By Ray O’Hanlon
October will be the mail-in month for the latest batch of diversity visas on offer to applicants from countries around the world, including Ireland.
Meanwhile, an effort to restore an immigration-law provision that makes matters easier for undocumetned immigrants has been launched. But it faces an uphill battle for success.
The mail-in period for the visas, in this case "DV-2002" visas, has been set for between noon on Monday, Oct. 2, and noon on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
A statement outlining the application period was released in recent days by the U.S. State Department.
In a change from recent years, completed applications for the new diversity visas must be mailed during the specified mailing period to the Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, Ky., as opposed to the National Visa Center in Portsmouth, N.H.
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Complete application instructions, including the necessary full mailing address, will be released by the State Department in early August.
Under the Diversity Visa legislation, 55,000 permanent residency visas are allocated globally every year. Under the visa scheme, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are considered separate entities for application purposes.
Meanwhile, there is a renewed effort taking shape aimed at restoring a provision in U.S. immigration law that once allowed undocumented individuals to legitimize their status in the U.S. without leaving the country.
A coalition of business groups, unions, religious groups and immigrants’ rights groups are pressing for, among other things, the restoration of Section 245i, a provision that was allowed expire by Congress two years ago.
According to a report in the newspaper Catholic New York, the coalition has won bipartisan support from two leading political figures, Republican Jack Kemp and Democrat Henry Cisneros. Both are former secretaries of Housing and Urban Development.
However, while the coalition has started taking its case to Congress, it faces an uphill battle.
"It’s dead, forget it," Allen Kay, a spokesman for Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Immigration Sub-Committee, said regarding 245i.
"245i is one of the most moribund, expired provisions in all of law," he said. "There was a clear consensus in Congress to let it expire. Activists talk about it a lot, but it’s just wishful thinking."
The problem for undocumented Irish immigrants became particularly acute in the wake of 245i’s demise.
Under separate new immigration provisions, undocumented individuals who overstay their visas by six months face a three-year ban from the U.S. Individuals who overstay by a year face a 10-year ban.
With 245i no longer available as an option, the undocumented who attempt to make regular their status in the U.S. must return to their country of origin to do so.
However, once they leave the U.S., the bans kick-in automatically, thus rendering the effort to become legal as moribund as the aforementioned former provision of U.S. immigration law.