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The United States Government has released an updated list of countries ineligible for participation in its 2015 Diversity Visa programme. Nigeria has, for the first time since inception of the programme in 1995, joined the list of ineligible countries. Nigeria is the only addition to the updated list of ineligible countries. A statement released by the United States Department of State noted that over 50,000 Nigerians had emigrated to the United States in the past five years, which is the maximum number of immigrants allowed under the programme for the period before a country becomes ineligible. The department listed the following 19 countries as ineligible for DV-2015: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. The first DV programme was in 1995, and 15 countries such as Canada, China (mainland), Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam, were ineligible from its commencement. Can Nigeria become eligible in future? The ineligibility of Nigeria does not imply it can no longer participate in the DV programme. A country can become eligible after a 4-5 year period has elapsed if the number of its citizens that have emigrated to the US is considered low. Poland was ineligible for DV-1998, but regained eligibility for DV-2002. Poland again lost eligibility in DV-2007, but regained status for DV-2013. Another country that lost and regained eligibility status is Russia (ineligible for DV-2005, eligible for DV-2010). Though Nigeria is the only African country that has become ineligible for the 2015 Diversity programme based on the recently released statistics, some African countries would continue to enjoy the programme. The African countries that would continue to benefit from the programme are: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia and Ghana. Others are Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles and Sierra Leone. The US Immigration Act of 1990 established the Diversity Visa  (DV) lottery programme that commenced in 1995. The goal of the progamme is to diversify the immigrant population of the United States by granting countries that had low immigration rate to the US in the previous five years eligibility status to participate in the programme. Registration for the DV programme is widely advertised by private agents (not affiliated to the US government) in Nigeria  who charge between N500 and N1,500 to apply for the registration on behalf of the applicants. The US Department of State, however, has stated overtime that it does not collect any fee for registration. Some agents in Nigeria have already put up signboards advertising opening for the 2015 US DV lottery even though it is impossible to register as a Nigerian for the programme. Applications for countries eligible for DV-2015 is expected to commence on October 1, 2013. About 14,769, 658 applicants were reported to have qualified globally for the 2012 programme among the 19, 672, 269 that applied.

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This article was first published on 16th September 2013

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