State Dept Considering 5,662 'Diversity Visa' Applicants from Terror States

By Elizabeth Harrington | October 11, 2011 | 7:24 PM EDT

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, speaks during a press conference on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

( --  As part of its 2012 Diversity Visa program, the U.S. State Department is considering 5,662 applicants from countries deemed ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ – Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba.

In 2011, the State Department awarded 2,427 Diversity Visas to people from Iran, Syria and Sudan -- 1,842 for Iran; 553 for Sudan; and 32 for Syria.

The annual program randomly awards 50,000 permanent resident visas to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, which include the State Sponsors of Terrorism. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) congressionally mandates the Diversity Visa program, which began in 1994.

According to the State Department, 100,021 applicants in total, who were randomly selected, "have been registered and notified and may now make an application for an immigrant visa."

For 2012, the State Department, along with registrations from people in other countries, selected 4,453 applicants from Iran; 292 from Cuba; 757 from Sudan; and 160 from Syria. (Total: 5,662.)

The U.S. State Department defines state sponsors of terrorism as follows: “Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.”

The State Department calls the Diversity Visa program’s conditions “simple, but strict.”  The requirements for the winners are “a high school education or its equivalent or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years' training or experience,” according to the Department.

While 100,021 total applicants have been registered and notified, only 50,000 visas will be issued. The applicants, including those from the State Sponsors of Terrorism, are advised "to act on their immigrant visa applications quickly."

The State Department says: "Once the total 50,000 visa numbers have been used, the program for fiscal year 2012 will end. Selected applicants who do not receive visas by September 30, 2012 will derive no further benefit from their DV-2012 registration."