January 9, 2021
Good news! Biden will override Trump’s restrictions on the DV Lottery in his first 100 days as President. Now that Joe Biden’s presidential election win has been confirmed by the U.S. Congress, what actions can we expect him to take with regard to the Green Card Lottery?
Under President Trump’s four-year administration, the Diversity Visa Program was a constant target of his disdain. He sought to eliminate it completely, falsely claiming that foreign countries select the “worst of the worst” of their people to participate in the annual lottery.
In fact, the visa program—which is authorized to grant up to 55,000 permanent residence visas each year—has stringent participation requirements. Furthermore, visa winners are subjected to a months-long background and security check before they are issued their visas and allowed to enter the U.S. Many other winners have already been living in the U.S. under a different visa status, often for many years, and, therefore, have an established reputation.
Trump failed to eliminate the program, but still did his best to restrict it. In January 2020 he banned the African countries of Sudan and Tanzania from participating in the program, which was largely observed as a blatant swipe towards Muslim countries. In February 2020, he orchestrated the issuance of a “public charge rule,” which makes inadmissible any immigrant from entering the United states if they are deemed likely to use any public benefits. In April 2020 he ordered a temporary halt to issuance of new green cards altogether, citing the coronavirus threat as the justification. This second order, in particular, caused great harm; many winners of the previous year’s Green Card Lottery who were in process of completing their visa paperwork or awaiting final interviews, were left hanging. It is estimated that thousands of the 50,000+ diversity visas available for that fiscal year were not issued as the October 31st visa issuance deadline came and past, with the Covid-based green card ban still in effect.
Joe Biden has repeatedly and publicly stated his intention of repealing many of Trump’s dictates during his first 100 days in office. Biden has promised to end the “Muslim ban” on his first day in office. As a part of his coronavirus action plan, Biden has also promised to end Trump’s “public charge” rule. He has also voiced his resolute intention to lift the suspension on issuance of immigrant visas (green cards).
The Biden Administration, in short, will reverse most, if not all, bans and restrictions that were placed on the Diversity Visa Lottery over the past four years. This is good news for those wishing to participate in future iterations of the Green Card Lottery. More opportunity. More availability. More certainty.
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