I’ve had to answer a number of questions regarding the effect COVID-19 is expected to have on the DV Lottery. I therefore decided to come up with this article intended to inform and encourage our readers in the wake of the spread of the deadly Virus.
Needless to go into the details of the pandemic because if you’re reading this post, it means you have internet connection, and consequently are aware of what’s currently being experienced around the world – at least to a certain extent.
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The Big Question
Will COVID-19 impact the Diversity Visa Lottery?
And the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, the Virus has already started having direct impact on the Program. For example, due to its effect, U.S. embassies and consulates in divers locations around the world have suspended visa services, with more expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.
Moreover, successful DV-2020 applicants from COVID-hit countries cannot emigrate to the U.S. presently due to the travel ban imposed on their countries.
As you may be aware, the DV Program involves different stages. Firstly, there’s the Entry period (early October to early November every year), followed by the Selection, then the Release of the Results, and finally the Application Process.
Possible Effects on the Different Stages
The Entry Period
The last Entry period (October 2 – November 5, 2019) was before the COVID-19 outbreak, and the next (early October – early November 2020) will be at a time when the Virus is expected to have been defeated. The Virus did not/will not have any impact on the Entry period.
Selection for the DV Program involves a number of processes spanning several months, from November to early May. That’s the time of the year we’re currently in when it comes to DV-2021, a time when the Virus is wreaking havoc. The DV-2021 program has already gone far into selecting winners. The normal procedure has duly been applied up to present. The Virus did not / will not cause KCC to change selection procedures.
With fewer weeks remaining to the date set for the release of the results, selections are expected to be completed with no or very low impact from the current global health crisis. In other words, those selected by KCC will eventually be published as the DV-2021 selectees; the list of selectees will not be altered because of the current health crisis.
But every other aspect of the Lottery taking effect from now till the complete overcoming of the Virus is highly likely to be impacted.
The Release of the Results
May 5th or Later?
I have been asked for my views concerning a possible change of the set date of release of the DV-2021 results. And this is what I think.
I do not think that the release of the result is going to be changed from May 5, 2020. And that’s because of a couple of reasons, one of which I’ve already stated earlier: we’re well into the selection period, and as such, I don’t expect any massive impact to the process in the remaining weeks.
In other words, the work load still on hand to make possible the release of the result by May 5 can be handled between now and then – as long as KCC so desire – even if they were to reduce staff due to the pandemic.
The next reason why I think that the May 5 date will not be changed is because the release of the results does not require the participation of parties external to KCC like embassy staff, selectees themselves, etc.
If publishing the results depended on other participants, it would have been hampered by the restrictions on those participants by wider measures put into place to curtail the spread of the disease, as is the case of the final stage discussed below.
Thirdly, the actual process of DV-2021 begins in October 2020 when the Virus is expected to have been contained. Everything before then (the filling of the DS-260, sending-in of required documents, and even receiving of NL-2) can all be carried out virtually. Releasing the result on May 5 will therefore not obstruct the rest of the DV-2021 process.
The Other Side of the Coin
The above however in no way imposes on KCC to live by that date. There’s one factor which has the propensity of delaying the release of the results. And it’s the current application process of DV-2020 cases. If by chance we get to learn eventually that the DV-2021 results are postponed, the first and foremost factor we’ll turn to for answers will be the ongoing suspension of DV-2020 interviews.
In other words, KCC may say, since DV-2021 application process is not starting immediately, why create more anxiety? Why not deal with the backlog of 2020 cases and later bring in the 2021s? It’s this reasoning by KCC that might cause a possible postponement of the DV-2021 results from May 5 to a later date, and not the impact of COVID-19 in itself.
Now to the Application process
Of all the DV stages, this is the one that actually never ceases under normal circumstances. To know why, read our article on the stages involved in the DV Program.
