New Diversity Visa Information Requirements



On June 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published a new interim final rule in the Federal Register (FR) regarding the information that must be provided by alien petitioners for the Diversity Visa Program [84 FR 25989 (Jun. 5, 2019)]. The new rule, which takes effect immediately, expands the list of information that must be included in a Diversity Visa petition and provides that petitions lacking such information will be rejected.

Statutory Background

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets forth certain requirements that a Diversity Visa petitioner must meet in order to qualify for an immigrant visa. These include general requirements under section 203(c) of the INA.

Section 204(a)(1)(I)(iii) vests the Secretary of State with the authority to promulgate regulations providing for the requisite information and documentary evidence to support a Diversity Visa Program petition. The DOS's implementing regulations are codified at 22 C.F.R. 42.33.

Regulatory Changes

The interim final rule amends 22 C.F.R. 42.33(b)(1), effective immediately.

1. New Information Requirements and Exemptions

The revised text of 22 C.F.R. 42.33(b)(1) will now require the Diversity Visa petitioner to include the following information on his or her electronic diversity visa entry form:

The unique serial or issuance number associated with the petitioner's valid, unexpired passport;
Country or authority of passport issuance; and
Passport expiration date.

These new documentary requirements will apply only to the principal Diversity Visa petitioner, not to any derivative beneficiaries of the petition.

There are three classes of petitioners to whom the new passport-related information requirements do not apply:

Stateless petitioners;
Petitioners from Communist-controlled countries who are unable to obtain a passport from the Communist-controlled country; or
The beneficiary of an individual waiver approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State, consistent with the passport waivers for immigrant visa applicants set forth in 22 C.F.R. 42.2(d), (e), and (g)(2).

The electronic diversity visa entry form allows petitioners to indicate that they fall within one of the three exempted categories in lieu of entering the requisite passport-related information. The interim final rule makes it incumbent on a petitioner to “indicate that he or she falls into one of these three circumstances on the electronic entry form, instead of providing passport information.” There are no other circumstances under which a petitioner may have the new information requirements waived.

2. Consequences of Failure to Include Requisite Information

The DOS also amended its regulations to “clarify[] that failure to accurately include any information required by 22 CFR 42.33(b)(1) and (2) will result in mandatory disqualification of the petitioner for that fiscal year” (emphasis added). In addition to the new information requirement, the existing regulations in 22 C.F.R. 42.33(b)(1) and (2) require the petitioner to submit specific information, including, but not limited to:

date of birth,
place of birth for the principal petitioner and any accompanying relatives, and
if selected to apply for a diversity visa, a digital photo.

These information requirements preexisted the new rules. However, the former rules “[did] not make clear the consequence for failure to provide the information.” Under the new regulation, it is clear that the failure to submit any of the required information, including a compliant digital photograph, will result in the disqualification of the entry, the petitioner, and any derivatives from the Diversity Visa Program for the current fiscal year.

3. New Regulatory Text

The following is the text of the amended regulations, extracted from the interim final rule:

Reason for the New Rules

The DOS states that it promulgated the new rules to address a significant number of fraudulent Diversity Visa Program entries. It hopes that the new rule will curtail certain types of fraud involving the Diversity Visa Program wherein individuals and entities submit fraudulent entries without the putative petitioner's consent, and then seek to hold the information in exchange for payment. The DOS stated that its reason for clarifying that failure to include any of the requisite information will result in disqualification is to clarify both the requirements for Diversity Visa petitions and the reasons why certain deficient petitions are disqualified.

Public Comments

The interim final rule took effect on June 5, 2019, the date it was published. The DOS is nevertheless accepting public comments on the rule up to July 5, 2019.


There are two important aspects to the new rule on Diversity Visa petitions. First, petitioners will now have to submit information about their passport in order for the Diversity Visa petition to be approvable. This requirement only applies to principals, not to derivatives. Second, petitions lacking the passport information (without an exemption) or any of the other information required under the applicable regulations will be disqualified for that fiscal year.

The new regulation makes it more important than ever for Diversity Visa petitioners to carefully complete the filing form and include all required information. The new regulations make clear that the petition will not be approvable without all of the information required by regulations, including the new requirement for information related to the petitioner's passport. Petitioners may consult with an experienced immigration attorney for case-specific guidance on entering the Diversity Visa Program and, if selected, subsequently pursuing an immigrant visa.