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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

More than 1,000 foreigners have seen their luck wasted — winning a coveted diversity green card lottery only to see their visas expire because of the coronavirus and former President Trump's immigration ban.

Why it matters: President Biden has been dismantling many of his predecessor's immigration policies, yet some coronavirus-related restrictions remain — threatening at least 6,500 issued visas set to expire by the end of March.

"President Biden should immediately renounce this illegal usurpation of congressional power and restore the status quo by declaring those bans void," Charles Kuck, an immigration attorney involved in lawsuits on behalf of diversity visa lottery winners, told Axios.

  • “The executive actions signed thus far are just the beginning," a White House spokesperson said. "President Biden has been very clear about restoring compassion and order to our immigration system.”

Background: The diversity visa lottery is a program intended to bring in immigrants from underrepresented countries who don't have family or employers already in the U.S. to sponsor them.

  • A total of 55,000 green cards are available through the lottery each year. Millions of foreigners apply, and typically about 50,000 of the issued visas are used each year, according to historic State Department data.
  • The Trump administration often criticized the idea of a visa lottery and wanted to end the program.

Fast forward: Kuck told Axios at least 6,500 issued visas are at risk of expiring before Trump's ban lifts in March. At least 1,000 have already expired.

  • Barring a court decision or action from Biden, only a few thousand of the total 55,000 diversity lottery visas available from 2020 will have been used to enter the country.
  • Immigrant advocates have sued. "We feel confident we will shortly have a victory in one of these courts before March," Kuck said.

In September, Axios highlighted Fatma's story. For a decade, the 29-year-old Albanian applied for a green card through the diversity visa lottery. She ultimately was selected — only to fight the coronavirus and Trump for her chance to come to the states.

  • Since that article, Fatma had her interview and received her visa but could still be permanently blocked from coming into the U.S.
  • Fatma's lawyer told Axios her visa will expire on March 11 — 20 days before Trump's ban lifts.
  • She and her attorney are "so disappointed and desperate."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.