This post is intended to inform the DV2018 selectees with information about the lottery. It will be a long post, so take your time and read it well if you want to understand the lottery process a little better.

As expected, the DV2018 selectee numbers have been published in the latest visa bulletin.  So – if you are interested, you can see how many people have been selected in each country. The selectee number includes derivatives (family) who are included on the principal selectees case. The global and regional quotas (the 50,000 Green Cards available)  also includes derivatives – so a family of 5 takes 5 out of the 50,000.

In the visa bulletin we have several important pieces of information. First the number of entries – nearly 15 million entries (23 million people including family). That is the highest entry count I have seen, so if you were selected you have been very lucky. Then we have the selectee counts per country and the total for global selectees – 115,968. So – 115,968 people were selected from 23 million people – an average of 1 in 200.

Countries do not get individual quotas either in the draw, or as cases are approved. So – some countries have less selectees because there were a lower number of entries. The draw is random within each region – entries from some countries are not given preference over other countries. There is however a rule that states that no single country can take more than 7% of the global visa count. So that means no one country can receive more than (approximately) 3500 visas. That is a MAXIMUM number, not an allocation. Realistically, the only countries that have a likely chance of hitting that limit is Nepal and Egypt. Both those countries have high selectee counts AND a high approval rate. Other countries could have just as many selectees, but will not have such a high approval rate. It is for that reason that Nepal and Egypt will probably have a limit in place in the final VB of DV2017 – because at some point, KCC predict the 7% limit will be hit, so they stop inviting selectees to interview. I do not know where that number will end for DV2017 or DV2018 – so if anyone asks, they will get the “wait and see” answer.

Some countries have been “limited” in the draw already. So for example, Ghana has probably had far more than 1.5 million entries – probably over 2 million people including family members. However we can see they “only” received 3549 selectees (whereas they should have had around 10,000 selectees). Other countries show the same effect. These countries are Ghana, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nepal, Iran, Russia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine, and most likely Liberia and Cameroon. This shows that the draw process is limiting the number of cases or selectees that any one country can receive. The limit is around 4500 selectees, or about 3000 distinct cases. Countries limited in this way have all their selectees concentrated in lower case numbers. At some point the selection process hits the 4500selectee/3000 cases limit and stops selecting people from those countries. So – it will not be a surprise to find that, for example Ghana cases are all in the first 15,000/20000 case numbers. Once the country is stopped, the remaining cases for that country create “holes” which is a case number being skipped. I have explained this in several posts before – but this post explains the draw process and holes well. You will notice in that article that disqualified cases also create holes.

 

Where can I see the selectee numbers?

The visa bulletin that gives the per country selectee count can be seen here.

The regional selectee count is as follows (with DV2017 / DV2016 numbers for comparison).

 

AF – 49392 (38500 / 45034)

EU – 41706 (28500 / 27011)

AS – 15997 (13499 / 15002)

OC – 3863 (1450 / 1500)

SA – 4995 (1954 / 3000)

NA – 15

Total – 115,968

 

Why are there more selectees than visas available?

The government have determined to make around 50,000 Green Cards available through this program, and while they are not obliged to issue them all, they want to issue as many as possible. They know they have to select more people than they have spaces. This is because of the following:

  1. Some people won’t respond or pursue their opportunity.
  2. Some will submit their forms but not attend the interview.
  3. Some will attend the interview but be refused.
  4. Some will attend the interview and be placed on AP, but then not be able to get cleared before the end of the year.

So – KCC over select, having decided that is the best way to use all the available Green Cards. However, estimating how many “extra people” to select is difficult. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. This year, I believe they have selected too many people – and that means some people will miss out).

 

Why are there more selectees this year?

Each year USCIS (represented by KCC) decide how many selectees to announce. We have seen wild fluctuations in how many people they invite. Recent years have been like this:

  1. DV2013 – 105k
  2. DV2014 – 140k
  3. DV2015 – 125k (First year of electronic application form DS260)
  4. DV2016 – 91k
  5. DV2017 – 83k (plus second draw I estimate around 10k)
  6. DV2018 – 116k

The “ideal” number of selectees seems to be about 100k. However, we seem to be on a 2 year swing pattern. Two years the over select, then two years they under select and so on. DV2018 is a return to over selection after two calm years. Over selected years are stressful, because some people have to wait the whole year wondering whether they will get interviewed or not. I understand that feeling – I was in DV2014 – the most over selected year I know of. So – there was a lot of nervousness for many people and I remember that feeling well.

 

Will DV2018 go current?

No. Not all regions at least, and possibly no regions.

When we see current for a region it means there are more than enough visas remaining for remaining cases. So – everyone in a region that is current, can get an interview (except if the country is numerically stopped in the VB (Visa Bulletin) as has been the case in some years).

DV2016 and DV2017 went current because they had a low number of selectees. DV2018 is clearly different, and more like DV2015. I am certain that some regions cannot go current. I haven’t had time to work on numbers and I prefer to not predict final numbers these days, but some regions are obviously over selected. OC for instance is massively over selected – with case numbers up to OC26XX. In DV2015 the highest OC case number to get interviewed was 1489. So – there is obviously many OC cases that won’t be getting a chance for an interview.

SA also looks over selected, even with the additional increase in quota.

Other regions are  less easy to judge – partly because I don’t have the highest case numbers. Over the next few days I will use previous years data to try and confirm the highest case numbers selected – but at this point all I can say is that there must be some risk for AS, EU and AF regions highest case numbers. Now – I know I am going to be flooded by people asking “am I safe” – so let me say this. There is NO POINT in worrying or asking me if you are safe if your numbers are below these numbers.

