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. Diversity visas has been: “When will my interview be?”. This same 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? In this article, we are going to concern ourselves ONLY with the section of the Visa Bulletin related to the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) program.


The Visa Bulletin

The Visa Bulletin is simply a chart/table that 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). In other words, it tells from which case number to which case number will be interviewed in the coming two months.

The Visa Bulletin is published by the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U. S. State Department on their official website around the middle of each month (officially; although sometimes it is “delayed,” and only appears on their website after the official time mentioned), and it concerns all the different types of immigrant visa applications. But as mentioned above, this article only deals with the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) section of the Visa Bulletin.

DV Category

The DV Section of the Visa Bulletin (VB) has two components, showing information for the two consecutive months that follow the month the VB is published:

  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. 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. Instead, it will give information for February (in its first component), and for March (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 is published between around the 15th of every month
  2. the DV Category shows up to what case number is supposed to be interviewed in the next one/two months in each region
  3. it does not contain information about the month in which it is released
  4. 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 VB from all regions

AFRICA

FY OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP
2020 2,500; Except Egypt: 1,500 5,600 12,000 19,000; Except Egypt: 10,000 25,000; Except Egypt: 16,000 31,500; Except Egypt: 22,000 41,000; Except Egypt: 30,700 45,175; Except Egypt: 39,000 Current; Except Egypt: 42,000 Current; Except Egypt: 42,000 Current Current
2019 2750 6400 9800 13100 13800 15300 18900 24500 37,200; Except Egypt: 21,110 Current; Except Egypt: 23,400 Current Current
2018 8500 8600 10000 13000 14300 17700 21100 24800 28300 38000 Current 39500
2017 8000 13500 20400 25800 28700 28700 34900 Current Current Current Current Current

 AMERICA, NORTH (BAHAMAS)

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

AMERICA, SOUTH and the CARIBBEAN

FY OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP
2020 225 600 850 1,075 1,150 1,300 1,560 1,875 Current Current Current Current
2019 150 355 475 550 625 750 875 900 1,150 Current Current Current
2018 190 325 425 500 625 800 925 1100 1275 1425 1585 1715
2017 400 575 650 775 825 875 900 Current Current Current Current Current

ASIA

FY OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP
2020 1,300; Except Iran:750, Nepal: 1,000 3,500 6,000 8,200; Except Iran:5,100, Nepal: 6,500 12,000; Except Iran:6,500, Nepal: 7,575 12,500; Except Iran:7,600, Nepal: 8,800 15,800; Except Iran:9,800, Nepal: 10,500 18,450; Except Iran:11,550, Nepal: 11,700 Current; Except Nepal: 13,500 Current; Except Nepal: 13,500 Current Current
2019 1000 1600 2900 3800 4400 5000 6400 7800 10,000; Except Nepal: 5,775 Current; Except Nepal: 6,275 Current Current
2018 1200 1750 2500 3400 4050 4400 5300 6425 7800 10500 Current Current
2017 2100 3000 3500 4000 4700 4700 5500 Current Current Current Current Current

EUROPE

FY OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP
2020 2,100 6,000 8,600 10,300 14,000 21,000 21,200 30,000 Current Current Current Current
2019 2000 4400 6600 8800 10000 13500 18500 21900 26,800 Current Current Current
2018 2600 4500 6000 8200 10700 13800 15950 18050 20300 21900 23325 25775
2017 8500 13000 14000 15900 18000 19300 22100 Current Current Current Current Current

OCEANIA

FY OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP
2020 175 400 800 1,200 1,350 1,625 1,975 2,150 Current Current Current Current
2019 100 200 290 350 450 550 725 900 1,025 Current Current Current
2018 185 315 400 475 615 800 875 1025 1100 1200 1400 1450
2017 300 475 525 650 725 800 850 Current Current Current Current Current

What are these numbers saying?

Let’s consider information for Fiscal Year 2019 in the chart relating to Oceania just above, for example. The first cut-off number in FY 2019 in that 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 (used in the tables above) runs from October 1st of one year to September 30th of the following year. That is why the first month shown in the tables is October (and not January); and the last month is September (instead of December).



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 two months earlier.

As the Visa Bulletin announces the case numbers to become current (cases to be interviewed) in two months’ time, the cases concerned are immediately notified, meaning the notification takes place two months to the month of interview. For example, cases to be interviewed in October are notified in August; those to be interviewed in November are informed in September; and so on – always two months ahead.

A case is interviewed during the month that that case number is/becomes current, provided such case submitted their DS-260 form(s) AND their required documents 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 – that 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 for being interviewed, namely submitted a complete and valid DS-260 application for each family member, and provided copies of all required documentation to the Kentucky Consular Center. We say that region is/has become current. 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 spelled 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 a 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 notice 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.

4 thoughts on “What is Visa Bulletin?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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