The Diversity Visa application process is a constant source of confusion for applicants and non-applicants alike. People are usually puzzled by the workings of KCC, which leads to never-ending inquiries. Moreover, many of those who try to provide information on the subject actually add to that confusion. But it should really not be that way.
After a DV entrant checks his / her result and sees that they have been selected, they apply for a Diversity Visa by filling out and subsequently submitting the online DS-260 Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application form. The submission of the DS-260 form is what makes a selectee an (official) applicant for a United States Diversity Immigrant Visa.
Note: The DV APPLICATION process (discussed in this article) MUST NOT be confused with the DV ENTRY process.
The conditions to meet, in order to be attended to
In this article, I’ m going to explain how the system put in place works to attend to the various DV applications submitted to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). To do that, let me spell out a number of (current) realities that apply to the application process:
1. Only selectees/cases that have submitted their online DS-260 Application are considered for “further processing” by KCC;
2. DV selectees are “placed” in “regional queues,” beginning at the lowest, and ending at the highest case number in their region;
3. (Recently added) Selectees in the regional queues must have sent in their “required documents” to KCC as one of the conditions to meet in order to be ‘attended to’;
4. The final condition for a selectee to be attended to is when his / her case number becomes current i.e. when it is BELOW the cut-off of the current month. Provision for interview in a given month is made only for cases that are current.
5. The State Department establishes up to what case number should be interviewed from each region every month. That’s where the Visa Bulletin (VB) comes in. It shows cut-offs for each region on a monthly basis. A cut-off is a number that establishes the “interview range” for a given region in a given month. In other words, it determines the case numbers that are/will be current in that month. So if your Case Number is the same as or higher than the cut-off number for your region for a given month, you must wait for the release of the next Visa Bulletin to see if it would become current.
With the above in mind, let’s get straight into things.
It all starts in August
At the beginning of August, KCC start to attend to applications in each regional queue for the upcoming DV program which begins in October. By then, interview scheduling concerns only the lowest case numbers in each region (the lowest case numbers are the ones interviewed in October, at the beginning of the program year).
Because of that, selectees (from the results published in May) with the lowest case numbers within their region must fill out and submit their online DS-260 Application AND scan and send in their required documents to KCC before July ends, in order for their case to be processed in August and scheduled for interview in October.
At about the same time (in August), the State Department publishes in the September Visa Bulletin the cut-off to apply in October for each region. The release of the September VB (done in August) is immediately followed by the sending out of notification letters for October interviews to those applicants who (1) properly filled out and submitted the DS-260, (2) whose required documents have been properly sent in and processed, and (3) whose case numbers fall BELOW the October cut-off published for their region.
An Example, for Better Understanding
To explain this better, let us consider the following numbers as being the lowest selectee case numbers within a given region: 15, 26, 45, 63, 91, 100, 125, 133, 138, 149, 162, 175, 186, 198, 200, 202, 209, etc. And let’s say we’re in August, and the cut-off to apply in October for that region is 200. Let’s also suppose that numbers 15, 91, and 125 have not submitted their DS-260, while numbers 63 and 162 have submitted theirs, but have not sent in their required documents. (The rest properly submitted both their DS-260 and required documents, and had the latter processed successfully).
As it relates to October interviews for that region, KCC will only schedule the cases who have met ALL three conditions listed above, beginning with Case Number 26 (not 15), followed by Number 45, then Numbers 100, 133, 138, 149, 175, 186 and finally 198 (the October cut-off being set at 200). Scheduling of October interviews comes to an end by the end of August.
Cut-off numbers increase as the fiscal year progresses
When September begins, attention moves to November interviews, beginning at the cut-off numbers for October (Case Number 200 in our example) and including higher case numbers up to, but BELOW the new cut-offs established for November (higher than the previous), and which will appear in the October VB published early September. NL2s for November are subsequently sent out up to the end of September.
The process of cut-off numbers being revised upward to include higher case numbers than those attended to the month before goes on month after month, resulting in cases in all regions being spread out and consecutively attended to throughout the fiscal year.
The lower the case number, the better.
Having a low case number is an advantage to the applicant. As the program year goes on, every time a selectee with a low case number who was previously skipped (for not meeting the conditions) eventually meets the first two prerequisites, KCC ‘stop’ and attend to their case before continuing with the queue.
Back to our example. Let’s say, while KCC are working on September cases, Case Number 91 then submits their DS-260 and sends in their required documents; and Case Number 162’s required documents come in. KKC would “return” and attend to Cases 91 and 162 (alongside cases 200, 202, 209, etc.), to the disadvantage of cases toward the end of the queue. Remember, the more the cases/applicants who receive a Diversity visa before you, the lesser the number of Diversity visas remaining available for you.
The higher the case number, the riskier.
That is the downside of having a very high case number in your region. Every previously skipped case that later meets the requirements is prioritized, thereby reducing the chances for cases with very high case numbers to be attended to.
