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World: U.S. Notifies Visa Lottery Winners

Washington, 18 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - The United States has notified 100,000 people around the world that they have won a visa lottery and can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa.

The U.S. State Department says, however, that only about half that number will be successful in obtaining a visa. It says it picks more winners than the number of available visas, because it expects that many people will fail to meet entry requirements or will change their minds.

The State Department is urging winners to apply quickly and follow the instructions in the notification letter.

Winners were chosen at random by computer from some 6.5 million qualified entries received during a one-month application period in February and March.

The highest number of applicants from former communist countries came from Albania (6,764), followed by Poland (5,003) and Romania (3,669). Russia and Ukraine were next with more than 3,000 applicants each.

The State Department says a maximum of 3,850 visas can be awarded to persons born in any single country.

The United States holds the visa lottery annually to give an opportunity to people in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.