Culture and Lifestyle

Visa Lottery: America’s Cast-Iron Immigration Policies Towards Africa

The statement said, “The US Mission to Nigeria is aware of websites and messages advertising the U.S. visa lottery. All of these sites are FAKE! The only accurate information on the visa lottery is available at ng.usembassy.gov and travel.state.gov. Addresses with .gov are the only accurate source of visa information.’’.

The Immigration Act of 1990 established the Diversity Visa programme, where 55,000 immigrant visas would be made available in an annual lottery. The programme started in 1995 and the aim was to diversify the immigrant population in the United States.

Some of the fake messages circulating online, especially on WhatsApp groups, announces an online registration for the migrant lottery and urged Nigerians to take a chance of living in the US by applying for the US Green Card lottery.

The message read, “The Green Card unlocks the door to the United States for thousands of USA fans every year. It allows the lucky Green Card winners permanent residence as well as unlimited work permits for the USA. Every year, the United States grants 55,000 Green Cards through the Green Card Lottery.’’

Unfortunately, the Diversity Visa program has always been abused by scammers and the purpose is to defraud unsuspecting but hopeful immigrants.

Earlier, the US consulate in Nigeria stressed on its website that Nigerians were no longer eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery.

It stated, “Only people that were born outside of Nigeria or have parents that were born outside of Nigeria are eligible for the Diversity Visa. If you were born in Nigeria or to Nigerian-born parents, you are not eligible for the visa lottery. Some fake websites and emails attempt to mislead customers, posing as providers of official U.S. government information.’’

Nigeria was omitted from the Green Card Lottery at a time when former President Trump targeted the country for visa restrictions.


On one hand, security concerns were used as an excuse for a more wide-ranging ban on “black immigration” from countries such as Nigeria. Trump had at the time referred to African nations as “shithole Countries”

 Pundits argued that it would have happened all the same since Nigeria already had over 50,000 citizens that have been issued green cards over the last five years. “If a country exceeds this number then you are excluded from the Green Card Lottery,” the US foreign Office has said.

Following series of U.S. visa sanctions imposed on Nigeria last September, it’s been confirmed that the many African nations has been excluded from the USA’s 2022 diversity visa lottery.

A 19-page document titled ‘Instructions for the 2022 diversity immigrant visa program (DV-2022)’, confirmed Nigeria’s exclusion from the programme.


The document said: “In Africa, natives of Nigeria are not eligible for this year’s diversity visa program.”

This news is another bitter pill for Nigerians to swallow because it has been hit in the past by B1 and B2 visit visas and E1 and E2 visa sanctions.

In 2017, hundreds of Africans – including Nigerians – applying for US B1 and B2 visas to attend the annual African Global and Economic Development Summit held in California, had their applications rejected.

In 2018, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had met with Trump to discuss the possibility of expanding visa validity for Nigerians entering America from two to 10 years.

Nigeria was also added to Trump’s controversial travel ban list last February.
In the summer of 2019, Workpermit.com reported that Nigeria faced US E1 and E2 visa sanctions because of attempts made by some Nigerians to undermine the country’s general election in February.
The latest round of sanctions adds to a long list of restrictions imposed on Nigerians during Trump’s tenure as President.

In 2019, the US State Department warned Nigeria that there would be further action, including more visa restrictions, on those found to be responsible for orchestrating election-related violence or undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.

Last year, Ortagus said: “The decision to impose US visa restrictions on certain Nigerians reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”


Another round of sanctions, even under Joe Biden, could see Nigerians hit with even tighter restrictions and greater scrutiny on US B1 business visit visas, B2 holiday visit visas, L1 intra-company transfer visas, H1B specialty occupation visas, E2 Treaty Investor visas, E1 Treaty Trader visas, and other types of US visa.

Read Also: Nigerians Barred from the 2022 US Visa Lottery

By and large, Nigeria became a target of Trump visa restrictions mainly because Nigerians have a high US visa overstay rate.

Under the Trump administration, thousands of Nigerians have reported that access to US visas became harder than ever. Many claims that their US visa applications were often rejected, which dissuades them from applying again, at least until Trump is no longer President.

The latest visa restrictions on Nigerians come as a huge blow, given that back in February, then US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said he was ‘optimistic’ that the US could lift existing restrictions imposed on the African nation.


Each year, the Diversity Visa program allows 50,000 randomly selected people—only from countries that don’t send many immigrants to the United States—to obtain permanent residency (commonly called a “green card”). It’s a way for individuals and families who otherwise wouldn’t have any way to legally immigrate to the United States to get a green card.

The winners are selected at random by a computer, and they and their immediate families receive green cards.

Congress established the Diversity Visa program to increase the number of immigrants from smaller countries and countries that don’t send many immigrants to the United States.


The diversity visa (DV) lottery ban comes just 12 months after data published by the US Census Bureau showed that Nigeria was among the top African nations to receive US visas.


A host of other countries were also omitted from the 2022 DV program, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR)Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, Vietnam Among the countries that did qualify were Macau SAR and Taiwan.


If your native country is not eligible, there are still two ways you could qualify for the Diversity Visa:

If your spouse was born in an eligible country, you can apply with your spouse and choose your spouse’s country of birth on your application.

If neither of your parents were legal residents in your own country of birth, you can choose your mother or father’s country of birth.


The second major requirement for Diversity Visa applicants is through education, that you must have at least a high school degree, or at least two years of work experience within the past five years in a profession that requires at least two years of training, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labour.


If you’re married to a U.S. citizen, you could still apply for the Diversity Visa lottery. However, there’s little advantage here, since you will almost always be able to go to the United States sooner by applying for a marriage-based green card instead.If you have another family member who could sponsor your green card, it might still be worthwhile to apply for the Diversity Visa lottery. 


Mr. Orakwue Arinze, Director (Intelligence) Public Enlightenment of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons, while briefing journalists at the one-day international conference on illegal migration and trafficking in persons conference, organised by Nigerian Young Professional Forum, in Abuja on 11 June 2019called on Nigerians to stop investing in visa lotteries, saying they are all fronted by fraudsters.