Diversity Lottery Visa Consular Interviews Might Resume in Some Countries

September 9, 2020 U.S. Department of State (DOS) announces that applicants for this year's visa lottery may be processed in embassies and consulates where local health conditions and post resources allow.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

In 2020, many people who'd been chosen as diversity visa lottery winners discovered that they were blocked from moving forward with their cases, owing to travel bans based primarily on the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In early September 2020, however, a federal district court, in a case called Gomez, et al. v. Trump, issued a preliminary injunction to stop the Trump administration from denying immigrant visas to 2020 diversity visa winners. The court ordered the U.S. government to process all 2020 applications as quickly as possible before September 30, the fiscal year end. Once that date passes, eligibility for the diversity visa will be lost (unless the lawyers on this case can persuade the judge to take further measures if it's clear that DOS failed to process large numbers of applicants on time).

In response, the Department of State (DOS) announced that certain applicants for this year's visa lottery may be processed in embassies and consulates where local health conditions and post resources allow it. If a consular post is unable to process an eligible case due to local conditions and resource constraints, applicants in that region may request a transfer to another post.

Given the short timeline, and the need to complete or update one's medical exams and other required portions of the application, not to mention the possibility that you might need to travel to another country, you'll want to act on this immediately in order to have any chance of success.

Candidly, it might be impossible, especially since the DOS will give first priority to applicants who:

  • were named plaintiffs in Gomez v. Trump and its companion cases
  • have already been interviewed and are seeking visa reissuance or to overcome a prior refusal
  • were scheduled for appointments in March, April, or May, which appointments were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide suspension of routine visa processing, or
  • have cases pending with the Department’s Kentucky Consular Center and will be interviewed at posts that have additional capacity to process applications.

What's more, the court injunction covers only obtainin a visa. It still doesn't get you past the entry bars and let you into the United States. DOS says that you'll need to meet an exception to Presidential Proclamation 10014, which banned entry by workers.

In addition, DOS says that applicants subject to a regional COVID-19 travel ban (Brazil, Ireland, U.K., Schengen Zone countries in Europe, Iran, and China) may be interviewed and processed, but if they've been physically present in the affected region during the preceding 14-day period, they will not be issued an immigrant visa unless they too can meet an exception.

Consult an attorney if at all possible. If you're going it alone, be persistent in contacting your local consulate and requesting an emergency interview, and to be treated as “mission critical.”

If you miss the September 30 deadline, watch this page for updates on whether any extensions were ordered by the court.

Effective Date: September 9, 2020