problem, the results of the 2012 Diversity Lottery that were previously posted on this website have been voided.  They were not valid and were posted in error.  The results were not valid because they did not represent a fair, random selection of entrants, as required by U.S. law.

If you checked this website during the first week in May and found a notice that you had been selected for further processing or a notice that you had not been selected, that notice has been rescinded and is no longer valid.

A new selection process will be conducted based on the original entries for the 2012 program.

If you submitted a qualified entry from October 5, 2010 to November 3, 2010, your entry remains with us.  It will be included in the new selection lottery.  Your confirmation number to check results on this website is still valid.

We expect the results of the new selection process to be available on this website on or about July 15, 2011.

We regret any inconvenience this might have caused.

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