The Trump Administration would like to institute a “points-based” or “merit-based” immigration system, cut down on family-based immigration and eliminate the Diversity Lottery.  To date, Congress has not passed any such changes to immigration laws and the Diversity Lottery remains in effect.  This year, 55,000 visas will be available.  Diversity visas are available to people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

While the Diversity Lottery represents only a small portion of the visas available each year and the odds of success in obtaining visas are low, it is a popular program and receives a lot of attention.  Individuals from approximately 200 countries take a chance and enter the Diversity Lottery each year.  In FY 2018, the countries with the highest number of applications were Uzbekistan (2,114,446), Ukraine (1,450,487), Nepal (1,187,350) and Sierra Leone (1,011,725).  These numbers represent approximately 3% to 6% of the populations of those countries.  Only a small fraction of the applicants are selected.  In FY 2018, Uzbekistan “won” 4,494, Ukraine 4,478, Nepal 4,097 and Sierra Leone 1,790.

Changes in this year’s Diversity Lottery requirements have led to some unintended consequences.  A passport number is now required for entry into the Diversity Lottery.  Following the announcement, Nepal has experienced a rush on passport applications.  According to the Nepalese Department of Passports (DOP), on an average day the DOP would receive 500 passport applications.  But since the Diversity Lottery opened on October 2, 2019, DOP has been receiving approximately 2,800 applications per day primarily from applicants aged 18 to 45.  In the ordinary course, it takes about 15 days to acquire a passport in Nepal.  To meet the demand and try to ensure that all applicants receive their passports in time to register for the Diversity Lottery before it closes on November 5, 2019, DOP is shifting staff, adding more security personnel and increasing working hours.  These changes will remain in force until the number of passport applicants reverts to “normal.”



Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.