Category: Archive

One man’s visa lifeline comes under fire

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

So much in fact that he has penned a state-by-state guide to the United States.
The Dublin native, however, has only ever managed a few tantalizing glimpses of the 50.
Kavanagh wants to see and learn more, lots more. He wants to be far more than just a tourist.
He wants to make his future in a city like New York, Boston or perhaps San Francisco.
And with that in mind he has faithfully, and doggedly, applied for a diversity visa each and every year for the last decade.
He hasn’t had any luck but said he is determined to stick at it until he either loses hope completely, or comes up trumps with what is popularly known as a “Schumer Visa.”
“I’ve been trying to get to America for the last 10 years and this is the only way I know how. I love America and believe in America,” Kavanagh said in a phone interview this week.
Kavanagh’s hopes that this might be his lucky year were recently dashed, however.
He was not one of the 205 successful applicants from the Republic in the 2005 lottery draw
And he will not be among the 145 winning applicants from the Republic in the 2006 batch — which was open to applicants from Northern Ireland on a separate basis.
“If I got one I would have heard by the end of July,” said Kavanagh.
“So it’s curtains this time around as well,” he added.
Kavanagh, whose book is entitled “Fascinating Flags & Facts of the Fabulous Fifty States,” said he will apply later this year for the 2007 lottery.
But if some members of Congress have their say, there will be no diversity program by the time that year rolls around.
Bad news for John Kavanagh, and all the others who see the diversity visa scheme as a last chance ticket to their American dream.
As it currently stands, the diversity visa lottery, in the words of the U.S. State Department “makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.”
Fifty thousand looks like a significant number, but it pales when compared to the total number of annual applicants from eligible countries.
That, unfortunately for Kavanagh and other Irish hopefuls, is most of the nations on the planet.
For the 2005 program, for example, Kavanagh’s application, assuming it was deemed part of the valid pile, was one in 5.9 million qualified entries.
It’s easy to see why the Dubliner’s yearly effort has a whiff of the needle in a haystack about it.
Indeed, the last time that the number of successful applicants from the entire island of Ireland exceeded 500 was way back in 1999 when the total reached a relatively impressive 637.
But mere long odds have not deterred John Kavanagh yet.
What might stymie him completely, however, is a provision in one of two primary immigration reform proposals that will be taken up by Congress when it returns from summer recess.
GOP senators John Cornyn and Jon Kyl are together pressing a bill called the Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005.
Among other proposals, the Cornyn/Kyl bill envisages the scrapping of the Schumer scheme.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, co-author along with Sen. John McCain of a rival bill, has pledged to “resist any attempt” to get rid of the diversity visas, initially crafted by New York’s Sen. Charles Schumer in 1994 when he was still a member of the House of Representatives.
“There is a very substantial and legitimate reason for the diversity visas, especially at this time,” Kennedy said.
John Kavanagh — who was born in 1963 and named after President Kennedy who visited Ireland in June of that fateful year — would for certain agree with words such as substantial and legitimate.
Kavanagh, who said that he would be ready and willing to serve in the National Guard the moment he sets foot on American soil, said that despite all the years of failing to secure a diversity visa he has never been tempted to simply visit America, overstay his visa waiver time limit and live an undocumented life.
“I want to do it legally and above board,” he told the Echo.
Kavanagh’s bid for an American life has lately taken on a sharper edge. His job at a Dublin-based garment company is being wound up due to downsizing.
But he has more than enough work experience for a diversity visa that does not require an advance offer of a job in the U.S. in order for an application to be successful.
Kavanagh’s educational credentials are also a match for the State Department’s requirements.
And there is the matter of his book, a homage to a country he has yet to see with his own eyes.
“I still believe there is hope, though it is becoming harder to believe that I will ever successfully secure a diversity visa,” said Kavanagh.
“But nobody believes in America more than myself,” he added firmly.

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