From: Alice Taylor
Almost 10% of Albanians Apply for US Green Card Lottery

More than 240,000 Albanians have applied for the US Green Card lottery in 2021, a decrease from 2020 and 2019, but still one of the highest numbers in Europe.

According to statistics from the US State Department, 240,886 have applied this year so far, down from 345,510 in 2020 and 330,965 in 2019. It ranked as third highest out of the entire European continent for the number of applications, second only to Ukraine with 426,209, and Russia with 533,169. 

When you consider that both Ukraine and Russia have much bigger populations, Albania in fact ranks as number one.

With a population of just 2.8 million, almost 10% of the population applied for the lottery this year.

The official name of the Green Card Lottery is the Diversity Visa Program. Each year, the US Government allows 50,000 randomly selected people to obtain permanent residency, otherwise known as a Green Card. Typically, these people come from countries where citizens would find it harder to obtain a visa, or that do not send many immigrants there.

The chance of success is around 1%.

Winning the lottery, does not guarantee a visa and there are still complex processes to go through. Many winners from 2020 still have not had a visa due to consulates and embassies being closed because of COVID-19.

Ex-President Donald Trump also tried to stamp out the program, making less resources available to stop people coming from “shithole countries.” Since January, little has changed and delays are still in place despite the Biden administration being in power.

It comes as no surprise that 10% of the population wants to leave. Albania also has a problem with asylum seekers and irregular migration.

Between 2010 and 2019, more than 193,000 people applied for asylum in EU countries. 

In 2020, Albania had more first-time asylum applications to EU countries than Serbia, North Macedonia, and Kosovo combined. Figures for Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina were just a fraction of Albania’s total. 

A survey published in June 2020 by the Regional Cooperation Council found that almost half of Albanians actively plan to leave the country. This means they are looking for jobs, applying for visas, or preparing to leave. Over 60% have a desire to leave, according to 2019 figures published by Gallup.

Main contributors to Albania’s ‘brain drain’ are underemployment, wages, corruption, the education system, opportunities, and the rule of law. Despite this and continuing waves of migration, the Albanian government has not yet announced any policies to really tackle these problems.

There are also many founded asylum applications, with hundreds of Albanians being granted asylum in the UK and Europe every year.