Some time last year, a United States District judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs who had sued the U.S. State Department for being denied Diversity Visa interviews following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Mehta ruled that a number of Diversity Visa should be reserved for unfortunate DV applicants.
However, on the bases that the fiscal year in question had elapsed and that it was therefore unlawful to issue the visas, the State Department had appealed the decision handed down by the judge. The appeal hearing to that effect was held on last Friday, September 16, and these are the points to be retained from the proceedings:
1. The hearing was the occasion for the panel of appeal-court judges to hear and examine claims and counter claims of both parties involved in the lawsuits; no ruling was made.
2. The ruling is expected early next year (2023) which may / may not be the end of the matter
3. Another appeal by the losing party – this time, at the U.S. Supreme Court – is quite likely (after the ruling early nexy year is announced)
4. In case of such an eventuality, the resolution of the matter will most likely drag into 2024.
The issue of lawsuits is of interest to most unsuccessful DV 2020 and DV 2021 applicants. However, if visas are eventually made available, only a fraction of those who did not get an interview in both cases will actually benefit.
For DV 2020, Judge Mehta had ordered that 9,095 visas be reserved, whereas there are tens of thousands of applicants whose cases were affected by COVID – 19. In the case of DV 2021, an even smaller number of visas would be reserved.
The 9,095 visas for 2020 applicants concern both non-plaintiffs and plaintiffs in the cases, whereas for DV 2021, it is mostly plaintiffs who would be the primary beneficiaries.
How issuance of the visas in question is expected to be carried out is not yet known. It will be the task of the State Department to draw up a logical method as to how the few visas made available will be issued out.
However, no matter how effectively they implement issuance, most DVs 2020 and 2021 applicants victimized by COVID-19 will end up not receiving one of the reserved for them.