The U.S. State Department is reportedly investigating just how more than 20,000 people were wrongly told that that they had been selected as finalists in the 2012 Diversity Visa lottery.
Officials said that a computer glitch caused 90 percent of those selected as finalists to have been drawn from only applications received on the first two days of the month-long entry process.
In a statement posted on the official diversity visa website, the State Department said that "due to a computer programming problem," the results of the 2012 Diversity Lottery that were previously posted had been voided.
"They were not valid and were posted in error. The results were not valid because they did not represent a fair, random selection of entrants, as required by U.S. law."
The diversity visa program is virtually the only way that Irish, from both sides of the border, can apply for a green card and stand a chance of obtaining one without having to meet potentially disqualifying conditions such as already having close relatives in the U.S.
However, because the program is open to a large worldwide pool of applicants, the numbers obtained by Irish applicants each year tends to be very low, usually around a couple of hundred or so of a total available number of 50,000 visas.
Irish applicants with questions were being advised to contact their nearest Irish immigration center. The official diversity visa website is at www.dvlottery.state.gov.