When communism fell in Romania, Elena Ochian took a risk and applied to the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. She was one of the lucky ones to be accepted, a decision that changed her life.
Ms. Ochian was born in Bacău during Romania’s communist regime. In 1990, a fledgling democracy was established but struggled to thrive. Elena grew worrisome about the prospects of staying in her home country; she thought it could take years for Romania to stabilize.
During her final year of college, Ms. Ochian discovered a unique opportunity: the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. Also known as the Green Card Lottery, the program makes permanent residency in the U.S. available to people worldwide. After a yearlong interview process, Elena was selected for the program.
Upon her arrival in Minnesota, Ms. Ochian began to realize that her transition would be much harder than she expected. It was difficult to find an apartment without any credit history, and she had to restart her career as a bank teller. Currently, Ms. Ochian is the Director of Benefits for Thrivent Financial, a Fortune 500 financial services organization. She lives in Shoreview, Minnesota with her husband and their son.