US Immigration News

Diversity Visa Lottery Reopens with Past Winners Stuck in the Backlog

2.5 minute read
"The Diversity Visa Lottery Program for 2023 began the registration process for the new fiscal year on October 6, 2021. This comes in the wake of thousands of past winners still waiting for their US permanent residence applications to be processed."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Nov 5, 2021
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The Diversity Visa Lottery Program for 2023 began the registration process for the new fiscal year on October 6, 2021. This comes in the wake of thousands of past winners still waiting for their US permanent residence applications to be processed. 

What Is the Diversity Visa Lottery Program?

Every year, the US Congress assigns 55,000 Green Cards to be allotted to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates to the US. These immigrants are selected via a random lottery known as the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. The registration process for the lottery starts well before the next fiscal year, that is September 2023 to allow time for processing applications. 

Why Is There a Diversity Visa Backlog?

The winners of the previous Green Card Lottery are facing chronic processing delays dimming their hopes of starting a new life in the US. Most of the applications for the previous lottery were submitted under the Trump administration and had to face slow processing during the peak of the pandemic. In fact, according to the State Department, due to pandemic-related restrictions, only 3% of the total 55,000 Green Card applications had been processed until June 2021. 

If the US government fails to process the remaining visas by September 30, 2021, the winners will lose their chance of immigrating to the US since visa eligibility does not transfer to the next fiscal year. There are several ongoing federal lawsuits against the US Department of State to process the reserve visas after the deadline.  

What Is the Congress Doing for the Diversity Visa Winners?

According to a spokesperson from the State Department, being randomly selected for the Diversity Visa Lottery does not guarantee a visa interview or a visa issuance, it merely means that the applicant is eligible for the DV Lottery. 

Under Trump Administration, a visa ban was announced to block people from Muslim-majority countries from coming to the US. In 2020, the pandemic forced US Consulates and Embassies all over the world to shut down. The administration then announced a ban on certain immigrant visas in a bid to protect American workers during the pandemic. However, once the consulates and embassies started operating in summer 2020, orders were given to process diversity visas. 

What About the Federal Lawsuits?

In September, a federal court ordered the Biden Administration to resume processing of the Diversity Visa Lottery winners. The US District Court issued an order to set aside around 7,000 visas for the diversity lottery winners in the first week of October. The lawsuit argues that regardless of the pandemic-related restrictions, the State Department deprioritized the processing of diversity visa applications when the consulates resumed operations. 

According to the immigration lawyers representing diversity lottery winners, US embassies have been interviewing only 10 diversity lottery cases every month. The lawsuit is planning to ask the court to issue additional visas for the lottery winners. However, it is unlikely that this request will be accepted.

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