We have many DV2018 selectees with very basic questions. Let me try and address the most frequent ones here in the hope that people will read this. If you ask a question and I give you a link to this page, it is to indicate that your question can be answered by reading this page and using some common sense. Please use the links in the title at the top of this page for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and the DV lottery guide. There is LOTS of information available on my site – so a look through the FAQ and guide will take care of most questions.
By the way. VERY IMPORTANT. You can ask questions on any blog post I write. If you have to ask me a series of questions – please NUMBER the questions to make my work easier.
First – two links to help those still not able to check their entry:
And for those that cannot submit their DS260
Is there a deadline to submit my DS260?
There is no official deadline to submit your DS260. People will continue to submit DS260s for DV2018 cases well into 2018. Submissions as late as April or perhaps even May of next year will still get processed in time.
How long does it take to process the DS260?
Based on the past years (since the DS260 was introduced), we can be pretty confident in the following info.
The actual processing time of the DS260 is quite short – probably 3 to 4 weeks. However, because of the volume of DS260s that are received starting at the beginning of May, a backlog builds up very quickly. You can think of this as a queue. In the two past years, that queue or backlog has meant that DS260s were taking 4 to 5 months to process (obviously most of that time being spent waiting). So – for those that submit their DS260 in the first week or two after the initial draw, the processing time will be quite short. Then a backlog will build and processing times will build up to 4 or 5 month delay. Then, early next year, processing times will reduce again to being a few weeks.
Does every DS260 take the same time to process?
No. There is some background checks required on each case that vary according to the situation of the selectees. The precise details of the checks are not published, but we can guess they are mainly about ensuring security of the USA. That means they communicate with agencies and foreign governments about the details you provide on the DS260. Some countries co-operate with the USA, some don’t. In countries that don’t co-operate you can expect DS260 will take longer. So, some cases are very simple, and some not so simple. If a selectee was raised in Western Europe, works in an office and has never travelled to certain high risk countries we can expect the DS260 processing (once the case is ACTUALLY processed, not queued) to be quick. If on the other hand someone has travel history around certain countries in the middle East or lists their work as “Nuclear weapons specialist”, well they can expect the US government to take longer over those checks.
So – never assume that all DS260s submitted on the same day will complete processing on the same day. There will be variations.
When will I be interviewed? Is my number safe?
OK, first of all. Processing timing is mainly based on your case number, and where that number is ranked within each region. So – if you are case number 2000 in OC region for example (where the highest case number will probably be around 24XX) you are near the back of the line and can expect a long wait before being interviewed. However, that same number in AF region (where the highest case number could be 50,000 to 60000) would be very low. So “low or high” is relative within the region.
As it is very early in the year, I don’t currently know the highest case numbers in each region. Based on numbers I have seen the highest number in each region are at least these
So -= there is no need to ask me if your number is low or high. Compare your number to the highest numbers here – and apply some logical thinking.
Cases are called for interview in case number order, so a low number means the case could be interviewed earlier in the process *IF* the DS260 is processed.
HOWEVER, if a selectee with a low case number submits their DS260 late, it is possible their case will not be scheduled until a later month than their case number would suggest. No case will be scheduled unless the DS260 has been processed. In the case of someone with a low number who missed their “current” month because of DS260 backlogs, their case will be scheduled once the DS260 is processed. In some cases people might actually want to use this delay to cause a later interview (for instance if someone wants to get married prior to interview).
UPDATE: After this article was first published the government published data on how many selectees there are across regions. That allowed me to do some analysis, and I published some thoughts here: DV2018 Selectee Numbers
When will interviews start and how will I be told of my interview date?
No DV2018 interviews will happen before October 2017. DV2018 interviews will continue until September 30th 2018. So stop packing your bags. It’s a long process. Interview scheduled are notified in month batches about 6 weeks before the interview month. The notification is called the 2NL.
When will KCC send the first 2NLs?
The first 2NLs (the interview notification) for DV2018 will go out in late August. That will be for cases that have been processed AND are current for October. Then 2NLs will come in a monthly schedule, also late in each month. So – late in September for November interviews and so on.
When are the visa bulletins published?
The visa bulletins are published around the 8th to the 15th of each month. If you call KCC they will always respond that it is released on the 15th. They are not “late” until the 16th. Usually I get people lamenting “the sky is falling” and “why are they so late” around the 10th or 11th. That will happen every month – and no matter how many times I explain, people are impatient.
How do KCC schedule the cases?
Roughly speaking all interviews are spread out over the year, starting in October and ending the following September. KCC release numbers via the visa bulletin to say which case numbers can be interviewed. Check out this article to understand how to read the visa bulletin.
KCC will increase the number made current on each region at a pace that ensures they have enough interviews to match the embassy capacity during each month.
So – to take an example. If OC had a highest case number of 1000, we could roughly expect to see that number increase by 100 each month. However, due to DS260 backlogs (remember no case can be scheduled UNTIL the DS260 is processed), KCC might release a higher number to start with (for October and November for instance) and slow down later. So – we might see OC start at 200 in October, be 350 in November and then increase by 50 to 75 each month for a while.
The same thing will happen in each region. This effect is going to be particularly pronounced in AF region where selectees typically take a long time to submit their forms. So – AF will start with a high VB number. Many will rejoice and say how fast things are moving and then those same people will be confused when the pace decreases later on. I have tried to explain this many times, but people just don’t seem to understand the point. It ends up being mysterious and frustrating. So – people need to be ready to be patient.
You can look at the historical visa bulletin numbers from previous years to get an idea how things work. However, every year is different, so I would suggest only taking a look at DV2016 or DV2015 to try and anticipate when your number will be scheduled for interview. Please do that rather than asking me to predict your interview date. Use some judgment and common sense to allow me to spend my time on people that need help with more critical questions.
To encourage people to look for themselves I have taken the 2015 and 2016 numbers and plotted them onto charts. So – look for your number in your region and you can guess roughly when your case will be ready for interview.