Imagine winning a lottery for a life-changing amount of money. You have to collect the money within one year. The only issue is that the organization that will remit the funds either is not open or is open but is refusing to see you. This is the current situation of several diversity visa winners from African countries.
I recently sent out an ask for visa lottery stories from winners in Africa. I received more than 300 stories. Here are the stories of two individuals in their own words. I am hiding the identity and location of the writers for their protection.
East African Survivor
“I am 32 years old. I was born and raised in an East African country. My father, who died in 2020 from gastric cancer, and my mother, who is 71, were smallholder farmers. I am the last child, and the only one in my family of nine children to attend college and get my master’s degree. The dream to live in America started when I finished high school. I was facing financial difficulties to attend university, but in 2010 I met a lovely Mum on Facebook who lives in Florida. She helped me complete university. Her unconditional love created in me the love of America. I started dreaming of a country of good people.
Since I had no other possible options to make it in US, had no family member to help me, and had no financial capacity to afford the scholarship application, I searched and found out about the Green Card program. This was my only affordable option to make it. From 2011 I started applying for the DV lottery. It was in FY 2021 that I was selected. I was 100% sure that my dreams were coming true. Unfortunately, with only 100 days remaining, my DS260 has been processed, my documents approved, BUT no interview appointment and Travel state claiming COVID 19.
I never sleep. I have suspended my future. I do not know if I will make it or not. My only question to @POTUS: Is America still welcoming diversity?“
West African Two Time Winner
“I am a DV lottery winner. I have not received an interview appointment yet. I am really depressed because this is my second time of winning DV lottery, and it could possibly be my last time. I am really frustrated sometimes. I don’t know if how I feel is right. I feel like it would have been better if I did not win it, because this is really causing me great pain. I can’t even sleep. Did they give us this opportunity just to punish us? I have been waiting for a year now for my case to be current and now that it’s current the embassy in my country is not accepting DV interview appointments. This thing is really killing me slowly. In 2011 I won the DV lottery but my parents were sick. I lost my dad, there was nobody there to help me, and I was just child. I could clearly remember the pain I went through knowing that I have the chance to travel to USA and make my dreams come true but there was nobody there to help me, and now that I can help myself a bit, look at what is happening now. I want to forget everything, the loss of my parents, I mean everything.“
- Note: These stories were lightly edited for clarity.
The dream and hopes of these individuals could be saved by the Biden Administration by creating solution with the State Department to ensure these visas are processed before the deadline which could include virtual interviews.