Visa lottery applications swamp State's servers

Green card aspirants seeking to register for the State Department's visa lottery swamped the agency's servers on Monday and Tuesday, when a last-minute traffic surge employed the system's full capacity.

This is the first year that State has required visa lottery entrants to apply online. The department provided a two-month application window that began Nov. 1 and ended last night, spokeswoman Kelly Shannon said. In previous years, State provided a one-month window for receiving lottery entries by postal mail.

'Until Monday we had never used the full server capacity,' Shannon said.

State received about 500,000 lottery entries on Monday and Tuesday out of a total of almost 6 million, Shannon said. 'The servers never went down,' she added. State had received 5,425,000 online entries as of Dec. 28.

The department will use photorecognition technology to match the photographs on the online lottery entries and eliminate duplicate entries. The department formerly digitized the hard-copy photographs it received to eliminate duplicate entries by photorecognition.

'Last year we received 7.3 million qualified entries and an unknown number of duplicates,' Shannon said. The department eliminated 2.9 million entries that year because they arrived after the deadline or because the visa aspirants had not followed directions. The online application process eliminates late entries and prevents entrants from making errors, she said.

The department issues 50,000 visas to the people in the pool of qualified entries, after selecting about 90,000 to 100,000 entries in the lottery process.

The nations most represented in the lottery are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nepal and Nigeria.

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