Passport Rule Revoked!
Following the decision by US District Judge Timothy J. Kelly to remove the Passport Rule from the DV Lottery as presented in our previous article on the matter, the State Department has now taken a concrete measure to ensure implementation. For some days now, and as indicated in the below excerpt from the reference document which provides updates, clarity as well as detailed instructions on how relevant issues are to be handled by COs at interviews, DoS updated relevant texts and instructs:
“If you encounter applicants from the DV2021 through DV2023 program years who did not list valid passport information on their DV program entry, or had a change in the passport numbers provided between the time of DV entry and visa application, or there was a claimed exemption on the entry form, you should not consider that information at all as it is no longer legally relevant to the applicant’s eligibility”
The above update was preceded by the following brief intro to the issue:
Passport Requirement: Starting with entrants in DV2021 (opened for entry registration in October 2019), each DV entry was required to include the passport number, country or authority of issuance, and expiration date for the principal entrant’s valid, unexpired passport or be qualified for a passport exemption. In February 2022, a federal district court vacated the regulation that provided the basis for this requirement.
Revocation currently in force
Implementation of the judge’s decision is therefore already in effect at United States consular posts worldwide. This means that in ongoing interviews, applicants who did not enter correct passport information or unjustly claimed an exception at the time of entering the Lottery will not be penalized (i.e. not be denied Diversity Visas) on such grounds as was the case before.
This does not mean selectees will not need passport to be issued Diversity Visas. Certainly not! It only concerns entry into the DV Lottery. Once selected, all applicants will need a valid passport when applying for their Diversity Visas.
Is this good news?
The removal of the passport rule from the Lottery has been celebrated as good news by Diversity Visa enthusiasts. But whether it is or not actually depends on which side of the spectrum one is standing. Those who are otherwise eligible for the program, but who do not possess a valid passport see this new development as a win. Those on the other hand who are already in possession of the document have frowned on the judge’s decision, citing a list of irregularities the move will re-introduce in the DV Lottery.
For example, not having passport as a requirement to enter the Lottery, fraudsters would enter individuals whose profile they may be in possession of without the knowledge and or consent – but at the detriment – of the individuals concerned. In addition, the increase in the number of entries this decision will result in will cause an overall reduction in the chances of each individual entrant, among others.
Is the decision/implementation permanent?
Whether the judge’s decision and its current implementation will remain in place for the upcoming DV Lottery, one cannot say categorically. It will all depend on the position adapted by the State Department in the coming months. In effect, nonaction on the part of the Department up to the publication of the DV-2024 Instructions will see the currently-implemented decision of the judge remain in effect during the upcoming Lottery.
In case the State Department intends to have the Passport rule return to the upcoming Lottery – and possibly subsequent ones, they will have to follow the proper procedure while re-introducing the rule. And this, undoubtedly before the 2024 instructions are published. It is such a move on their part which will ‘overturn’ the judge’s decision, and re-introduce the Passport rule in future Lotteries.
It’s by then that we will be able to look back at the recently-announced news and say whether it was a happy or sad one.