visa processing delays

The Path to Opportunity: Addressing the Plight of Diversity Visa Lottery Winners

In an unprecedented legal challenge, winners of the diversity visa lottery have taken a stand against prolonged waiting times that have compelled them to seek alternative, often perilous, routes to enter the United States. The Washington, D.C., federal court has been urged to expedite the processing of thousands of green cards for individuals who, after years of anticipation, find themselves at the brink of desperation, with some resorting to crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as their last hope.

The diversity visa lottery, a beacon of hope for individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S., has become a tangled web of delayed dreams for more than 1,000 families from the fiscal year 2020 lottery. The legal representatives for this diverse group, including nationals from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia, and Sudan, argue that the perilous conditions in their home countries, exacerbated by prolonged waiting times, far outweigh any potential bureaucratic inconveniences that might arise from expedited visa processing.

The heart-wrenching reality faced by these lottery winners is illustrated by tragic stories, such as a young child of a diversity visa applicant who lost their life in a bombing in Sudan. Such dire circumstances have led many to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, a decision driven by the urgent need for safety rather than a disregard for lawful processes. This influx not only strains the resources of U.S. Customs and Border Protection but also adds to the burgeoning workload of immigration courts and asylum offices.

The legal battle for the swift processing of green cards stems from a series of court orders issued more than two years ago, necessitated by a confluence of restrictive policies and the global COVID-19 pandemic, which brought visa processing to a near halt. Despite an appeal by President Joe Biden's administration and ongoing legal reviews, the plaintiffs argue that the situation has materially changed, pointing to the U.S. Department of State's issuance of 10.4 million nonimmigrant visas and 563,000 immigrant visas during fiscal year 2023 as evidence of restored processing capabilities.

Rafael Urena, a legal advocate for the visa winners, emphasizes the dire consequences of inaction, stating, "While this appeal languishes at the Court of Appeals, my clients are dying." The urgency of their plight underscores the need for immediate action to rectify the injustices suffered by these individuals, whose only desire is to realize the American dream promised by the diversity visa lottery.

As an immigration law firm with a deep understanding of the complexities and challenges of the immigration process, we stand with those seeking justice and a fair chance at a new beginning. Our expertise, honed through years of experience and a unique insight gained from a former immigration officer's perspective, equips us to navigate the intricacies of such cases with compassion and unwavering dedication.

For those caught in the throes of immigration uncertainties, our firm offers not just legal representation but a commitment to fighting for the rights and dreams of every individual seeking a better life in the United States. The journey of the diversity visa lottery winners is a stark reminder of the need for an immigration system that upholds the values of fairness, efficiency, and humanity.

In a world where the pursuit of safety and opportunity knows no bounds, our mission remains clear: to provide a beacon of hope and a path to justice for those who dare to dream of a brighter future.


Alyssa Aquino, "Lottery Winners Say Visa Wait Has Sent Them To The Border," Law360, March 6, 2024.

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