The application process runs throughout the year. As applicants are being notified by KCC and cases are being turned over to relevant embassies/consulates, others are awaiting notification, while some are undergoing their interviews, with others waiting to be interviewed. The reality makes KCC to never sleep – so to speak.
And that’s where the biggest problem in the DV Program is with respect to COVID-19. U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are suspending visa services in COVID-hit countries, as I mentioned earlier, and that’s going to continue for some time.
Will KCC Continue Normal Operations?
Now, with this reality, will KCC continue to operate normally? Certainly not! KCC are the ones who schedule applicants interviews. So with interviews being disrupted in many parts of the world, they won’t continue scheduling more interviews.
Why continue to schedule cases when you can clearly see that henceforth it’s not working? Since the ones that have been/are being scheduled aren’t holding, there’s obviously going to be a change in their work plan, notably in the form of a sort of slowing down – and in some cases, suspension – in the scheduling of interviews.
It’s like there’s going to be a generalized suspension of DV-2020 application process until the COVID situation begins to settle globally.
At the end of the day, KCC will have to do “double work” with many cases, rescheduling those they previously scheduled, whenever conditions in the regions improve.
Other Possible Effects
With the above, I’m not sure if any region will go current as is usually the case around this time of the fiscal year. As you may know, a region goes current when KCC have no backlogs of cases from that region. With the prevailing situation, however, there’s certainly going to be backlogs of cases from most – if not all – regions, possibly up to the end of the fiscal year. So, will they “open up” the regions? I doubt it.
Additionally, the contents as seen in the monthly VB may well change in the upcoming VB. What’s the need of publishing interview ranges for the regions that will almost certainly not apply? When there seems to be some certainty with respect to the conduct of interviews, then we can expect VBs to later return to normal.
Lastly, there is a high possibility of a second DV-2021 draw. A second draw comes about when there is a “low” number of cases selected during the first draw (in May) or when those selected with low case numbers do not actively pursue their cases in the months leading to the beginning of the new fiscal year.
This second scenario is highly likely owing to the fact that the disruption to lives worldwide caused by COVID-19 will obviously prevent many applicants with low case numbers from pursuing their cases immediately after the results are released, which under normal circumstances means a second draw.
However, KCC may decide and act otherwise, giving such low number cases the “benefit of the doubt”, if they come to see the initial delay in pursuit of their cases as a direct effect of COVID-19.
We’re Still Lucky!
Though the effects of the Virus are unwanted, we should still be glad that we’re still just around the middle of Fiscal Year 2020. With a little over six months remaining, there’s still sufficient time in the 2020 Program for the Virus to be overcome and for DV-2020 applicants to reclaim their visa application process.
Had it been close to the end of the fiscal year, tensions would have been running high, and good number of applicants would have been frustrated by the September 30 deadline, after which we’ll naturally be steping into the next fiscal year, and consequently, the next DV-Program.
No Need to Worry
There’s no need to worry, for those who were successful in their interviews, but haven’t emigrated to the U. S. The same goes for those who have been scheduled, but haven’t had their interview, as well as those who are yet to receive their NL2. The DV Program is a well-coordinated activity operated and run by very conscious and reasonable individuals and U. S. Government agencies.
With that, we don’t expect visa denials as a result of the Virus. Neither will the Lottery be canceled abruptly because of the pandemic. Instead, there will be rescheduling of cases not interviewed, re-issuance of visas previously issued and extension of entry dates – due to the prevailing circumstances – hopefully before the lawful deadline of DV-2020 expires on September 30.
There’s therefore no need to panic. All you need to do as a 2020 applicant, is to simply contact the embassy where you have / had your interview and alert them to your case, and you can rest assured that you would be duly informed and promptly contacted when things get better on the global stage.
In addition, – and this also goes to 2021 hopefuls – you need to exercise patience, while taking appropriate life-saving measures to protect yourself and those around you against the pandemic, least you succumb to its cruelty without realizing your long-sought-after American dream.
Best wishes to all!