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Egypt: US visa lottery winners frustrated by Trump's ban extension


US President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend the 2020 US Diversity Visa Lottery could have dramatic consequences on thousands of winners.

On the shores of the Mediterranean in Alexandria, many Egyptian winners feel cheated.

This is the case of this teacher. Islam Elrweny had to abandon his post in Saudi Arabia.

“I had to risk my job and I also had to pay the residency permit fees myself as I was not leaving on my regular vacation, which is around 3,200 US dollars I had to pay a big part of it. I sold my furniture as soon as I could for a very low price as I was in a hurry and I hadn’t even the chance to sell my car, so I left it there and I got back here. After I finished my medical test, I was shocked by the proclamation of president Trump as visas were stopped for two months and then that was extended until December 31st, which meant that we are not going to get our visas”, he said.

According to US lottery specialists, only 13 thousand visas out of 55 thousand planned for 2020 have been issued. Consular operations stopped in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The US State Department said no exceptions are being made for the winners who have not claimed their visas yet.

The lottery requires the visas be obtained by September 30 or they will be voided.

The Trump administration cast the halt as part of its efforts to free up jobs in an economy reeling from the pandemic.

Long before the pandemic, Trump criticised the lottery, falsely claiming it has been “a horror show” because countries put in “some very bad people.”

Foreign governments do not choose who applies or ultimately wins. Citizens of qualifying countries are the ones who decide to bid for the visas.

Dozens of the 2020 winners reached out to The Associated Press in response to a request to tell their stories. Many of the winners are highly educated. But they said they are hindered by the lack of opportunities in their homelands.

Among those selected this year, were an infectious disease doctor, an agricultural engineer, a software developer, a post-doctorate researcher, a businesswoman and a middle school teacher.

US immigration lawyers are considering suing the administration over the matter.


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