OK, so I am getting overwhelmed with a flood of 2017 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.
By the way. VERY IMPORTANT. If you have to ask me more than one question – please NUMBER the questions to make my work easier.
Is there a deadline to submit my DS260?
There is no official deadline to submit your DS260. People will continue to submit DS260s for DV2017 cases well into 2017. 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 2 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 900 in OC region for example (where the highest case number will probably be around 1000) 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. A low number means the case could be interviewed earlier.
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. However, 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).
When will KCC send the first 2NLs?
The first 2NLs (the interview notification) for DV2017 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.