Sep 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

A story of winning, then almost losing the immigration lottery

Illustrated collage of a scratch off card covered in travel stamps surrounded by stars. Scratch off reads, "USA Lottery".
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last year Fatma became one of the lucky few selected out of millions who apply for the diversity visa lottery — a program intended to bring in immigrants from underrepresented countries.

What's happening: Now, the 29-year-old Albanian with a master's degree, and experience in hospital administration, is one of thousands fighting a pandemic and the Trump administration for her chance to move her family to the U.S.

  • Fatma had applied for a shot at a green card through the diversity visa lottery for over a decade before being selected.
  • Coronavirus canceled her visa interview scheduled for May of this year. Then Trump's immigration bans threatened to keep her from receiving the visa at all.

"If you think of winning the lottery and then the next day somebody tells you that no, you can't go to collect," that is what it was like, her attorney told Axios.

What to watch: Last week a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to resume issuing diversity visas before the Sept. 30 deadline.

  • Fatma's attorney said she has an interview next week. But even if she gets the visa, as long as Trump's proclamation is in effect, the State Department won't let her in.
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