Diversity Visa Program: Goodluck v. Biden
Diversity Visa Program
The Diversity Visa Program (DV Program) makes approximately 50,000 immigrant visas available per year. Visas are drawn randomly amongst applicants from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. As most diversity visa lottery winners are located outside the U.S. at the time they win the lottery, they must obtain their permanent residency through consular processing, which requires an interview with U.S. consulates abroad.
However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related processing delays, many applicants have been blocked from completing the visa application process due to closures or reduced operations of U.S. consulates abroad that have prevented them from accessing the consular interviews required to obtain their visas before the fiscal year deadline, September 30th, 2021. What’s more, pandemic delays have been compounded by the U.S. government’s “No-Visa Policy” and its visa prioritization scheme placing diversity visas at the lowest level of processing priority. As of the beginning of June 2021, the U.S. government had only issued about 1500 DV-2021 visas.
Because diversity lottery visas cannot be carried over to the next fiscal year, these processing delays stand to cause the affected applicants to lose this once in a lifetime chance to obtain their green cards (with over 23 million lottery entrants a year, a diversity green card visa lottery entrant has less than a one percent chance to be selected to win the right to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa). As a result, many of the affected applicants have joined forces in a lawsuit to attempt to seek remedies in response to this challenging situation.
Goodluck et al. v Biden
An immigration lawsuit (Goodluck v Biden) has been filed on behalf of more than 24,000 diversity visa lottery winners from over 100 countries. Within the framework of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are challenging the State Department decision that made the Diversity Visa applicants the lowest-tier priority for processing, while also seeking an order to have their diversity visa applications fully adjudicated (and to have the corresponding visas issued) before the statutory deadline on September 30, 2021. Alternatively, plaintiffs are seeking to preserve the visa numbers in the event that the diversity visas cannot be adjudicated before the statutory deadline.
The decision in Goodluck v Biden will be revealing in exposing the current U.S. government’s position on immigration. Should the visas be allowed to lapse with no remedies provided for plaintiffs, the orientation of the State Department’s current guidance stating that diversity visas have been made a “tier four” priority will be confirmed. Alternatively, should the visas be issued or preserved, Goodluck et al. v Biden will set an important precedent in underlining the importance of population diversity goals outlined in the Immigration Act of 1990.
Silver Immigration will continue to monitor and update.