Winner of Diversity Visa Lottery Almost Denied Due to Inadmissability Issues

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 2:45pm

On September 26, 2013, Maggio + Kattar client “Thomas” received an immigrant visa to come to the United States. Thomas was a winner of the diversity visa lottery, or “green card lottery,” for 2013. The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas annually, drawn from random selection to persons who meet certain eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The green card lottery is strictly regulated, and diversity visas for specific fiscal years become unavailable as of September 30th of the fiscal year. Had Thomas not been granted the visa with just days to spare, it is likely that he would have been separated from his lawful permanent resident wife Maria and U.S. citizen children for years to come.

Thomas is a native and citizen of Kenya, who lived in the United States for many years with his wife and two young daughters. Thomas and Maria are hardworking individuals, dedicated to volunteering, participating in their local church, and caring for their children. Many years ago, while going through a difficult time in his life, Thomas had two minor run-ins with the law. Thomas worked hard to put these issues behind him and renewed his focus on his wife and children. In December 2011, Thomas was forced to return to Kenya in December 2011 due to a family emergency.

After Thomas’s wife Maria won the “green card lottery,” she and Thomas both applied for immigrant visas at the consulate in Nairobi. Maria’s visa was granted without issue, but in July 2013, the consulate found Thomas inadmissible to the United States due to his two prior run-ins with the law. The consulate indicated that the only way that the visa would be issued was if Thomas applied for and was granted a waiver of inadmissibility. Such waivers normally take eight months to be approved—which would mean the deadline for issuance of the diversity visa would have long passed by the time the waiver was adjudicated.

Maggio + Kattar worked quickly to put together a compelling waiver package. The adjudication of this waiver required the involvement of not only the U.S. consulate, but several government agencies in the United States. Our office also aggressively advocated for expedited processing of the waiver and followed up with the various agencies regarding its processing. The advocacy paid off. The waiver was approved, and Thomas was issued his immigrant visa on September 26, 2013, just four days before the close of the diversity visa program for his year. Thomas has now returned to the United States as a lawful permanent resident. The family had a very happy reunion after their nearly two year separation.