Onoso Imoagene

Broken Mirrors and Reflections: A Study of Footprints from the US Diversity Visa Lottery Program

Onoso ImoageneOnoso Imoagene
Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Gibson Hall, Room 296
Lunch will be provided

My current research project—the Dreams Project—a qualitative study, investigates the impact of the US diversity visa lottery program on winners from Ghana and Nigeria, their families, and sending countries. The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program was created by the US Congress as part of the 1990 Immigration Act to help increase the diversity of immigrants from regions with low rates of legal migration to the United States. The diversity visa program is popular in many developing regions of the world. In recent years approximately 9–12 million people (this includes spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) play the visa lottery. Despite the program being in existence for over two decades and its increasing popularity not much is known about the impact of the program on winners and their families and about the experiences of diversity visa lottery winners pre- and post-migration to the United States.

My talk, Broken Mirrors and Reflections: A Study of Footprints from the US Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which is drawn from the Dreams Project, presents findings on DV migrants experiences and strategies for mobility in the United States and the cottage industry of migration industry actors around the DV program in Ghana. It examines how winning the DV impacted DV migrants from Ghana and Nigeria while they were in the country and after their arrival in the United States. It examines how administration of the diversity visa program affects immigrants’ pre- and post-migration. It then discusses the links between the DV as a mode of entry and DV migrants’ experiences in the United States. My findings enrich our understanding of the link between theories of international migration and immigrant incorporation, and on how immigration policies become contextual determinants of immigrant incorporation. It  adds to what we know about the timing and activation of social capital and how governments can disrupt social networks.


Onoso Imoagene is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her primary areas of research in the areas of International Migration and Immigrant Incorporation with a special focus on first and second generation African immigrants in the British and American Diasporas; Inter-ethnic group (black-on-black) relations, the intersection of race, ethnicity and class in assimilation outcomes of the African second generation; Impact of National Factors on Assimilation; and Migration and Development. She takes a comparative approach in her research. Her first book, Beyond Expectations: Second Generation Nigerians in the United States and Britain (University of California Press 2017) examines the nature of incorporation of the Nigerian second generation in the United States and Britain. Her current project – the Dreams Project – studies West African US Diversity Visa Lottery Winners and their families and communities back home. Onoso will be a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar during AY 2019-2020, where she plans to complete her second book manuscript from the Dreams Project.