Many think that those who meet up with the first two conditions early enough are “rewarded” with early service, while “late-comers” are penalized. But it doesn’t work that way. Lower case numbers who meet the conditions are always prioritized over higher ones.
The process never ends
The process of attending to cases, VB release, sending out of NL2s as well as conduct of interviews goes on nonstop throughout the year, with each case interviewed being attended to based on the above-mentioned conditions, and then notified TWO MONTHS EARLIER (counting months, not days).
In October, the process moves another step: processing (i.e. examining and scheduling) cases to be interviewed in December. The November VB which is released in October, informs applicants of the December “interview range”. As that is ongoing, interviews for October which had been scheduled two months earlier – in August – are held in embassies/consulates around the world.
In November: KCC attend to cases for January; release of the VB for December (showing cut-offs to apply in January); sending out of NL2s for January interviews; while November interviews (which were scheduled in September) are taking place.
In December: attending to cases for February; release of the VB for January (showing cut-offs to apply in February); sending out of NL2s for February interviews; while December interviews (which were scheduled in October) are taking place.
In January: attending to cases for March; release of the VB for February (which shows cut-offs to apply in March); sending out of NL2s for March interviews; while January interviews (which were scheduled in November) are taking place.
In February: attending to cases for April; release of the VB for March (which shows cut-offs to apply in April); sending out of NL2s for April interviews; while February interviews (which were scheduled in December) are taking place.
What does “Current” mean in the VB?
Usually in the second half of the fiscal year, however, it happens that there is no backlog of DV cases – for a region or some regions – to be attended to at KCC. In other words, after having processed cases on hand, KCC realize that, if they apply a cut-off as they should normally do, not sufficient cases will be “on file” for an upcoming month. In that case, they accept – for processing – any application from the region(s) concerned (including those with high case numbers) that have met the requirements. In that case, case number no longer counts. We say the region(s) concerned has (have) become (gone) CURRENT.
This scenario somewhat favors those with high case numbers who fill out and submit their DS-260 and send in their required documents relatively early enough. That was the case of a client of ours who left for the States a couple of weeks ago. While he was on his way to the States, I was quite surprised to learn by means of a comment on this site that a selectee with a lower case number than his was still expecting to receive her NL2.
This tells us that the lady met both requirements late in the fiscal year, whereas our client’s case had been attended to months earlier. That is why I generally advise selectees with relatively high case number to meet up with the requirements relatively soon enough so that when their region goes current, they would “jump the queue”.
A Caution to Some Cases with VERY High Case Numbers
Those whose case numbers are observed to be quite high in their region AND who foresee themselves applying for a non-immigrant visa in the future are however advised to be cautious in submitting their DS-260. As mentioned earlier, submitting a DS-260 equates to expression of intent to immigrate to the United States. As such, cases with DS-260 (and required documents) successfully submitted, but who eventually end up NOT being invited for interview because the anual visa quota ran out before they were ‘served’, get ‘on file’ for having expressed an intent to immigrate.
Such cases could easily be denied non-immigrant visas by consular officers fearing that they may use the non-immigrant visa ‘opportunity’ to ‘actualize’ their original intent to immigrate. That is for applicants with very high case number who intend to visit the U. S. in the future.
Cut-Off Vs “Current” Status
In the second half of the fiscal year, at one point or another , the Visa Bulletin shows either specific cut-offs or “current”. It all depends on whether sufficient cases are on file for the month concerned or not, respectively.
In March: KCC attend to cases for May; release of the VB for April (showing either cut-offs or “current” status to apply in May); sending out of NL2s for May interviews; while March interviews (which were scheduled in January) are taking place.
In April: attending to cases for June; release of the VB for May (showing either cut-offs or “current” status to apply in June); sending out of NL2s for June interviews; while April interviews (which were scheduled in February) are taking place.
In May: attending to cases for July; release of the VB for June (showing either cut-offs or “current” status to apply in July); sending out of NL2s for July interviews; while May interviews (which were scheduled in March) are taking place.
In June: attending to cases for August; release of the VB for July (showing either cut-offs or “current” status to apply in August); sending out of NL2s for August interviews; while June interviews (which were scheduled in April) are taking place.
In July: attending to cases for September (the final cases for that fiscal year’s program); release of the VB for August (showing either cut-offs or “current” status to apply in September); sending out of NL2s for September interviews; while July interviews (which were scheduled in May) are taking place.
And in August, the process resumes for the next fiscal year. On and on, this process continues.
That is how the Diversity Immigrant Visa application process works based on the system put in place.
Knowing your interview month
Now, when it comes to predictions concerning the month in which a specific case number is expected to be interviewed, it is reasonable to refer to the Visa Bulletin of recent years to see in which month numbers in the vicinity of that case number had their interview scheduled. You may read more on the subject in our article on the Visa Bulletin.
Hope this helps in dissipating doubts you may have had.