Coming to America? State Department's Big Glitch

May 13, 2011

NPR Staff and Wires

More than 22,000 would-be immigrants thought they won a visa lottery to come to the U.S. Not so fast.

The State Department said Friday that it is scratching the results because of a computer glitch. Department officials expressed regret for the mistake which is sure to disappoint thousands of people who were notified this year that they had won a chance to come and live legally in the United States.

Nearly 15 million people entered the annual worldwide visa lottery, and when the numbers were drawn, it turned about that 90 percent of the winners had submitted their applications on the first two days of a 30 day registration period.

Officials blamed it on a programming error. They said the problem has been fixed and that the lottery, which gives tens of thousands of people a chance for immigrant visas without the need for sponsors, will be re-drawn.

The winners of the new lottery are expected to be announced July 15.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reported from Washington, D.C., for this story, which contains material from The Associated Press. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.