The requirement to present a valid passport to participate in the Green Card Lottery has been overturned by a US federal judge. The passport rule had only been introduced by former President Trump in 2019 and had excluded many people from the popular lottery.
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According to US authorities, the reason for implementing the additional requirement in the Green Card Lottery in 2019 was fraudulent and unauthorized registrations in the annual draw for US immigrant visas.
In individual cases, data was submitted without the knowledge of the individuals concerned to extort substantial fees in the event of a win. The requirement to provide passport information was intended to address this weakness in the application process, as fraudulent third parties typically cannot provide a passport. Thus the identities of applicants could be better verified.
It was assumed that the intention behind introducing the passport rule by the Trump administration was simply to reduce the number of participants. This effect occurred as a valid passport is only available to just under half of all previous Green Card Lottery participants.
While around 14.7 million people worldwide had still participated in the lottery in 2018, this figure was down to just over 7 million after introducing the passport obligation in 2019.
In many countries (some even in Europe), only a small percentage of the population has a passport because travel abroad is either not done or, within the EU, is possible without a passport.
Acquiring a passport solely to participate in the Green Card Lottery is costly and, in some countries, also a high bureaucratic hurdle.
Following the announcement of the participation requirements for the Green Card Lottery in 2019, four former participants had filed a lawsuit because obtaining a passport - even more so in such a short period - would not have been possible for them from both a financial and technical perspective.
For strategic reasons, the lawsuit was not directed against the passport rule itself but against how it was implemented: without adherence to the time limits required by law and without the opportunity for affected individuals to be heard.
Federal Judge Timothy J. Kelly now ruled that this introduction "by the back door" was not legal. In principle, however, nothing would stand in the way of a query of passport data, but in the upcoming Green Card Lottery, the passport obligation is deemed to be repealed, at least on formal grounds.
It is still unclear whether the U.S. State Department will reintroduce the request for passport data in the Green Card Lottery. Since the rule was only repealed due to a formal error, it could be brought back at any time - on the legally correct path this time.
However, experts consider this scenario unlikely, as the Biden administration has no interest in restricting the Green Card Lottery any further. On the contrary, during the election campaign, US President Joe Biden advocated increasing the number of Green Cards to be drawn from 55,000 to 80,000.
Nevertheless, if there are plans to reintroduce the passport requirement, it would be unlikely to happen before the end of 2022. There is a lack of time for this, as the official period for registering in the Green Card Lottery with the US government starts in October.
The original purpose of the Green Card Lottery was to ensure diversity of cultures in the United States and give people from all over the world a chance to live in America.
However, the passport rule excluded the very people from the lottery who most needed this opportunity and for whom it is impossible to apply for a passport for bureaucratic and often political reasons.
After three years of significant restrictions, the abolition of the passport requirement is good news. It brings back the principle of the United States as a world-open country: freedom, diversity, and opportunity for all!
The elimination of the passport requirement has also made the process easier for participants without systemic barriers. There have been occasional problems with passports during the past three years, even among the lucky Green Card winners.
Reasons for this included errors in passport numbers (e.g., confusion of "0" and "O"), expiration of validity, or even theft of the passport. The abolition of the passport requirement has now resolved these additional risks, and the actual receipt of the Green Card after a win has become even more secure.
Anyone with minimal educational requirements can again participate in the Green Card Lottery without additional bureaucratic hurdles. Thus, even people who otherwise have little chance of applying for immigration and a work permit for the USA get a real opportunity to live in the United States.
The Green Card Lottery has always been the best advertisement for the USA abroad. Almost every citizen of the earth has, at least with a bit of luck, the chance to make their way in the land of opportunity.
We do not expect valid passport data to be needed in 2022 (DV-2024). However, suppose this or other data is requested now or in the future. In that case, we will inform you immediately and pull out all the stops to ensure that your application is submitted on time and error-free nonetheless.
If you have won a Green Card, you still need to present a valid passport to obtain your immigrant visa at a US consulate or embassy. However, it is sufficient to apply for a passport only after you have already received your winning notification from The American Dream.
The American Dream will stay by your side as a reliable partner concerning the Green Card Lottery, guiding you safely through the entire application process and keeping you up to date with all the latest news. Subscribe to the The American Dream Newsletter with weekly updates about traveling and immigrating to the USA.