The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers has issued a strong warning to immigrants to be cautious of individuals charging large fees to file applications for the Diversity Visa Lottery. The program which gives winning entrants an opportunity to apply for a permanent visa to live and work in the US has attracted a host unscrupulous businesses and attorneys who advertise widely and use a variety of strategies to take money from unsuspecting consumers.
Applicants who are applying for this program should be aware that only websites with the “.gov” indicator in their website address are official government sites. Many other websites provide legitimate and accurate information but applicants should only submit their personal information on the official DV Lottery website.
Each year the lottery is open for a specific period – usually early October through early December, and applications can only be submitted during this time. The program makes 50,000 visas available annually to applicants who meet eligibility requirements. The winning applicants are drawn randomly and notified by mail. People who were born in Ireland and Northern Ireland and who meet the program conditions are eligible to apply. Full details on eligibility and the application process can be found at Department of State Website: www.dvlottery.state.gov. Applications must be submitted electronically during the application period and applicants are advised not to wait until the last week as heavy volume on the website may mean that you cannot submit your entry.
There have been many instances of fraudulent websites posing as official U.S. Government sites or misrepresenting their services by saying that they are affiliated with the U.S. government. Others imply that they have special expertise or a special entry form that is required to enter the lottery or that their company has never had a lottery entry rejected. Many of them will also say that people from ineligible countries still are “qualified” to enter the lottery. These companies will charge a large fee in order to complete lottery entry forms.
“Not only are immigrants giving scam artists their money and personal information, but often no application is actually filed for them and they lose their opportunity to submit an entry,” said Sheila Gleeson, Executive Director of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers.
To protect themselves from unscrupulous practitioners immigrants are advised to do careful research before submitting their information.
Please note that there is no charge to download and complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form. The Department of State notifies successful Diversity Visa applicants by letter, and not by email. If you need help to file your application or if you feel that you are the victim of a scam call your local Irish immigrant center for assistance. Find your local Irish Center here.