What is Visa Bulletin?

What is Visa Bulletin                                                                      

 Applicants Most Frequently Asked Question

Over the years, the number one question asked by those applying for U. S. immigrant visas has been: “When will my interview be?”. This question will undoubtedly dominate DV forums when the DV 2020 results are released in just over a week.

To answer this question, one is usually referred to the Visa Bulletin. So, what in essence is this “Visa Bulletin,” and how do you use it to know your ‘approximate’ interview date?

The Visa Bulletin (VB)

The Visa Bulletin is simply a chart/table that provides information regarding interview dates for cases of immigration to the United States.

The Visa Bulletin is published by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U. S. State Department and appears on their official website around the middle of every month (officially), although sometimes it is delayed, and appears on the website later than the usual time.

The Visa Bulletin published in a given month is intended for, and named after the month that follows the month it is published. For example, the VB for October is published in September; the one for November is published in October; for December is published in November; for January, in December; etc.

The Visa Bulletin concerns all the different types of immigrant visa applications. In this article, however, we concern ourselves ONLY with the section of the Visa Bulletin related to the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program.

DV Category of the Visa Bulletin

The DV Section of the Visa Bulletin (VB) displays up to what case number are to be interviewed in a two-consecutive-month period (considering the final case number interviewed the previous month). Simply put, it tells from what case number to what case number will be interviewed in the coming two months.

The DV Section, which is usually the final section of the three immigrant visa categories in the VB has two components, showing information for the two consecutive months that follow the month the VB is published.

The two components are:

  1. the DV Category for the Month of ______. (i.e. case numbers to be interviewed in the month immediately following the month the VB is released), and
  2. the DV Category rank cut-offs which will apply in the month of _______. (i.e. case numbers to be interviewed the month right after that).

Now, let’s go into that.

The first component in a given VB – Number 1 above – shows information for the month that immediately follows the month of publication of the VB in question – i.e. the month it is intended for and named after. Component 2 (Number 2 above), on the other hand provides the same type of information for the second month after the release of the VB in question.

More explanation

Component 1 in a given VB does not feature in the VB that follows. Component 2 in a given VB becomes Component 1 in the next VB, and the new Component 2 would be information about the next month in line. For example, the VB released in January (and referred to as “Visa Bulletin for February”), contains information for the month of February (and March).

Firstly, it will NOT show information about January, the month in which it was released (because it is NOT intended for that month). Instead, it will give information for February, the month it is inteded for (in its first component), and for March, the month that follows (in its second component). When the next VB is released in February, information about February will no longer feature on it. It’s now the “Visa Bulletin for March”, but will also highlight what is expected in April, and so on.

That is the sequence in which VBs are released. This allows a continuous “rolling out” of two consecutive months at a time, throughout the year.

To remember

  1. the VB provides information about immigrant visa interview dates
  2. it is published around the 15th of every month, but intended for and named after the following month
  3. the DV Category shows up to what case number is supposed to be interviewed in the next two months in each region
  4. it does not contain information about the month in which it is released
  5. it is rather about, and consequently contains information on:                                                                                                                    a. the month that immediately follows its month of release (in the first component)                                                                        b. the second month after its month of release (in the second component)

Summary of the most recent VBs from all regions

AFRICA

FISCAL YEAR 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
SEPT   Current Current 39,500 Current
AUG   Current Current Current Current
JUL Current Current;
Except
Egypt: 42,000
Current; Except
Egypt: 23,400
38,000 Current
JUN Current;
Except
Egypt:
18,900
Current;
Except
Egypt:
42,000
37,200; Except
Egypt: 21,110
28,300 Current
MAY 34,000;
Except
Egypt:  17,000
45,175;
Except
Egypt:
39,000
24,500 24,800 Current
APR 22,000;
Except
Egypt:  13,000
41,000;
Except
Egypt:
30,700
18,900 21,100 34,900
MAR 14,000;
Except
Egypt:  10,000
31,500;
Except
Egypt:
22,000
15,300 17,700 28,700
FEB 12,000;
Except
Egypt:  7,200
25,000;
Except
Egypt:
16,000
13,800 14,300 28,700
JAN 10,500;
Except
Egypt:  6,000
19,000;
Except
Egypt:
10,000
13,100 13,000 25,800
DEC 7,000;
Except
Egypt:   4,000
12,000 9,800 10,000 20,400
NOV 5,100;
Except
Egypt:  3,300
5,600 6,400 8,600 13,500
OCT 2,900;
Except
Egypt: 
2,700
2,500;
Except
Egypt:
1,500
2,750 8,500 8,000

