DV Lottery Passport Rule May Be Removed!

Background

In June 2019, the U.S. State Department introduced a regulation that requires entrants to the Diversity Visa Lottery to be in possession of a valid unexpired passport. The regulation resulted in an outcry by many entrants and a number of U.S. based right groups, with the latter largely attributing the move to an ill will on the part of the then U.S. Administration to discriminate against entrants from poor countries who they considered were “too poor to afford passports”.

That didn’t affect the decision and determination of the State Department to implement the regulation which has been in place for the past three DV lotteries (DV 2021, 2022 and 2023).

Legal Challenge

The implementation of the new rule however did not go unattacked. It was challenged by two entrants backed by their U.S.-based relatives who advanced the argument that “the Passport Rule continues to prevent (the pair) from participating in future diversity lotteries because neither can afford a passport just for applying to the Diversity Lottery Program” in addition to “alleging that the promulgation of the Passport Rule without notice-and-comment rulemaking was unlawful . . .”

As such, a DC Judge has been hearing their case.

Judge’s Decision

His intervention in the matter has finally ended, and in the past few days, DC Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly released a Memorandum Opinion which contains his decision to remove the Passport Rule from entry into the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Judge Kelly’s decision was primarily based not on the argument that the plaintiffs were not capable of acquiring passports, but rather on the consideration that the State Department did not respect the law as far as implementing administrative procedures is concerned.

According to the Memorandum Opinion published, the Judge will later issue an order which is expected to provide the details of his decision regarding the passport rule.

Possibility of Appeal

This decision by the Judge will most probably be appealed by the State Department who have not only invested a lot in the implementation of the rule, but who see it as a legitimate responsibility on their part to curtail – or possibly eliminate – fraud from the DV Lottery process.

Another possibility

As noted above, the Judge’s decision is based on the non-adherence of the State Department to established procedure (rather than the plaintiffs additional argument that “the Passport Rule continues to prevent (them) from participating in future diversity lotteries . . .”. As such, the State Department may well opt to rectify errors that they may have committed and thus reimplement (maintain) the rule as that seems as a viable way to ‘counter’ the Judge’s decision.

Conclusion

So depending on how things play out between the State Department and Judge Kelly in the coming months, we may or may not have the recently-introduced Question # 7 (Passport) on the Diversity Visa 2024 Entry form come October.

It’s nevertheless not a bad thing to acquire / remain in possession of your valid passport, just in case . . .

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