In early June 2020, over 50,000 applicants that applied to the Diversity Immigrant Visa program found out that they won a chance to permanently live and work in America. Because of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chosen applicants had to wait an additional month to find out the good news. Winners of the lottery of qualified applicants will hopefully be able to come to the United States in 2021.
A valuable opportunity
The popular program continues despite past threats to the contrary, providing people from certain underrepresented countries a chance to legally immigrate to the United States. This opportunity can be extremely valuable for prospective immigrants that do not have a sponsor or any other way to immigrate.
Applicants must have a valid, unexpired passport to qualify to apply for the Diversity Visa. However, there are exemptions from the passport requirement for:
- Nationals from communist countries
- Persons who are stateless
- Persons possessing certain individual waivers
Applicants must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or two years of work experience in the last five years in a qualifying occupation. There are many other provisions in the application process, which makes it a smart choice to consult with an immigration attorney before applying and have them help you through the process. If you or a friend or family member are interested in immigrating to America, it is advisable to look at all of your options so you can find the path that is right for you.
COVID-19 and presidential proclamations suspending entry for certain immigrants
If a diversity visa lottery recipient is outside the U.S., he or she must move forward as quickly as possible to schedule an in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy abroad and must be issued the diversity visa in his or her passport by the last day of the following Fiscal Year (FY). For recipients who were selected in the 2019 lottery for the 2020 FY, the individuals must be issued their diversity visas before midnight on September 30, 2020. There are no exceptions.
It will be very difficult for individuals to meet this deadline if they did not complete their diversity visa interview before March 20, 2020 when all U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates suspended their routine visa services abroad. Although U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates will consider emergency appointments, it is unclear when they will resume routine services.
Diversity visa lottery winners for FY 2020 who are outside the United States and did not receive a diversity visa in their passport by April 23, 2020, are likely to lose their ability to immigrate based on their lottery selection. On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of certain prospective immigrants to the United States until at least December 31, 2020. The proclamation went into effect on June 24, 2020. President Trump’s prior April 22, 2020 proclamation banned diversity visa recipients from entering the United States and was scheduled to expire on June 22, 2020. President Trump’s June 22, 2020 proclamation extended the April 22, 2020 order until December 31, 2020. The April 22, 2020, and June 22, 2020 proclamations do not apply to individuals who already had a valid diversity visa in their passport on or before April 23, 2020. The proclamations also do not apply to diversity lottery winners who are inside the United States and applying to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident.