This May Stuart McBrien was just one of 22,000 US diversity visa applicants who were told, in error, that they were eligible to apply for a green card, and eventually become a US citizen. His hopes of achieving the American Dream dashed McBrien has added his name to another 36 plaintiffs from around the world who plan to sue the State Department for their error.
Speaking to the Irish Voice McBrien, a native of Antrim, said “It was a real kick in the teeth from a country that I have genuine respect and admiration for.
“I just can’t help thinking what would happen if the situation was the other way around - if the Irish government had made a commitment to a bunch of U.S. citizens - I’m sure they would bend over backward to make sure they honored it no matter what.”
McBrien reached out to other Irish people who received the erroneous message and have had their plans to move to the US ruined.
Irishman sues State Department over diversity lottery glitch
Here are their testimonies:
1. Damien – from Dublin, Ireland
I applied for the DV lottery on the October 5th 2010.
On the 1st of May 2011 I was notified that I was amongst the happy few selected for further processing. I could not believe my luck and re-checked my status several times. I was overjoyed that this had happened, and began seeking advice from KCC and past winners on what case numbers meant and how things would progress. 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 courrier, I had even asked for guidance from the KCC 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 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 possibilty of a transfer to the US 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 I have made have suddenly 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 before hand 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 and its always to the forefront of my mind.
What are the odds of being selected again knowing that some people have been playing for years without success.
This new life, new adventure, this fresh start, was there, the dream came true for just as long as a dream lasts...
2. Mavis – from Dublin, Ireland
I decided last summer to apply for the DV2012 lottery. I was in a long distance relationship with an Irish guy who is living in the US. My boyfriend returning home was not an option no matter how much he wanted to. We had looked at different types of visas and the only option that was viable was to enter the lottery so in October 2010 I filled in the forms, uploaded my picture and sent everything off with as much positivity as I could muster.
From that day I researched all I could to do with the lottery, when I was selected I wanted to be prepared. I didn’t want any surprises that would stop me at the last hurdle. I also spent a lot of time researching where I wanted to live, types of accommodation available, what college courses I could do to help further my career in the US, which course\university\school would suit my needs. From January 2011 I put my social life on hold; if I was going to move to the US with no job lined up I was going to need money to support myself and so since then I have saved as if my life depended on it.
May 1st was a Sunday, so the first thing I did was log on and checked the results. I had been selected for further processing. I couldn’t believe it. I was shaking, I logged off and back to recheck just in case I’d made a mistake. Nope, I definitely got selected. I was overjoyed; it had all been worth it. I started telling people, friends, and family, posted on facebook.
I was aware that it didn't mean I had the Greencard but I suddenly had a 50/50 chance of living my dream.
I followed the instructions filled in all the forms, got photos done and had everything sent off to Kentucky by 1:30pm the following afternoon. Now all I had to do was wait another 6 weeks or so for a letter back with an interview time and date in the US Embassy. I had been checking different on line forums about how log it takes what the process is once you "win". From what I had read, my number was 930, I believed I should have an interview by September/October and all going well I could be heading off to start my new life in January 2012.
Then on Sunday May 15th I read on line that the DV2012 Lottery results were void. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I checked the US Embassy website in Dublin, (see error message here). I read it in disbelief, what did it mean, how could they make such a simple but huge mistake.
I worked in IT for nine years, I have seen the testing that goes into new code before it goes live, all the verification and yet they could allow this to happen.....This is not the wrong order of a product that can be returned, this is the hopes, dreams and lives of 22,000 people.
To say I was devastated is an understatement, I was so upset and then for me there was the embarrassment of having to tell everyone that the results were VOID. Obviously it wasn't my fault but still to be so positive, to get chosen and then to be told "Opps sorry we made a mistake, you haven't been chosen, we have to do it again", it was horrible. I avoided talking to people for a while as their first question was "have you got an interview date yet" and then I had to break the news again.
Waiting for July 15th to arrive has made this the longest summer I have ever lived through; nothing distracts me from the thoughts of how close I was the what-ifs. I try to stay positive and believe that I will be selected again, but what are the odds of that happening?
I am aware as are the other 22,000 people that were chosen that it doesn’t mean that we have the Greencard but, we were chosen and we should be given the right to continue the process as promised on the May 1st.
I’m one of those selected. I have dreamt of the US since I was seven-year-old. Twenty-one years I thought I was almost one step closer to my dream, only to have it shattered.
However, I am skeptical of taking any action against the US State Dept. incase it would hinder any applications going forward...I do hope there is a turn around on this and the 22,000 selected are honoured. But until then all I can do is have faith and wish upon a star of fifty stars in this case.
4. Simon – From Dublin, Ireland
I applied for the Diversity Lottery on the first day that it was open in October 2010 (as I do pretty much every year). I am working full time in New York on a working visa after gaining a PhD in Dublin. The day I applied I put a reminder in my calendar for May 1st 2011. I was astounded and delighted to find out that I had been pre-approved. After checking with two immigration lawyer friends to make sure what I was reading was correct, I called my parents and the rest of my family.
My friends here were delighted and a couple even asked me to buy some lottery tickets because they thought I was so lucky. I filled out the documents, double and triple checked them for any potential mistake, called the Kentucky Counsular Center multiple times and finally mailed my application.
