Each year, as part of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, the federal government makes about 50,000 visas available to people who come from certain countries with a low number of immigrants to the United States.
However, on Friday it was announced that the U.S. State Department made a mistake and accidentally told more than 22,000 people that they had won a visa in the faulty lottery. The mistake, which was caused by a computer error, means that the drawing will have to be redone and thousands of happy people will be back at square one.
Although, it does mean that everyone else in the pool of 19.6 million people hoping for a "green card" lottery visa will be given a second chance, slim as it may be.
"We sincerely regret any inconvenience or disappointment this problem might have caused," the State Department official in charge of the program said to reporters.
Apparently, the error was the result of a computer programming glitch, which caused 90 percent of the lottery winners to be selected from the initial two days people were allowed to register for the program, rather than the entire 30-day window.
Now the program official said that the error has been fixed and a new drawing will be done, with winners to be announced around July 15.
Usually with immigrant visas or "green cards," the applicants must have a family member or employer sponsor them. However, this is not necessary for the 50,000 lottery visas, which is why they are such a coveted item.
Source: Reuters, "U.S. makes mistake on visa lottery, must redraw," 5/16/2011.