More Irish emerging in diversity visa snafu

A growing number of Irish applicants who applied for diversity visas only to have their hopes dashed by a State Department computer glitch are stepping forward to testify as part of a class action lawsuit being pursued by a California-based law firm.

Applicants who thought they had secured one of the hard to get visas have been expressing their frustrations on the internet, one of them being a man named Damien from Dublin who stated that he had applied for the DV lottery in October of last year and had been informed on May 1 that he had secured a visa.

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50,000 visas are distributed to a worldwide pool annually, one that can number in the millions so any Irish applicant who gets a visa has to be considered lucky in the extreme.

In 2010, for example, applicant from Ireland, both the republic and the North, secured a total 198 diversity visas out of the 50,000.

"I could not believe my luck and re-checked my status several times," said Damien in his posted statement.

"I was overjoyed that this had happened. I couldn't sleep properly as my mind was racing all during the day and at night playing out a thousand different scenarios. What could be? Where to go? What this would mean for my next generation.

"I printed out my documents and filled them in and rechecked several times to make sure it was clear and readable and that there will be no reason to reject my form.

"I sent all the paperwork within the week by courier, I had even asked for guidance from the KCC (visa processing center) as of what the best steps to take were and they advised me to send my paperwork immediately and at no point was the issue raised about the IT glitch or that the DV Lottery might be cancelled.

"At this stage, continued Damien, "all I had to do was to wait for the interview notification and I believe my chances of getting the green card were really good. I had arranged for my employer to look into the possibility of a transfer to the U.S. branch.

"I was doing a brief research on the 13th May to see if any of the winners were sharing there experience online when I saw the announcement stating the lottery results were void.

"I was absolutely gutted as my dreams and plans that (had been)been blown away. As I read my heart sank, like no other feeling I have had before. This was my dream smashed to pieces. If there was outside interference I would have accepted it, but I cannot accept it as the Department Of State have admitted it was their mistake.

"How long beforehand did they run the lottery and review the results, I couldn't get my head around it. I have not been able to sleep since. This new life, new adventure, this fresh start, was there, the dream came true for just as long as a dream lasts," he concluded.

The class action was filed against the U.S. Department of State after more than 20,000 diversity visa applicants worldwide, including an as yet unknown number in Ireland, received letters notifying them that they had successfully secured a visa only to be subsequently told that it was a mistake. The State Department blamed the snafu on a computer glitch.

However, the apology and correction has not mollified applicants and a California based law firm is going to court with the support of frustrated applicants. In a statement, the law firm, White & Associates, which is acting pro bono in the case, said the legal action was based on the principle that "our word is our bond."

"In this case our Government has let these individuals down. They have broken a public and written commitment to 22,000 friends of America," attorney Kenneth White said in a statement.

"Real people have had their dreams unfairly shattered, and as a result, the public image of the U.S. as a fair and honorable country has been damaged around the world," said White, whose firm is based in Los Angeles.