Congress should ensure that Diversity Visa selectees are able to receive their visas
Because current law prevents the State Department from issuing visas after the end of the fiscal year, Congress will need to pass legislation to ensure that qualifying diversity visa selectees who were not able to secure their visas and travel to the U.S. before the end of the fiscal year (through no fault of their own) can receive their visas even after the fiscal year statutory cut-off.
Representatives Torres and Judy Chu (D-CA) have introduced the Keeping Our Promise Act (H.R. 3548) to allow continued eligibility for individuals and their families who were selected to apply for diversity visas in FYs 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, or 2021, but were either denied visas under the various travel bans, or were unable to receive a visa interview because of COVID-19 closures. Portions of this legislation were recently included in the FY 2022 Homeland Security Appropriations bill that passed out of committee, signaling early Congressional support.
Eligible selectees would have an additional year to notify the government of their intent to proceed with their application, and would maintain their eligibility until they receive their visa (or until they decide to abandon the process or are denied a visa on some other grounds).
This legislation would not add to the number of people eligible for a visa, nor would it affect any requirements for background checks or admissibility. It would simply ensure that temporary restrictions on travel do not permanently prevent qualified individuals from coming to the United States, and ensure that individuals who were selected to receive a diversity visa can actually do so.
In addition to preserving eligibility, Congress could also recapture green cards for diversity visa winners that have gone unused in previous years, similar to proposals to recapture unused employment-based and family-based green cards, to make sure that the full allotment of diversity visas is ultimately issued.