AMERICA, NORTH (BAHAMAS)

FISCAL YEAR 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
SEPT   Current Current Current Current
AUG   Current Current Current Current
JUL Current Current Current 18 Current
JUN Current Current 14 16 Current
MAY 8 17 13 14 Current
APR 7 16 12 10 10
MAR 6 9 12 8 7
FEB 5 8 12 6 6
JAN 4 8 12 5 5
DEC 4 7 11 4 4
NOV 3 4 9 3 3
OCT 2 2 4 2 2

AMERICA, SOUTH and the CARIBBEAN

FISCAL YEAR 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
SEPT   Current Current 1,715 Current
AUG   Current Current 1,585 Current
JUL Current Current Current 1,425 Current
JUN Current Current 1,150 1,275 Current
MAY 1,650 1,875 900 1,100 Current
APR 1,400 1,560 875 925 900
MAR 1,175 1,300 750 800 875
FEB 875 1,150 625 625 825
JAN 750 1,075 550 500 775
DEC 550 850 475 425 650
NOV 475 600 355 325 575
OCT 350 225 150 190 400

ASIA

FISCAL YEAR 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
SEPT   Current Current Current Current
AUG   Current Current Current Current
JUL Current Current;
Except
Nepal: 13,500
Current;
Except
Nepal:
6,275
10,500 Current
JUN Current;
Except
Iran: 6,400
Nepal: 6,400
Current;
Except
Nepal: 13,500
10,000;
Except
Nepal:
5,775
7,800 Current
MAY 13,000;
Except
Iran: 6,000
Nepal: 5,100
18,450;
Except
Iran:11,550
Nepal: 11,700
7,800 6,425 Current
APR 9,000;
Except
Iran: 4,700
Nepal: 4,500
15,800;
Except
Iran:9,800
Nepal: 10,500
6,400 5,300 5,500
MAR 6,200;
Except
Iran: 3,800
Nepal: 4,200
12,500;
Except
Iran:7,600
Nepal: 8,800
5,000 4,400 4,700
FEB 5,000;
Except
Iran: 3,000
Nepal: 3,950
12,000;
Except
Iran: 6,500
Nepal: 7,575
4,400 4,050 4,700
JAN 4,300;
Except
Iran: 2,400
Nepal: 2,825
8,200;
Except
Iran: 5,100
Nepal: 6,500
3,800 3,400 4,000
DEC 3,500;
Except
Iran: 1,600       Nepal: 2,750
6,000 2,900 2,500 3,500
NOV 2,800;
Except
Iran: 1,300
Nepal: 2,700
3,500 1,600 1,750 3,000
OCT 1,600;
Except
Iran: 1,000
Nepal: 1,050
1,300;
Except
Iran: 750
Nepal: 1,000
1,000 1,200 2,100

EUROPE

FISCAL YEAR 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
SEPT   Current Current 25,775 Current
AUG   Current Current 23,325 Current
JUL Current Current Current 21,900 Current
JUN Current Current 26,800 20,300 Current
MAY 18,000 30,000 21,900 18,050 Current
APR 12,000 21,200 18,500 15,950 22,100
MAR 9,400 21,000 13,500 13,800 19,300
FEB 8,200 14,000 10,000 10,700 18,000
JAN 7,500 10,300 8,800 8,200 15,900
DEC 6,000 8,600 6,600 6,000 14,000
NOV 4,800 6,000 4,400 4,500 13,000
OCT 2,500 2,100 2,000 2,600 8,500

OCEANIA

FISCAL YEAR 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
SEPT   Current Current 1,450 Current
AUG   Current Current 1,400 Current
JUL Current Current Current 1,200 Current
JUN Current Current 1,025 1,100 Current
MAY 1,400 2,150 900 1,025 Current
APR 1,100 1,975 725 875 850
MAR 900 1,625 550 800 800
FEB 725 1,350 450 615 725
JAN 600 1,200 350 475 650
DEC 450 800 290 400 525
NOV 350 400 200 315 475
OCT 250 175 100 185 300

What are these numbers saying?

Let’s consider information for Fiscal Year 2019 in the Oceania chart just above, for example. The first cut-off number in FY 2019 in this chart (i.e. for October 2018) is 100. It means, during the month of October 2018, only case numbers below 100 were interviewed in the Oceania Region. For the month of November 2018, case numbers interviewed there were the ones found in the range 100 to less than 200 (i.e. 199). For December 2018, those from 200 to less than 290 (i.e. 289), and so on.

