A few days before the VB numbers were released I got “early notice” of the VB numbers and published them in this article. Many people doubted the numbers were real, partly because they were low numbers for several regions (all apart from AF). I speculated in that post about why those numbers might be so low, and as we now know, those numbers were confirmed as the official numbers. Well today I called KCC and confirmed my speculation was accurate. KCC have changed DS260 processing for this year to reduce the backlog (delays) we have seen in previous years. So – this article is to explain that further.

First – let me explain what was meant by “backlog”. Since the DS260 was introduced, people would immediately start submitting their DS260s starting the day that results were announced. Because the “you have been selected” letter says to respond quickly, it created an impression that there was some sort of race to submit the DS260. That isn’t really true – but it gave KCC a problem. Within the first couple of weeks after the announcement, a huge number of DS260s were submitted – for all winners across all regions and all case numbers. So – for illustration purposes, let’s imagine that 5,000 DS260’s were submitted in the first week, and that rate continued for the first couple of months. Let’s assume KCC could only start processing 1000 to 2000 per week. Within a few weeks a backlog of DS260s had built up – and by August there were many cases that had low case numbers, but were waiting in turn to be processed, because they submitted a few weeks after May. What happened is that those cases could not be scheduled for interview – and as a consequence, KCC had to release a larger VB number than they would have needed if all the DS260s were somehow processed.

So – the first few VBs were higher numbers and everyone was full of confidence about how fast numbers were progressing. Then, after 3 or 4 months we saw the VB pace would slow down. Some months we even saw NO increase for some regions. People panicked. I tried to explain and warn that this would happen – but nevertheless people remained confused – and saw no “logic” to the way the VB number was increasing. In fact, for a time (when I had access to the CEAC data) I was able to calculate the VB progress with remarkable accuracy. The VB was driven by how many interviews could be accommodated within a region (with KCC trying to space out processing over most of the year).   One of the factors I had to calculate was how many interview slots would be taken each month by “backlog” cases – so the backlog had a very large influence on VB case number progress (pace).

Now – KCC have found a way to give priority to processing “lower” case numbers. So – if they received a small number of DS260s, they could process as the cases were received – but if they have too many cases they can choose to delay processing on high case numbers and instead give “priority” to cases at the lower end of the scale. After all – why rush to process a high case number when that case could not be interviewed until next summer anyway. Better to process the lower case numbers that could become current in the first few months of the year. This approach is very advantageous and smart. It also means that a high case number DS260 can make changes for life events (for example to add a newborn or change address), BEFORE the case has even started processing. This is a much better outcome.

Now – this does NOT mean there is any change to the basic rule of interview scheduling. To get scheduled a case must be current (lower than the VB number for the region/country) *AND* the DS260 is processed. A high case number submitted early cannot be scheduled early under the new processing method – and could not be scheduled early under the old method. However, a low case number submitted a little late won’t now have to be delayed months because of backlogs. So – case number order has become “fairer” through this new method.

I’m not sure exactly how KCC are prioritizing. There is a chance that the method has some teething problems and won’t work well in all cases to avoid backlog delays. But – this is a good change in my opinion. It is also nice to have it confirmed as the reason the VB numbers were so low.