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Diversity Immigration Visa Lottery Assistance Program

Brooklyn Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Elizabeth Lewis, Director, Literacy Program & Volunteer Resources, elizabeth.lewis@brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Problem Statement

Every year thousands of Brooklyn residents seek special visa documented status to continue to work and live in the United States. The U.S. Department of State’s Annual Diversity Immigration Visa Lottery is one way residents can seek that status. However, many individuals do not have the technology or language skills needed to successfully complete the free online application. This lack of skills or knowledge often puts individuals and families in a vulnerable position where they can be charged hundreds of dollars for application assistance by private entrepreneurs. Brooklyn Public Library dedicates staff time and resources to provide free assistance for all those interested in applying for the visa.

Innovation

Since 2005 the Learning Centers have partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to assist with the filing process for the electronic Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Brooklyn Public Library Literacy Program’s Learning Centers have hosted BPL’s annual participation in the Diversity Immigration Visa Lottery by offering a Diversity Lottery Assistance Program. Staff
volunteers at the Learning Centers assist new immigrants in completing the online application for entry in the Electronic Diversity Immigration Visa lottery. Services include assistance with access and imputing data into the online forms, scanning of photos for upload to the lottery application, and even taking of photos using the digital cameras available in the Learning Center computer
rooms. In addition, Learning Center staff and staff volunteers offer their multilingual skills for translation services. The Learning Centers accomplish this project with the cooperation of the Information Technology Department, Government Affairs, Marketing & Communications and staff & volunteers from throughout the library system.

Progress

Every year more and more people come to the BPL Learning Centers for this service that lasts for approximately two months in the fall. In fall 2009, more than 1800 people accessed this service through the Learning Centers, a fifty percent increase from the previous year. Although applicants remain anonymous within the Library, every year the Learning Centers see a couple of people returning with the wonderful news that they indeed won the Lottery and are on their way to receiving the Diversity Immigration Visa.