Note: The United States Fiscal Year runs from October 1st of one year to September 30th of the following year – and not January to December – as shown in the tables above.

What is meant by ‘a case number is current’

We say a case number is ‘current’ when it is the ‘turn’ for that case to be interviewed. We get to know the case numbers to become current (cases to be interviewed) by means of the Visa Bulletin released two months before the month of interview.

As the Visa Bulletin announces the case numbers to become current (cases to be interviewed) in two months’ time, the cases concerned are notified at that same time – two months to their interview.

For example, if a case is to be interviewed in October, that case is notified in August. The Visa Bulletin published in August includes the regional / country cut-offs for the month of October.

And all cases whose case numbers are BELOW the cut-off for the month of October are notified in August of their interview to be held in October. Those to be interviewed in November are informed in September. December interviews are notified in October; and so on – always two months ahead.

The interview for a given case is conducted during the month that the Visa Bulletin says that case number will be current. Provided the DS-260 form(s) AND required documents of that case had been submitted several weeks – if not months – earlier.

Other VB realities to understand

You may have observed the word ‘Current’ in the tables above. Whenever that word appears in the Visa Bulletin for any region (we say that region is/has become current, which usually occurs in the second half of the fiscal year), it means interview in that region is open to ALL cases which have met the two requirements to be interviewed, namely they’ve submitted a complete and valid DS-260 application for each family member, and they’ve provided copies of all required documentation to the Kentucky Consular Center. When a region becomes current, case numbers no longer matter. What matters instead is being on record for having met both requirements spelled out above.

Another reality of the Visa Bulletin is regional exceptions (which are common in the Africa and Asia regions). This reality causes some countries to be dealt with apart from the rest of their region. Such countries have their own monthly cut-off numbers which are generally below that of their region (See Egypt in the Africa region; and Iran and Nepal in the Asia region, FY 2020). That is quite normal, and does not present any inconvenience to applicants from the countries concerned. It’s just a way of dealing with realities in those countries which are not the same as those in the rest of the region.

How to determine your approximate interview date

The way to determine your DV interview date approximately is by looking at VBs from recent years to see in which month case numbers close to yours were scheduled for interview. Once you determine that, you then extrapolate; i.e. you somewhat conclude that your case number would be scheduled for interview around the same time as other numbers close to it were, the year(s) before.

Let’s consider the above table for the the sake of explanation. When the results are released in just over a week’s time, we can say that someone in the Europe Region with a Case Number 3500 will most certainly be scheduled for interview in November. That is because case numbers around 3500 were scheduled in November during the DV 2018 and DV 2019 Programs. (Update: And that is what actually happened. See FY 2020).

This is how one goes about determining his/her interview month. That’s why we usually use the word “approximate” when predicting one’s interview time. When it comes to the exact date of the interview, you only get to know it when you receive your NL2 in which all your interview details will be spelt out.

Exercise Some Level of Caution

It could be tricky if your case number is close to a past cut-off number. In that case, it could fall in either of the months bordering that cut-off number this time around.

Moreover, whenever there is a major change in the DV procedure, it affects how cases are scheduled. Certain procedural changes may speed up the rate of interviews scheduled, thereby increasing the cut-off numbers during the fiscal year, while others tend to slow down that rate, and consequently reduce the cut-off numbers.

When procedural change occur in the DV process, a new cut-off numbers pattern takes place and continues until another major procedure comes into play some time down the road to establish a new trend.

Example of Effect Caused by Procedural Change

The latest major change in DV procedure (at the time of publishing this article) occurred at the beginning of this fiscal year (from October 2018). You can learn about what that change entails in this article I published a couple of months ago. Considering the table above, one notices that this latest change in procedure mainly affected the Africa region. It is the only region among the six that experienced significant drop in its cut-off numbers at the beginning of the fiscal year. All others appear quite normal. The effect was however ‘normalized’ some time around the middle of the fiscal year.

10 thoughts on “What is Visa Bulletin?

  1. Hi,
    Your website has been very insightful and helpful !

    I would like to seek help in understanding my possibilities of being scheduled for DV2021 interview. I had submitted by DS 260 online in October, 2020, and mailed my additional documents on 1st week of November, 2020 to KCC. I have a case number 2021AS000074XX. I just received a mail confirming Additional Documents received from KCC today (14/07/21).

    Do you see my possibility to be scheduled for the visa interview ?

    1. Hi Ravi:

      Thank you for being one of our regular readers.

