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Abstract

The Diversity Visa (DV) programme is designed to improve the multicultural composition of the U.S. “melting pot” beyond the traditional source countries in Europe. In pursuit of this objective, the basic eligibility requirement for participation in the programme is a high school diploma. Despite its salutary objective and design, the programme’s implications for the African brain drain may not all be benign. The “tired, poor, huddled masses” from Africa are defined in more restrictive terms, and the obstacles they face are more economically and administratively onerous than those encountered by their early European counterparts. The costs of transforming a lottery win to an actual diversity visa and Green Card are so high that only Africans in well-paying jobs, who are likely to be professionals rather than mere high school graduates, are likely to be able to afford the full costs of programme participation. In this sense, the programme has an in-built, skills-selective mechanism. The main objective of this study is to examine the extent to which the DV has facilitated the movement of professional, technical and kindred workers (PTKs) from Africa to the United States, and some of the economic and policy implications of the process.