As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) sponsored a bill that will mandate a new $30 fee to enter the annual Green Card Lottery. We wonder about the motivation of the U.S. State Department to charge applicants since visa and related fees for winners cover the cost of the lottery, by law.
Officially known as the “Diversity Visa Lottery”, this program awards permanent residence to 50,000 winners who apply in a random computer drawing held each October. Previously, registration was free, unless applicants used a fee-based lottery service or immigration attorney. In last year’s 2011 lottery (“DV-2013”), registration was down from a 2010 peak of nearly 15 million entrants to only 8 million because Bangladesh was disqualified.
Eligible applicants can register for the lottery during a 30-day open registration period that runs from early October to early November, although the exact days change slightly each year. In fact, until 2010, the lottery registration period was 60 days.
If passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, this new fee could raise 240 million dollars for the U.S. Treasury for DV-2014 if the same number of people apply this coming year.
This proposed fee will make the application process more cumbersome, likely reduce the number of entrants (perhaps by a significant number) and potentially drive a larger percentage of people to use green card lottery services since they have significantly more experience than the U.S. government in handling international monetary transactions.
The main advantage of using paid lottery service is that applicants can apply any time of year, not just October. Good lottery services accept paper photographs, check applications for errors, and some even pay airfare to the USA for winners. And many applicants like the convenience of letting someone else notify them if they win.
A future article will attempt to answer several outstanding questions: What is the State Department’s proposed payment mechanism (i.e. PayPal, personal check, Western Union). What is the additional cost per dependent, if applicable? What is the solution for applicants from third-world countries like Nigeria without established online payment processes?
What do you think of this proposed $30 registration fee?