Joy, Disappointment, and Scandal: Department of State Notifies DV-2012 Winners

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The day that millions of people waited for the world over ended in … scandal.  On May 1 DV-2012 Lottery participants learned their fate: whether their entries were selected, or were being told “better luck next year (if there is a Lottery next year).”  But what the losing participants did not count on was that the overwhelming majority of winners were those who submitted their entries on October 5 and 6, 2010, the first two days of the DV-2012 Lottery.  For DV-2012, the “early birds” did get the proverbial worm – the right to pursue immigrant visa applications at US consular posts abroad or adjust status to permanent resident if lawfully located in the United States.

As a reminder, the Department of State accepted DV-2012 entries from October 5 until November 3, 2010.  DOS encouraged applicants not to wait “until the last week” to submit their entries in order to avoid being locked out of the system by an expected surge in last-minute applications.    In its DV-2012 instructions, DOS notified applicants that “the computer will randomly select individuals from among all qualified entries.”  Absent from these instructions was notification that in order to be considered “qualified”, one needed to have submitted his entry on October 5th and 6th, at least for the overwhelming majority of those being selected.

I first learned of the Fivers and Sixers from two independent, reliable DV sources in Uzbekistan and Ukraine.  I then checked out a few Internet fora (which I rarely do), and found that they were ablaze with fury.  This link has a representative discussion:!!!&s=5859d161e9c0c0a1c368e3d936827a90 According to one entry, “… there is the user on this forum that claims his company prepared 252643 entries and had been submitting them 10000-12000 per day from 7 to 29. First day – on 6th they were submitting fewer entries (2250) as they were testing.   AND THE WINNERS WERE: 1301 wins on 6th, 0 wins from 7 till 17, 57 wins from 18 to 29.”  The consensus appears to be that a minor bug in the computer’s algorithm led to the problem, although this is of course little succor to those not selected.

One side effect of this skewed selection is that numerous husband and wife entrants each were selected.  Obviously, qualified individuals in the same family are likely to submit their separate entries at or about the same time.  As a result, husbands and wives who submitted on October 5th and 6th were more likely to be selected separately than if the entries were selected evenly over the 30 day registration period. Because only one “winning ticket” will be used per family, this could have the ultimate effect of reducing the number of immigrant visa applicants and visas issued below the standard allotment of 50,000.

To date, the Department of State has not announced the official results of DV-2012 (number of participants, country-by-country breakdown of the selectees) or commented on the skewed results.  In the meanwhile, we encourage those affected to contact the Office of Inspector General at the Department of State to express your concern.  E-mail address: One should of course include identifying information – including name, confirmation number, country of birth, date of birth, date of submission, and contact telephone number.

The cardinal principle underlying the DV-Lottery is that it is supposed to be random.  DV-2012 was not.  We look forward to the reaction of the Department of State.  At the least, we urge it to take steps to ensure that the 50,000 green card allotment is exhausted – as Congress intended.