      We can not say that you will be scheduled for interview. The letter you just received is not a guarantee. It is however an indication that you are one of those ‘ready’ to be scheduled. Whether you will eventually – or not – actually depends on how lucky you are.

      There are many DV-2021 selectees like you who find themselves ‘set’ for interview. But as I’ve insisted for many months as highlighted in this article https://mydvprogram.com/dv-2021-program-whats-going-on, the fact remains that most of you will eventually not get an interview.

      With that, let’s hope – and pray – that you end up being one of the VERY LUCKY ones.

  2. hello! thanks for being a great source of information to me. I am great full!
    I am a winner of dv 2021 and I had submitted my ds260 form since last year. my case number is 2021AF70***
    I have not received any message from KCC yet and I wish to know if I must wait for their email before submitting my documents or I can go ahead and submit them without the email.
    and please I wish to be clarified on this as well, I entered the ds260 form without including the leading zeros on my case number (I. e 2021AF70*** instead of 2021AF00070***). please can this cause any problem? my mind hasn’t been at peace for a long time

    1. Hi. Sorry for the late response to your question. I have been ‘absent’ for a while so it’s just now I’m finding your questions. Hope my reply will still serve.

      1. Go ahead and submit them without receiving the email. Interviews are starting very late this year, so do not wait. Moreover, you won’t be penalized for doing so.
      2. Relax your mind. It doesn’t cause any problem.

      All the best!

  3. Hello Trodvies,
    I’m quite glad to find your article explaining in detail about the Visa Bulletin. I’m still unclear about the tentative date of interview. I would be thankful if you could explain my case. My case number is 2021AS450 from Nepal. So I guess that makes my rank number as 450. The VB for September 2020 says ” THE DIVERSITY (DV) IMMIGRANT CATEGORY RANK CUT-OFFS WHICH WILL APPLY IN OCTOBER” is 1050 for Nepal. So does this mean I will receive an email in October and interview will be scheduled for December, Or does it mean I should already have received an email on August for an interview on October?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Raj, and thanks for stopping by.

      With 1050 as cut-off for Nepal for the month of October, under normal circumstances, you should have received your interview notification letter in August, scheduling you for interview in October. That would have been the case in the absence of COVID-19 and the consequent ban on immigration which is currently in place.

      But you are not the only one affected. Applicants from all over the world who should have received their interview notification letters in August and September HAVEN’T, due to the prevailing situation.

  4. Hello!
    I’ve read so much on your site and I’m so glad I was able to educate myself on the information you provided. I have a question though and it has to do with the scheduling of interview. My case number is 2021OC000028XX and I’ve seen that it’s most likely to become current in June or July. My question is, let’s say my case number becomes current in June, when will I receive an email for an interview and which month will my interview take place?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Ell:

      Thank you for taking the time to visit our website. You’re always welcome.

      Under normal circumstances, interview takes place during the month the case number becomes current. So, if your case number becomes current in June, it means your interview will normally be conducted in June. And you will normally receive the email and consequently your NL2 two months earlier, in April.

      (That is why the VB announces the case numbers to become current two months ahead. And it’s at that same time – when the case numbers to become current are announced in the VB – that the emails and NL2 are sent out to the applicants concerned). That is what happens under normal circumstances.

      But remember, these are not normal times. If the DV program remains in its current state of uncertainty (which we don’t hope for), then things may play out differently.

  5. Please the months that have current in them like
    africa fy2019 month of August and September means what?, Because my wife’s case numer is 37405 and still yet have not been scheduled for an interview, has it ended or there is still a possibility of been scheduled this year

    1. Hi Beni, and thanks for visiting our website to get some clarity.

      When a region has “current” in a given month, that means for that month, there’s no backlog of cases at KCC for that region. I intend to write an article to explain the entire process in a very simple manner. The “current’ issue will be largely discussed in it.

      Now, concerning your wife’s case, I’m afraid that it might be late. (Read my latest article; it deals with that issue). However, there may still be VERY LITTLE hope. I’m saying this because as I write this response, the September Visa Bulletin which should officially announce the beginning of interviews for DV-2020 has not yet been released (and it’s overdue).

      I do not know if the delay is meant to consider a number of DV-2019 cases, since this year is believed to be under-issued. But even that will be a miracle.

      So the answer to your question rests with the publication of the September VB. If it begins with the cut-off numbers for DV-2020, then there’s no hope for your wife. But if, on the other hand, it somehow refers to DV-2019 (which I insist is unheard of), then she may still be in. Only the Sept VB will provide a definite answer.

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