I am a passionate twitter user who engages and have not been verified even though I submitted proper info. In addition every time I approach 18 thousand followers the next day I lose like 500. This is a recurring issue. I have never paid for followers either.
Did you get denied? Or have you not been approved *yet*?
I'm not sure how Twitter is working through the application process, but from what I can tell it is roughly in order based on follower account with a big focus on who they are and how much their name or personal brand are attached to why people follow them.