Computer ‘error’ voids all US green card lottery results

green-cardThe US State Department apologized today for a computer glitch that has resulted in the invalidation of all 2012 green card visa lottery results — a massive blunder that affects tens of thousands of people. The names of this year’s Diversity Lottery winners were already posted to the State Department website. But now all of those results are now void due to the “computer programming problem.”

“We regret to inform you that, due to a computer programming problem, the results of the 2012 Diversity Lottery that were previously posted on this website have been voided,” said the State Department in a statement posted to its website. “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.”

About 12 million to 15 million people from around the world apply for a green card last year. Of those, approximately 50,000 to 55,000 people receive green card visas. Any immigrant who receives a green card may live and work legally in the US or one of its territories. Roughly 22,000 people who thought they had received a green card now have not.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services David Donahue explains in a video statement about the slip-up, “a computer programming error caused more than 90 percent of the selectees to come from the first two days of the registration period.”

Donahue does not go into details about what kind of computer error could cause such a problem. He does say, however, that the problem has now been fixed.

The State Department will redo the lottery drawing later this year with the help of a new random selection algorithm. Anyone waiting to receive word about their green card status will have to hold out until July 15, when the new results will be posted online, to see if they have won the right to work in the US.

“We sincerely regret any inconvenience or disappointment this problem might have caused,” said Donahue.

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