A couple of weeks later my world was rocked when a lawyer friend contacted me with the words "I am sorry, I have terrible news for you". To be honest, I was completely devastated. I never thought that the Federal Government could make such a mistake. The lack of any recourse was even more frustrating. The vista of some sort of security and opportunity was given and taken away. People have told me to wait until the July 15th redrawing but I know my chances are so slim. That is why I was so astounded when I first read that I had been pre-approved.
5. David – From Athlone, Ireland
I brought my family to Florida about six years ago to experience the delights of Disney and Universal Studios and also to visit friends who live there, and like our friends, we fell in love with the Florida lifestyle and the Floridian people. It was not long after our first visit that we returned to Florida, and have been returning annually since 2005.
A couple of years ago I purchased a Holiday home in Tampa Florida in the hopes of permanently residing there with my family in the near future. My wife and I made the difficult decision to use our savings to purchase this home in Florida in the hopes that someday my family and I would have the opportunity to emigrate there, work there and create a new life in the U.S which has been a lifelong dream for my wife and I.
Since that visit six years ago I have applied for the Diversity Visa Lottery annually on behalf of myself and my family. Like the previous years I completed the online application and uploaded the pictures.
But this year was unlike previous years, my family and I had finally been selected. After years and years of entering I thought to myself that this was finally our chance to live the American dream. I was ecstatic that we had made it through to the next stage, although I knew this meant we did not automatically receive the green card, I knew it gave me a rather good chance of getting it.
So I immediately filled out the forms and had our pictures taken professionally to ensure they were precise, as I was letting noting hinder this huge opportunity. My family was overjoyed at the news, especially both my teenage children whom like myself dream of noting more than a new life in the U.S.
But I later learned that there had been an ‘error’ with the selection and that the selections have now been confirmed as being invalid.
After celebrating with family and friends I then had to break the news that we were no longer on the path to living our dream and that fresh start we so badly needed and hoped for. Our dreams had now been shattered at the hands of ‘computer error’. I was heartbroken, as were my entire family. We had already altered our lives with regards extra saving and budgeting everyday essentials in order to ensure we had adequate funds to support ourselves until I found employment when out there. This was all for noting. Disappointed, saddened, frustrated, heartbroken and exasperated are only some words I can use to describe how I felt. I also know I am not alone in this, as there are 22,000 other hopefuls who like my family and I have had their dreams crushed.
As stated on May 1st, I was selected for the final stage of the Diversity Visa 2012. Error or no error I believe that I, along with the 22,000 other potential victors should have the opportunity, as stated, to proceed to the interview stages in the hopes of potentially receiving a green card to allow us to begin our new lives, and for our dreams to come true.
6. Ben – From Belfast, Ireland
I’ve been a lot luckier than a lot of people in search of a green card in that I’ve had the chance to work in the US in the past. As a result I’ve made a lot of close friends and built great professional relationships. Unfortunately that doesn’t make it any easier for me to think about emigrating to the USA.
I think it’s really sad that despite the professed ‘special relationship’ between the US and Ireland this doesn’t result in any concrete advantages when it comes to a working visa. Until very recently it was pretty easy for US citizens to live and work here – yet we didn’t receive the same opportunities. Past US presidents are always quick to play up the Irish connection, but unfortunately it seems as if the melting pot no longer accepts Irish citizens who want their piece of the American dream – so much for ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.’
This was the second time I’d applied for the diversity visa lottery, and knowing the odds I wasn’t expecting a positive outcome. When I checked my entry status on May 1st I couldn’t believe it when I saw I had been selected for further processing. Suddenly all my worries about trying to find an employer who could afford to sponsor a visa, keeping in touch with friends solely via Skype and only being part of the US as an outsider seemed to have disappeared. I immediately told everyone I knew, started thinking about the logistics of leaving Ireland behind and moving to the US permanently.
Shock doesn’t quite describe how it felt when the results of the lottery were annulled. In a lot of ways it had felt too good to be true – and this seemed only to reinforce that. All those worries that had disappeared were now back, only worse than before because something I’d wanted for so long had been given to me, and then taken away – far worse than never having it in the first place.
I’m also really concerned about how this situation will impact any future plans to work, study or visit the USA – as I have now technically shown intent to immigrate, which may make obtaining any other visa impossible. So not only am I losing out, now I feel like I’m being penalised. The fact that so many people are afraid to come forward and discuss this, or use their real name gives you an idea of the fear and paranoia surrounding this situation.
These 22,000 winners aren’t planning to go and sponge off the American system – they want to go and contribute to the US economy – the rigorous checks after ‘winning’ the lottery are there to ensure that.
Human error or computer error, 22,000 people have been impacted in a profound emotional way by this. The way this whole debacle was handled has negatively impacted my view of the US and the State Department, and I’m from a first world country. If I’d been one of those whose dreams of a life safe from political or social oppression and extreme poverty were shattered I think those feelings would only be magnified. Toying with people on this scale just cannot be justified.
The drawing made for May 1st was still random, and surely some accommodation could be made to allow the 22,000 chosen to have their places reinstated amongst the 100,000 people selected?
7. Claire – from Dublin, Ireland
- Claire is from Dublin, Ireland, where she went to University
- She works in the performing arts, and her craft has taken her to Philadelphia, USA
- Claire has been working in the performing arts in the U.S. under an ‘O’ type visa, but this is soon to expire
- Claire was elated at winning the green card lottery, allowing her to stay in the U.S. and continue performing
- Having the offer taken away was devastating, and prevents a real possibility that she will not be able to follow her performing arts career in the U.S. as planned
Note – some identities have been disguised by using fictional first names. All stories are real.