US Visas: State Department Issues Guidance on DV Issuance Priorities
The Green card lottery, also known as the DV program, issues 50,000 immigrant visas annually, based on the results of a random drawing.
The annual Diversity Visa (DV) program run by the Department of State makes available up to 55,000 diversity immigrant visas each year to randomly selected entrants from eligible countries.
The visas are issued to countries with “historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. The list of people from countries permitted to apply is large.” Therefore, for 2020, there were 23,182,554 applicants.
The DV is run once a year, usually in October, and selectees are randomly chosen by computer, who then can then apply for a diversity immigrant visa.
This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the US consulates and embassies stopped processing the winners of the US Green Card DV lottery winners.
This fell in line with the Trump administration’s clampdown on immigration to the US. As a result, it was thought that up to 43,000 applicants are being denied their entry into the US after winning entry.
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The US Government has responded after Judge Amit Mehta in Gomez v. Trump ordered the Department of State (DOS) to make good faith efforts to “expeditiously process and adjudicate DV-2020 diversity visa and derivative beneficiary applications” and to issue DV visas to those eligible by September 30, 2020 which is the deadline for the 2020 Diversity Visa program.
It is thought that the DOS’s “good faith” efforts will not be good enough for many DV applicants after issuing guidance. The DOS has confirmed that it doesn’t expect to accommodate everyone.
The guidance is that embassies and consulates have been instructed that they may begin processing DV applications where local health conditions and resources allow.
The Department has prioritised applications for DV lottery winners.
The priority list is as follows:
- The named plaintiffs in Gomez
- Applicants who were already interviewed and are seeking re-issuance
- Applicants whose appointments in March, April, and May were cancelled
- Applicants with cases pending at the KCC are at the bottom of the list
The Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) in Williamsburg, Kentucky is where the DV program is administered by the U.S. Department of State.
The DOS has advised:
- DV applicants that have previously scheduled appointments (even if cancelled) are supposed to reach out to the relevant embassy or consulate for information about their case.
- If an embassy or consulate is unable to process your case, you may request a transfer to another post by reaching out to the desired embassy or consulate directly – but not all transfer requests will be accommodated.
- DV applicants who had valid visas on April 23, 2020 (and therefore, are exempt from the Presidential Proclamation), but could not travel and now have expired visas, may apply to have their visas reissued before the September 30 deadline.
- Because the 14-Day COVID-19 bans were not part of the Gomez case, DV applicants who are subject to the 14-Day COVID-19 bans (China, Iran, the Schengen Zone, UK and Ireland, and Brazil) may be interviewed, but visas will not be issued to them unless they are exempt or fall within an exception to those bans.
For those of you that are subject to the 14-day COVID-19 bans from China, Iran, the Schengen Zone, UK and Ireland, and Brazil also have a clear route to getting an exception to those bans. We have noted that to get by these bans, you may advance arguments to the embassy which have been proven to be accepted. Reach out to your Visa Coordinator to discuss your particular circumstances.
Once a Diversity Visa is issued, you must be able to enter the United States before the visa expires. In addition:
- Those who fall within an exemption or exception to the July Presidential Proclamation or the 14-Day COVID-19 bans should be able to enter if their visas are issued.
- Because immigrant visas generally expire when the underlying medicals expire, applicants may opt to submit a new medical exam with a later expiration date.
- While there is not much time left and the logistics may not work, it is possible for individuals who are subject to a 14-Day COVID-19 ban to try to wait it out in a non-banned country prior to their visa appointment.
What are your thoughts on the DOS’ guidance on the issuing of diversity visas? If you have been particularly affected by it, we would love to hear from you. Comment below.
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If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help.For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications Or If you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.
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