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An American in Paris Launches Digital Lottery

Broadway’s Gershwin musical offers new discounts.

Broadway’s An American in Paris will launch a digital lottery beginning Tuesday, January 26.

A limited number of $40 tickets will be available through the lottery, which will open at 8am for matinees and 10am for evening performances, and will remain open until 11am/3pm when winners are drawn. Winners, notified by e-mail within minutes upon the drawing, will have 60 minutes to pay for their tickets with a credit card online and can pick up the tickets at the Palace Theatre box office 30 minutes prior to showtime. Photo ID is required for pickup and seat locations awarded by the lottery are subject to availability. For details and entrance into the digital lottery, click here.

Winner of four 2015 Tony Awards, An American in Paris is directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Inspired by the Academy Award-winning film, the show features music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin and a book by Craig Lucas. The production stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope, alongside principal cast members Max von Essen, Brandon Uranowitz, Jill Paice, and Veanne Cox. The production officially opened April 12 at the Palace Theatre.

Broadway's Gershwin musical offers new discounts.

I’m French, and I Won the Green Card Lottery

sihem.fekih
Dec 1, 2015 · 6 min read

In October 2010, I decided to play to the green card lottery, also known as the diversity visa program.

After spending two months in California, I wanted to make the move, hoping to get a better job. The political context didn’t help. Every single day, my friends, fellow journalists, and I saw the extreme right wing growing its audience in mainstream media and public opinion. As a Muslim French citizen with North African roots, I’ve never felt comfortable seeing the country where I was born and raised blame us for the crisis in Europe. And in the meantime, there were several attacks in France and in Belgium against Jewish communities, along with the radicalization of some members of the Muslim community.

The tension and hatred over immigration and culture clash was much more than I could bear. In my mother’s homeland of Algeria during the 1990s, terrorism was a daily threat for my family and I have really traumatic memories of this time. I feel like Europe is looping in a vicious circle. Considering the recent attacks on Paris, with friends and family still there, I’m sad to think I may be right about Europe’s fate.

So with all that going on in my mind, I decided to play my luck.

The Diversity Visa Immigrant Program allows people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. to apply for a fast-track green card. The application isn’t easy; the State Department has a 25-minute video explaining how to apply. When I entered the lottery, I wasn’t really convinced I had a chance to win.

The visa bulletin for the program was published in May 2011, and when I checked, I didn’t win. But that year, it turned out that they didn’t pick up enough numbers so they had to cancel the visa bulletin and do the lottery again. Eventually, the candidates who were already selected for the first draw were also informed, so they wanted to avoid the second draw that could remove their pre-selection. They ended up starting a class action lawsuit and sued the State Department. A judge decided that the first lottery wasn’t legit and ordered the State Department to do another round. So guess who got picked in that second round?

In July 2012 , I received an email from the State Department informing me to check my status. Once I knew I was pre-selected and digested the surprising news, I realized that I had only three months to complete the whole process, sending back another for and updating information about my marriage status. (My husband, Corentin, and I got married before my appointment at the embassy; otherwise my husband couldn’t have been on my file and we would have had to apply for a different visa.) The form was incredibly long; I remember having to fill in every address I had since I was 16 and both my husband and I had to list all of the jobs we’d had.

So I sent back the form, explaining that would get married soon. They gave us an appointment at the U.S. embassy in Paris on 9/11 (believe it or not) and voilà.

Why did we have to rush to send back the forms? It’s because as soon as you know you’re pre-selected, you have to act fast. It’s first-come, first-served. The State Department delivers 50,000 out of 100,000 pre-selected lottery winners each year out of millions of people who enter the lottery.

When we had our embassy appointment, we had to bring every type of proof of our identity (copies of our IDs, marriage certificate, diplomas, military certifications, proof of address, work certifications) as well as a proof of financial sustainability (including a copy of our bank account proving that we had enough money to live on for at least six months). The other challenge was having to prove that our marriage wasn’t fake. In fact, the U.S. embassy received our file from the Kentucky consular center one week before our appointment and they thought that our recent wedding was suspicious. An officer called Corentin three days before our appointment and told him to bring proof that we were together way before our wedding. So he ended doing a patchwork with our photos and messages on a big sheet.

We also had to visit a doctor certified by the U.S. embassy to get X-rays and blood samples. I thought,

“Ellis Island might be shut down, but they’re still doing the same tests before they let people enter the country.”

The doctor was nice, but the fees were insanely high for France. The X-ray was to verify that we didn’t have tuberculosis, and the blood test to verify if we had any serious diseases. But there was no HIV test or drug test, the doctor said.

When we arrived at the embassy, we brought every document we were asked to bring, plus our “love story project.” We had to pay something like 250 euros ( almost $300) each for the application fees. It was the only time we had to pay anything. I realized that for us, 500 was nothing but I couldn’t imagine that the amount is the same in other currencies. So for some people in developed countries, it represents a lot of money.

I was so prepared for the interview, repeating the answers in my mind.

“So why do you want to live in the U.S.?”

It turned out that the consular agent didn’t give a damn. First we had to stand in front of a booth facing her through a window through these phones you see in jail scenes in movies (I was surprised). She just verified that my information was correct, asking me for the thousandth time where I studied, checking and double-checking my college diploma, what my job was… Corentin had the easiest questions about the wedding and if our families were present…. I was annoyed I had to deal with the scrutiny.

And then, the consular officer said this:

“Everything is good, so you will receive your passports soon, and good luck for the rest.” When we left, I felt clumsy and tipsy and weird. I remember it was raining and thinking “Wait a minute, that’s it?” Corentin kept saying, “We did it, we did it.”

In the diversity program, when you get your green card, you receive a little brochure that encourages you to get in touch with your community in the U.S. so they will help you settle more easily. In some cases that works; not so much with the French community in the U.S. We don’t have any association or club, and we’re not organized because our mentality is based on individual achievement, especially in Paris. Anyway, we picked New York.

From seven months, I tried to manage to find a place to stay, pack our stuff, maintain my gigs, find a job… Each and every cent we earned we started to save, as much as we could. We were even counting how much we would need to pay a plane ticket, and we compared every expense to that, (“No, we won’t go to the restaurant, it will cost one-tenth of a round-trip flight.”) We knew that money would be our only security without any relatives or friends in New York.

The hardest part was realizing that I would be very far from my family and admitting that it wouldn’t be easy for any of us. The few weeks before we moved in, we were sleepless, excited, afraid, and tired. But looking back, I don’t regret a bit.

This essay is part of the My Time in Line series, in which immigrants are sharing their experiences of what it’s really like to get legal status .

In October 2010, I decided to play to the green card lottery, also known as the diversity visa program. After spending two months in California, I wanted to make the move, hoping to get a better job…