Reflecting on the Recent Entry Period
Last year, it took me an entire month after the Entry period to report my experience. This time around, it’s just a week.
An Unusual Occurrence
Early October to early November has been my busiest time of year for the past five years. During the DV Entry period, I would hardly communicate with friends, let alone write an article. This year was somehow different, especially at the beginning.
What had caused me to be quite busy during the early part of the Entry period in past years was the influx of entrants, many of whom believe that the sooner they enter the Lottery, the better chance of winning they have – which is actually not true. Others simply prefer submitting their entries early enough to avoid possible “headache” some time later in the process. However, this year’s case was different: turnout was particularly low during the initial part of the process.
The Reason Why
This low rate of initial participation was mainly due to the passport requirement introduced this year. Unlike in previous years when all high school graduates were eligible, and any of them could just walk into our offices to enter the Lottery, this year’s entrants were required to be in possession of a valid passport, resulting in a massive reduction in initial turnout numbers.
There were those who had never heard of the passport requirement, and had turned out to be a part of the Entry process. After being informed, the usual initial enthusiasm which characterizes entrants was immediately replaced by surprise and eventually, a sense of disappointment, when those concerned realized that they would have to wait for a whole year to see such a great opportunity return.
Additions to the Entry Form
The passport requirement meant provisions were made in the DV Entry form for passport related information: name (as) in passport, passport number, expiration date, and issuing country. The passport number field was the most intriguing: it had a smart component embedded. The space provided for the number of characters/digits was function of the actual length of each country’s passport number.
For example, if a country’s passport number is nine digits, only those nine digits – and nothing more – would enter the field. For another country with a ten-digit passport number, the field provided the exact 10-digit space. Quite a level of technology there, making it seemingly impossible for fraudsters to beat the new requirement by attempting entering false passport numbers as was rumored at some time during the Entry period.
Things Eventually Changed
The low turn out continued up to halfway into Entry period. We were still not so busy as in previous years. By then, I thought that would be the case up to the end. At the same time, there was news of passport services being overwhelmed in a few countries. Those wanting to be a part of the Entry process, but who did not meet the new requirement flocked to the relevant authorities to ensure they got passports – which remained impossible for many – even at a much higher cost.
The low participation rate experienced from the beginning however changed at some point after the halfway mark. It was like those with valid passports had come to realize that the clock was ticking; they had to come out before it was too late. In addition, those who were lucky enough to get new passports in previous weeks eventually came forth to be part of the process. There and then, turnout began to slowly but steadily increase.
Then began the nightmare
I suppose this later increase in participation was experienced in many places, ’cause immediately afterward, the official DV website gradually became unresponsive – and even impossible in many cases. Those who had submitted their entry just before this slowdown was experienced were the luckiest during the recent Entry period. Families with more than four or five entrants were the worst affected; single entrants, on the other hand, did not pose much of a problem.
For the remaining days, the situation did not improve. Whereas under normal circumstances, it would take just 10 or so minutes to submit an entry, the unresponsive website situation took us up to a couple of hours to achieve same in some cases.
Once faced with this reality, we immediately resulted to dealing with a select number of entries, thereby avoiding backlogs. Those who attempted to sign up late in the process were not accepted.
Why did they delay?
The delays this year resulted in many persons not entering the Lottery, even though some had valid passports. I was shocked to see people who had their passports long before the Entry period, appear in the very final days to enter the Lottery. What had they been waiting for? And sadly enough, the unresponsive official website did not allow us to accept their entries for submission. Guess they learned their lesson, and wouldn’t wait till the eleventh hour of the Entry period to try entering.
It’s because of such a situation that entrants are advised against entering the Lottery toward the end of the Entry period, because of – as in the expression used on the official website – “website delays,” which don’t always necessarily occur to the same extent. The situation as far as website delays are concerned was by far better last year. This year’s was the worst I’ve witnessed in my years of running our DV service.
An Overall Low Turnout
The passport requirement, coupled with the slow website experience toward the end of the Entry period saw the overall participation in the recent DV Entry process drastically reduce. For our part, we received only about 16% of turnout projected. The situation was certainly not the same in all quarters, but it would be quite a surprise if any DV service exceeded their usual participation rate.
Considering such a massive decline in our turnout rate this year, and extrapolating such to the global scene, I personally expect qualified entries worldwide to be anywhere between one million and a couple of million for the just-ended DV 2021 Entry period, unlike the more than 14 million experienced last year.