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Trump-era Diversity Visa Passport Rule Struck Down by Court (1)

Feb. 7, 2022, 4:54 PMUpdated: Feb. 7, 2022, 9:30 PM

A federal judge has struck down a rule requiring diversity visa applicants to obtain passports before they could enter an annual lottery for the U.S. entry papers.

The State Department enacted the requirement in 2019 as an interim final rule, meaning it took effect upon publication, and without public opportunity for comment. Four visa petitioners previously eligible for the lottery who couldn’t apply because of the new requirement sued.

In a Feb. 4 ruling, Washington U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly found the regulations were enacted unlawfully because they skipped the public comment period required by the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that tripped up other Trump administration rulemaking efforts.

Kelly, who was a nominee of President Donald Trump, previously denied the plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief because they hadn’t shown the rule would cause them irreparable harm.

The diversity visa program allows up to 50,000 lottery winners from underrepresented countries a path to permanent residency in the U.S. each year. The program receives about 14 million applications annually.

The Department of Justice represented the State Department. Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP and Georgetown Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection were counsel for the plaintiffs.

The State Department said in a statement that the agency will adjust its operations, consistent with the order.

The case is E.B. v. U.S. Department of State, D.D.C., 1:19-cv-02856, 2/4/22.

(Added State Department response in seventh paragraph. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Kreighbaum in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Harris at, Melissa B. Robinson at