Prema, the protagonist of Nepali author Manjushree Thapa’s recent novel Seasons of Flight, reinvents herself and finds love in Los Angeles far away from her village in Nepal—thanks to a green card lottery.
Not many in Nepal may have read Thapa’s novel, but most do know about the annual US government programme of granting legal permanent residence (LPR) status to 50,000 lucky applicants using random selection.
Before you start dreaming about love and lucre in LA, here’s the catch. Indians can’t buy this lottery ticket officially called diversity visa.
Only citizens of countries from where less than 50,000 have migrated to US in past five years can apply. Hence, Indians, Pakistanis, Brazilians, Filipinos and citizens of a dozen other countries are ineligible.
That however is not the case with Nepal. Thousands of Nepalis thronged cyber cafes last Wednesday, the last date for applying for the DV 2012 programme, to submit their applications online.
Every year nearly 12-13 million across the globe apply for this visa. In 2008, 2132 Nepalis were ‘registered’ or became winners. The figure was 2189 last year.
In a country where per capita income is around $470 not many think much of shelling out $819 as visa fee — a small price to hopefully earn $ 46,000 annually, like an average US citizen. Their families also share similar hopes. So does the country whose economy is heavily dependent on remittances sent by non-resident Nepalis.