Diversity Lottery

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Diversity Lottery

This lesson is designed to inform students and provoke thought about the Diversity Lottery Visa program.

Essential Questions

How does continuity and change within the United States history influence your community today?
How has social disagreement and collaboration been beneficial to American society?


Students will be able to:

  • Understand how the Diversity Lottery affects African immigration to the United States of America by connecting to the experience of immigrants in the Diversity Lottery through a simulation.
  • Analyze the efficacy and fairness of the Diversity Lottery by completing the web-quest assignment which requires students to develop an informed opinion on the Diversity Lottery.
  • Understand the basic structure and functions of the Diversity Lottery in the immigration system by recording the requirements and details of the process through the web-quest.

Other Materials

Suggested Instructional Procedures

  1. Instruct students to take one moment to partner up with their neighbor to come up with a definition of a lottery, and then share these definitions with the class. Using direct instruction, introduce the idea of the Diversity Lottery to students.
  2. Complete the Diversity Lottery Simulation Activity.
    1. Ask students to imagine that they live in Africa and really need to leave their home country for their survival. Using the list of predominant countries from which Philadelphia’s African immigrants come, allow students to choose a country in which they live. Have students list their full name, date and place of birth (could be in African country other than the one in which they live), list of family members, a drawing or physical description of themselves and their signature on one sheet of paper. Ask students to fold their sheets so that the written information is not visible.
    2. Take all the sheets of paper and place them inside a bag. Make sure no one can see through or into the bag.
    3. Choose a pre-selected amount of sheets of paper. Reveal the names of those students and have them come to the front of the room.
      • Ask the chosen students how they feel?
      • Ask the students not chosen how they feel?
      • Ask the entire class the following questions: How might African immigrants who are actually trying leave their countries through this process feel if they were/were not chosen?
      • Is the diversity lottery fair? Why or why not?
      • How would you feel if you and your family needed to leave this country for survival and the only way to do so was through a diversity lottery?
      • Why do you think we would need a diversity lottery in this country? (Past discrimination in immigration policy toward eligible countries; a means to get different types of people in this country)
  3. Pass out the worksheets. As a class, complete the first two definitions. Provide students with directions on completing the Diversity Lottery Web-quest section of the worksheet and make computers accessible.
  4. Review the actual process and requirements for the Diversity Lottery Visa. Share with students that in reality only half the names drawn come to the United States. The other half is eliminated for various reasons including failure to meet educational requirements or pass medical examinations.


U.S. Diversity Lottery: mandated lottery program that provides 50,000 permanent resident visas to natives of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States
Visa: an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services: a government department dealing with applications from foreign citizens who wish to live in the United States of America

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