A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Court Exempts DV-2020 Winners from Visa Ban

The Trump Administration's visa ban has prevented immigrants from entering the U.S. through the rest of the year. Worse, many embassies and consulates remain closed while others have been directed to halt visa processing and issuance. Processing has been at a standstill for many cases, leaving qualified immigrant visa applicants at a loss.

Among the most affected are Diversity Visa (DV) lottery winners and their families, who will lose the opportunity to get a visa entirely if they do not receive it by September 30. By law, DV visas may not be issued to applicants after September 30 for the following fiscal year. 

However, due to the suspension of visa services by the State Department, there was no mechanism for DV-2020 applicants to apply for a visa based on their winning to immigrate to the U.S. 

The applicants challenged the DOS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Federal Judge Amit Mehta, who sided with Trump on the "Muslim Ban", ruled that the DOS' refusal to process Diversity Lottery visas was unlawful. The judge said that the State Department cannot "effectively extinguish" the visa lottery "by simply sitting on its hands letting all pending diversity visa applications time out".

Judge Mehta ordered that the Diversity Lottery winners have their visa applications processed as soon as possible before September 30th. The State Department must also give a September 25th update on how many diversity visas were issued. During the September 25th briefing, it will be decided if leftover diversity lottery numbers will be reserved for next year.

Diversity Lottery winners should contact their local consulate immediately and request for an emergency appointment. This decision comes as good news as the Trump Administration has implemented a series of strict policies regarding immigration and visa issuance. Hopefully, it will lead to more relief for foreign nationals during these tough times.

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