What are those three little words that have the power to give people hope, dreams and possibly a better future? Yes, you guessed it! It is the Diversity Visa Lottery. Every year there comes a time when one must simply find the time in their busy schedule to go fill out this potentially life altering piece of paper, one that might be your ticket to a US green card.
The Diversity Visa Lottery or as we lovingly call it, “DV” is a congressionally mandated United States lottery program for a United States Permanent Resident Card. The lottery is administered on an annual basis to a list of eligible developing countries. The program makes available permanent residence visas to 55,000 people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States every year; and lucky for us, our great nation is on the list.
The DV Lottery started in 1995 with the aim of diversifying the US population. Since its start, over 3000 Ethiopians have been migrating to the land of opportunity every year. America, to most, represents the good life (McDonalds and Hollywood). For some reason, there is a presumption that once you get the chance to live there, then everything that was wrong with your life will automatically be okay. Doctors, teachers, engineers and lawyers go to the US and become domestic workers, cab drivers, babysitters, waiters and waitresses. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those jobs, but it seems as though one’s education to become a doctor or a teacher doesn’t matter as long as one can become a US citizen.
Many of us have somebody in America, a sister, a brother, a close relative or a friend. I’m sure that those people have communicated that life is not exactly all milk and honey in the US. “It is difficult; there is nothing like your own country,” they say. I will tell you right now that those people will never change places with those of us who live in Ethiopia; they will never say “oh, forget America, I would rather go back to my country and live there forever.” And why should they? It would be a lie to say that life wouldn’t be somewhat better in America if a person has the determination to attain a better life. There is no doubt that there are many more opportunities there no matter how fierce the competition.
Now, I am not saying that we should all abandon this beautiful historic nation of ours. Ethiopia is growing; we are reminded of that fact all the time through our ever informative ETV. There are a lot of nice big buildings coming up everywhere; our fair city was recently named among the 10 best cities to visit in 2013 by Lonely Planet; but despite all the “progress” in the country, most of us would become Americans in less than a second if we got the chance. Sad but true. It is natural for human beings to go where the grass seems greener, hence “green card and green dollar bills.”
Of all the perks that come with being an American, the one that is most alluring to me personally is, that once a person holds an American passport, they basically become a global citizen; they can travel to almost any country whenever they want, because nobody says no to an American. On the other hand, when you hold an Ethiopian passport and try to go to Europe, it’s not so easy; the interrogation you go through makes it seem like you are going to steal their country from them. So, for those of us who would like to explore the world a little, American is the way to go.
A picture that has been circulating on Facebook shows a small shop with internet service and a big posted sign saying, (roughly translated), “We have stopped filling out DV forms because our country is growing.” Nothing would be better than seeing this statement in actuality and that the meaning holds true to everyone. But I believe that most of you reading this right now won’t live to see that happen. And until that day comes, people will continue to apply for the green card lottery every year and wait for their chance.
DV 2014 recently ended. I wish all applicants the best of luck, and to the 2013 lottery winners, good luck to you as well. I hope it is as you imagined it.