AF45XXX (Egypt may have a cutoff)

EU37XXX

AS8XXX (Nepal could be considered safe below AS7000)

OC13XX

SA15XX

hose numbers are conservative numbers that I consider safe without much risk at all. It does not mean the cutoffs won’t be higher than those numbers, but if your number is above those numbers you might be at some risk. However, I don’t have a crystal ball and whilst I can calculate rough numbers based on historical information, I am not in a position to give accurate predictions. So – if you ask me for predictions, I will simply answer “wait and see”. If you ask me multiple times, you will find that I ignore you. So please – try and respect my time by reading the information I am providing here and accept that we have a long time (about 1 year) before we know how DV2018 will end.

As best as I can tell, through people reporting their case numbers to me and calculation based on this years selectee counts the maximum case numbers for selectees this year are in these ranges.

AF – Reported early 50,000 range, but I calculated the highest numbers should be around 60,000.

EU – Reported early 40,000 range, but I calculated the highest numbers should be around 45000.

AS – Reported 13XXX – and that seems a bit low for the selectee numbers released.

OC – Reported 26XX – and that seems about right for the selectee numbers released.

SA – Reported 25XX, but I calculated the highest numbers should be around 3000.

 

Will there be a second draw in DV2018?

No – as we can now see, they have more than enough selectees for each region – so there is no point in having a second draw.

 

So how many Green Cards can be given out to each region?

The DV program has 55,000 visas allocated each year. However, the NACARA program is given up to 5,000 of those visas, so we actually can see a number of visas awarded between 50,000 and 55,000. In practice a busy year will see as many as 52,000 to 53,000. DV2017 won’t even see that many awarded since there are not enough selectees in that year.

The visas are allocated to each region proportionally, based on a complex formula which uses populations in each region. So – the regions can receive the following percentages. The percentage would apply to the final global number – so you can apply these percentages to 50,000, and in the end they may give slightly more in each region if the global total goes slightly above 50,000 (by using some of the visas allocated to NACARA).

AF – 43.15%

EU – 36.63%

OC – 1.58%

AS – 15.61%

SA – 3.01%

This year a new country was made eligible – Ecuador in SA region. That means SA have had a small increase in available quota. Comparing quotas to DV2015, AF has slightly higher in DV2018, EU and AS are slightly reduced and OC is unchanged.

 

Differences that could affect this year.

DV2017 Photos.

Every year the instructions say to use a photo less than 6 months old. However in previous years, disqualification on the grounds of an old photo was rare because it was hard to p[rove the photo was old. However, in DV2018 instruction there was a new instruction that said “Submitting the same photograph that was submitted with last year’s entry (DV-2017) will result in disqualification.” Of course some people choose to not read the instructions or do read them but ignore them. So – I know we have lots of selectees that have re-used DV2017 photos. Theoretically, those entries could have been disqualified before results were announced, but they weren’t. So – there could be a directive to the embassies to disqualify those case, OR they might leave that up to the discretion of the embassy/CO. At this point, we have no idea how that will be handled – the COs may disqualify cases for that reason, or they may just ignore that instruction. But if cases are disqualified for that reason that could mean higher case numbers get a chance.

The Trump “Administration”

Trump has already clumsily tried to interfere with immigration matters since his term began. The “travel bans” are currently suspended by the courts, but the government could appeal, they might win (I don’t think so, but possible) or they could try to implement some other sort of ban. We just don’t know. Trying to predict what Trump will do is like trying to predict what a donkey will do next. The “donkey” probably has no idea himself.  However, he could have issued orders to immigration officials to be more stringent in background checks. That would slow processing, particularly on AP cases. So – this is a factor that could affect some regions (AF and AS).

Agents.

There has been a  staggering increase in entries in recent years. DV2015 had 14 million entries and derivatives, and by DV2018 that number has risen to 24 million. I know agents have been more active in several countries and have been registering people in huge numbers. In some countries the agents are honest and provide a helpful service with no ill intention. Nepal is like that.  BUT in more countries agents are ruining the lottery process. They register as many people as possible, often with little regard for accuracy in the eDV entry. They then blackmail winners by withholding the winning case number details unless the person agrees to pay a large additional fee or agrees to a sham marriage. Agents like that are scumbags. I advise everyone to steer clear of them. However, when agents are involved the chances of refusal are higher. In Ghana for instance around 80% of cases will be refused at interview. This is because agents gave bad information on the entry, then people try and produce fake documents and so on. So – Ghanaian agents swamp the lottery with over 2 million entries and then reduce the chances of approval through their involvement. So – since there are so many more entries this year, I am guessing that is agent involvement and I expect some countries to experience increased refusal rates.

 

Why do I often answer “read the instructions”?

I get a lot of questions from people on information they should know if they had read the official instructions on how to process the case. So – when I say “read the instructions” – it means read the link provided in the 1NL – which is also here.

 

Other points to note:

Much of what I write is speculation based on little information. The only way to be certain of the future is to wait until the future arrives!

 

Some terms I may use:

Derivative rate – how many people per case number. Varies by country and region, but world average is 1.6 – meaning each case accounts for the principal winner and 0.6 of a derivative.

Derivative growth rate – Winners get married and have children during the year. That increases the derivative rate, again varies by country and region, but this can mean a significant increase in applicants.

Density – Because of the limited countries, some countries have an increasing number of “holes” in upper number ranges. For instance, in AF region, there will only be 250 actual cases per 1000 case numbers at the highest number ranges (50,000 and above). So – the cases are less “dense”.

Non response rate – People that never submit their DS260.

No shows – people that submit their DS260 but don’t show up for interview.

AP – Administrative Processing. A period of waiting after interview when additional checks are made or missing documents obtained.

 

OK – hope that helps! If you don’t understand something above – please go back and read everything again slowly. There is LOTS of information here to understand, so it takes some time to sink in.