Originally Published in the Miami Herald
Daniel Shoer Roth - February 27, 2021
Ending a ban on legal immigration imposed last year, President Joe Biden reopened the country this week to thousands of people who won the 2020 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program but couldn’t come to the U.S. because of an order by former President Donald Trump.
Biden’s Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 10014 says that Trump’s measure, aimed at protecting American jobs during the pandemic, did “not advance the interest of the United States.”
The executive order signed Wednesday specifically mentions immigrants who were selected in the Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery, that allocated up to 55,000 permanent resident cards for immigrants with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.
“Proclamation 10014 has prevented these individuals from entering the United States, resulting, in some cases, in the delay and possible forfeiture of their opportunity to receive Fiscal Year 2020 diversity visas and to realize their dreams in the United States,” Biden said of his predecessor’s immigration ban.
Because all of the diversity visas available for 2020 had to be issued no later than Sept. 30, 2020, only a fraction of winners were able to get their green cards in the U.S.
The window to immigrate will be reopened after Biden’s rescinding of Proclamation 10014, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs announced on Wednesday.
Visa Lottery winners whose visas issued in 2020 are still valid “may seek entry to the United States immediately, despite the visa annotation ‘Entry Subject to PP 10014,’ ”, government officials said in a statement.
However, applicants whose visas have expired won’t be issued replacement visas unless they were plaintiffs in Gomez v. Trump, a lawsuit filed by a civil rights coalition challenging Trump’s immigration ban.
“Individuals who received diversity visas in 2020 as a result of orders in the court case Gomez v. Trump may travel to the United States on an expired visa as the court ordered the government to treat these visas as though they were issued on the date P.P. 10014 was rescinded,” the department said.
Authorities encouraged foreigners who benefited from the court’s order to travel to the U.S. “as soon as practicable as the order could change.” One of the plaintiffs, a woman from the Ivory Coast, was quoted in a news release from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), sharing her “indescribable joy.”
“Finally! A new glimmer of hope is reborn,” said visa winner Ijeoma Golden Kouadio. “This is a huge relief, and the beginning of our dreams becoming real.”
Visa Lottery winners usually receive immigrant visas to enter the U.S. after interviews at a U.S. embassy or consulate, but are entitled to apply for visa issuance only during a U.S. government fiscal year.
Therefore, 2020 Diversity Visa winners “who were not issued visas before September 30, 2020 for any reason including P.P. 10014 will not be interviewed, scheduled, or reconsidered for visas,” the department clarified.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs also notified people who won visas in the 2021 Visa Lottery that they must keep waiting for the scheduling of an interview, according to the phased resumption of consular visa services. All winners, including family members, must be issued visas by September 30, 2021, according to the instructions for the 2021 Diversity Visa Program.
Read this story in Spanish in el Nuevo Herald.
Daniel Shoer Roth is a journalist covering immigration law who does not offer legal advice or individual assistance to applicants. Follow him on Twitter @DanielShoerRoth or Instagram. The contents of this story do not constitute legal advice.