Hamed Almaqrami v. Michael Pompeo

United States Court of Appeals FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT Argued December 14, 2018 Decided August 13, 2019 No. 18-5156 HAMED SUFYAN OTHMAN ALMAQRAMI, ET AL., APPELLANTS v. MICHAEL R. POMPEO, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF STATE AND JOHN DOES, #1-#50, IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE CONSULAR OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR ISSUING DIVERSITY VISAS, APPELLEES Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:17-cv-01533) Benjamin M. Eidelson argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were Matthew E. Price, Max J. Minzner, Yolanda Rondon, Arthur B. Spitzer, and Scott Michelman. Scott G. Stewart, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellees. On the brief were Gisela A. Westwater and Erez Reuveni, Assistant Directors, and Joshua S. Press, Trial Attorney. Before: TATEL and GRIFFITH, Circuit Judges, and WILLIAMS, Senior Circuit Judge. 2 Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge GRIFFITH. GRIFFITH, Circuit Judge: Plaintiffs were offered the chance to apply for a select number of “diversity visas.” The government never granted them visas, and the statutory deadline to do so has now passed. But this case is not moot because whether the district court retains the authority to award plaintiffs relief is a merits question. We reverse the district court’s decision to the contrary. I A In general, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to come to the United States must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States; it only confers the right to travel to a port of entry and apply for admission to enter the country. 8 U.S.C. § 1201(h). Failure to satisfy certain requirements in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) will render an alien ineligible for a visa and ineligible for entry. For example, an alien cannot receive a visa if she has “a communicable disease of public health significance,” and if she contracts such a disease after receiving her visa, she will be denied entry. 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(1)(A). Other parts of the INA apply to only visas or entry. The Secretary of State may, for instance, decline to issue a visa to an alien who abused a position of power to expropriate American property, id. § 1182d, and the Attorney General may decide that certain aliens must pay bonds before entering the country, id. § 1183. Each fiscal year, the State Department grants approximately 50,000 diversity immigrant visas to individuals 3 from countries underrepresented in the immigration process, which allow recipients who are granted admission to enter the country as lawful permanent residents who may live and work here indefinitely. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1151(e), 1153(c)(1); Pls.’ Br. 4 & n.1. 1 The process by which the State Department awards diversity visas is competitive and complicated. An applicant must first apply for and win the diversity visa “lottery.” Pls.’ Br. 5; see 8 U.S.C. § 1153(e); 22 C.F.R. § 42.33(b)-(c). A lottery winner or “selectee” ...

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