Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal.
We are selectees of Diversity Visa Program for the fiscal year 2021 conducted by the United States of America with the authorization of United State Congress through the “Immigration Act of 1990”. With the express purposes of promoting diversity in the immigration system, Congress authorized 55000 diversity immigrant visas each year for the randomly selected individuals from countries with low levels of immigration to the United States. However, this year has been an emotional rollercoaster ride for selectees from few other countries including Nepal and so we are here to bring your attention to the plight faced by 3896 Diversity Visa selectees from Nepal. We hope you would sympathize with our plight and help provide us an exemption for us to have an opportunity to get our interviews before the statutory deadline of September 30th.
In all fiscal years since 1995, around 50,000 diversity visas were allocated and issued every year. However, in fiscal year 2020, just above 18,000 visas were issued but even that number is very high compared to what the projection of this year has shown and specially for Nepal, the statistics are more concerning as with only 4 months remaining to reach the statutory deadline, US embassy Nepal has not been able to conduct a single interview and issue a single visa among 3896 selectees. Before this year, US consulate in Nepal had been one of the most active consulates around the world and secures the top rank in issuing most Diversity Visas around the globe. And nothing could explain this better than last September’s development when DV processing had been halted due to Covid-19 outbreak and issuances of a travel bans implemented by then President Donald J. Trump, which led to various lawsuits being filed and eventually a federal judge in District Court of Columbia ordered embassies to adjudicate interviews expeditiously in remaining time and in just 3 weeks of remaining time, US embassy Nepal was able to issue around 300 Diversity Visas, thus making a total of somewhere around 1200 visas issued among more than 3000 selectees.
There were two reasons for so many people losing out the opportunity to have an interview in fiscal year 2020 and that same issue affected first 5 months of DV 2021 as well:
1. The immigrant visa bans PP 10014 and its extension PP 100152 and PP 100131 which effectively banned Diversity Visas from being processed since the 23rd of April 2020.
2. Covid-19 related embassy closures due to implementation of lockdown imposed by local government.
Processing of the DV 2021 program was stalled due to the presidential proclamations implemented by President Trump but later President Biden found that government actions which cause delay or possible forfeiture of diversity visa selectees’ chance to receive their visas and realize their dreams in the United States are not in the interests of United States and causes real harm to the selectees (Proclamation 10149, Revoking Proclamation 10014, Feb 24, 2021).
In spite of the revocation of Proclamation, US Department of State has been able to issue around only thousand visas in 3 months. One of the major issues for embassies not being able to process these applications has been due to the lockdowns imposed by local government in various countries including Nepal as stated by US embassy and Department of State. If this continues, it will significantly impact the likelihood of everybody who is eligible for a visa receiving in this fiscal year.
Absent intervention by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal will lead thousands of families from Nepal to see their hopes, dreams, effort and expenditure in getting their visas go in vain and their dreams shattered.
Because of the statutory deadline, the impact on Diversity Visas, unlike other visa classes is permanent, the damage extreme. However, we believe this harm can be somehow lessened by the means of negotiation by the Foreign Ministry of Nepal with US embassy Nepal, to create an exemption for conducting interviews for DV 2021 selectees, considering it in accordance of safe ways such as Covid-19 test results, Vaccination reports and use of every other safety measures. If not, tens and thousands of people who rightfully qualified to be adjudicated for their interviews will lose their chance to attain the American Dream.
Last year, DV 2020 selectees faced difficulties like no other year and now DV 2021 selectees are in a worse position than DV 2020 ever was. Covid-19 was not of our doing. President Trump’s immigration ban was unjust and implemented without an evidential basis. We are victims of circumstances beyond our control.
And now although President Biden has abolished the Bans by realizing the harms it lay upon thousands of selectees but the fate of 3896 selectee remains in the hands of our government.