As most of you already know the DV2020 selectee numbers were released this morning. As I was analyzing the numbers I created a video that explained my analysis and ideas about the numbers but I also wanted to explain with an article which is easier to translate – so here goes.

Just as last year, the “August” visa bulletin contained the selectee numbers per country for DV2020. Please do have a look if you want to see selectees per country. The announcement of the selectees gave a total of 83,884 selectees. That number INCLUDES derivatives – meaning a family of four is 4 of the 83,884. Since a principal winner is the only one that gets a case number, the case number count is less than the selectee count. That is normal.

Since the results were released in May, we have been seeing some VERY high case numbers reported in all regions – and that meant that this year was different in some way to previous years. It really meant one of two things:

Possibility 1: Either there were a massive number of selectees for the year (meaning people with high case numbers would miss out).


Possibility 2: There were a “normal number of selectees but with a lot more HOLES in the numbers for some reason.

We now KNOW that the answer is Possibility 2. Let me explain.

What are holes? Well they are gaps between actual case numbers. So we could for example see the following sequence for a region like this:

2020AF1, 2020AF4, 2020AF5 , 2020AF7, 2020AF8 , 2020AF10

That would mean there are “holes at number 2, 3, 6, and 9. That would be a holes rate of 4 out of 10 (40%), or sometimes described as a density rate of 6 out of 10 (60%).

The holes are created during the draw process. You can read my article about holes theory here, but put simply, cases are numbered consecutively to start with but some cases are immediately disqualified before being notified that they are winners. The reasons for the disqualification vary, but could be bad photos, fraudulent entries and so on. Those people simply see the “not selected” message – the same as every other non selectee case.

Holes are always within the case numbers, but the amount of holes varies by region, and in fact varies by country. So – a country that has high agent activity, high fraud levels can probably expect to see high number of cases disqualified in a typical year – so that country would over contribute to the hole count per region. Because they are holes though we cannot prove which country the holes came from.

There is also a second reason for holes. Some countries have tremendously high number of entries within a given region. In some cases KCC deliberately cutoff that country during the draw process. So – for example, in Asia, Nepal and Iran usually account for about 80% of the entries for the whole region. So – at low number ranges we see Nepal and Iran would get about 80% of the cases between them, and as soon as they hit some artificial limit imposed by the people conducting the draw, we see a huge jump in holes, and a reduction in case density. This can be easily seen in this data from DV2018:

The two arrows show where the density dropped as Nepal and Iran became limited. The blue color represents holes – each vertical bar representing 100 case numbers. So – you can see the holes rate had been less than 10% and then at just above case number 7000 the holes rate jumped to around 70% or more. That is a good visualization of the effect of a country restriction during the draw process. Nepal and Iran are normally restricted each year – and Africa has several countries, as does Europe. I have described this in previous years and identified the countries.

So – now, hopefully you understand what holes are – so back to DV2020. By performing some simple math we can take the selectee numbers announced and figure out roughly how many cases there are per region, and by using some assumed highest case numbers we can estimate the holes rate.

So – if the selectee number had been very high (like 125,000 selectees or more). We would have instantly known this was an overselected year. BUT since the numbers are low we need to consider why we are seeing high case numbers and low selectee numbers.

Here is my spreadsheet with some rough calculations. I have shown how I worked out these numbers in my video I posted today, which you can see here.

So – in the spreadsheet above the selectee count is the official number, released today. The derivative rate is the average number of people on each case number (guessed, based on previous years). There is then a column labeled cases which is the official selectee number divided by the derivative rate. Then taking the “reported” highest case numbers I have heard we can deduce what holes or density rate we have in DV2020.

Taking a simple example, or OC region – I estimate 835 cases, and there are case numbers up to about 3000. So – if the 835 cases are spread over 3000 numbers that is a density of about 28% (holes rate of 72%). To put that in perspective OC would normally have a holes rate of about 7%. So – this means that numbers that sound high, are not as high as you think.

For YEARS I have been frustrated trying to make people understand that the case number is not that important, but rather how many people are in front of you. I have always told people to NOT compare one year to another in terms of VB progress, because each year is different. As the OC example shows the numbers sound higher this year – but selectee numbers are actually quite low. So this year, finally, people will understand my point. An OC case of 2000 in this year is “safer” than a case number 1000 in previous recent years.

Now, in other regions we see the same thing. Density of each region is low. This should give hope to people with high case numbers and whilst it is too early to be certain of what will happen in DV2020, it is clear that VB progress will be faster than recent years and we are likely to see high case numbers get interviews.

Now – we do not know what has caused the extra holes this year. I believe it must be a new security process (for instance identifying duplicate entries or fraud), or perhaps they have made good on their promise to disqualify cases where people used photos from a previous years DV lottery entry. I don’t know for sure. I am CERTAIN though that there is some new factor being used to create more holes prior to the May announcement.

I do NOT want to answer hundreds of times this same question – “is my XXXX number safe”. PLEASE understand how tiring that can be. So – read this next bit very carefully.

You have a high case number if your number is within the “top” 20% or so compared to the highest case numbers reported (shown above). So – if the reported data is correct these would be the “high number” ranges.

AF – 60000 and above.
AS – 24000 and above
EU – 45000 and above
OC – 2400 and above
SA – 3100 and above.

If your case number is UNDER these numbers DO NOT ask me “am I safe”. You will annoy me. Really. I waste a huge amount of time with this type of question and it is very frustrating. If you ask me this, I will point you to this article, if you are lucky. If you are not lucky you can expect some choice words…

If your case number is in those high number ranges, you might have “some” risk. I don’t know how much risk. I cannot predict it yet. I don’t think we will know until summer 2020 – so please understand I cannot be certain. You”. simply have to “wait and see”.

It is possible that some regions will go current (meaning ALL numbers can be interviewed) – but again – please don’t ask me to guess “chances” of that – these questions are really frustrating and a waste of my time. Everyone needs to understand that a lot of things can happen over the course of a year. You are all supposed to be adults, and with a High school education – so don’t act like needy children please.

Now – the other questions I tend to get are “when will I be interviewed. That is also a waste of my time. I am not some sort of guessing 8 ball game. Just exercise some common sense and some patience. The processing is spread of the year. If your case number is low, you could be interviewed in the early months. If your case number is mid range it will be later. If your case number is in the high ranges, it will be June/July of next year before you know your fate. SO WAIT.

I have also been asked if these numbers now make a second draw possible. Well maybe. Just maybe. If that happens, a few (very few) more cases would be added in about September/October.