How to Avoid DV Green Card Lottery Scams

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Millions of people enter the United States diversity visa program (better known as the green card lottery) each year hoping to be selected for one of the 50,000 immigrant visas. The lottery is free to enter, but there are many businesses who offer services to assist people with their applications. While many of these businesses are legitimate, some exist only to scam innocent people out of their money.

The U.S. State Department warns applicants to be on the lookout for these frauds and scam artists. Following are 5 tips to help you avoid being scammed.

There is no fee to download, complete and submit the electronic diversity visa entry form. If a website or business wants to charge you a fee for entering the green card lottery, the money does not go to the U.S. government; this is a fee for the company's services. There are legitimate companies that provide fee-based services to help immigrant-hopefuls register in the lottery, however, these businesses have to follow the exact same procedures as you do to submit your registration. You should carefully consider whether you really need to pay someone to put through an application on your behalf that would cost you nothing to submit.

No one can claim to have a special procedure or form to increase your chances of winning. There are really only two ways you can "increase your chances" of winning:

  1. Submit an application that is complete, error-free and meets the eligibility requirements to avoid having your entry disqualified.
  2. If both you and your spouse are eligible for the lottery, you can apply separately. If one of you "wins," the other spouse can enter the country on the winning spouse's visa.

    Watch for websites posing as U.S. government websites. The website name may look like a government site with a similar-sounding name as a government agency, with flags and official-looking seals decorating the site and links to legitimate government addresses, but be careful--the website could be an impostor. If the domain name doesn't end in ".gov" then it is not a government website. There is only one way to submit your diversity visa lottery entry, and that's through the U.S. State Department at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Some embassy websites do not have ".gov" as their domain, but you can link to the official U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions websites.

    Green card lottery winners will receive a letter in the mail with further instructions on how to complete the immigration process. Winners DO NOT receive notification by e-mail. If you are chosen as a lottery winner, an official letter from the U.S. Department of State Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, Kentucky will be sent to the mailing address you provided in your application. You can check the status of your entry online at the E-DV website to confirm whether or not you are a winner. The online status check opens several months after the lottery registration period ends.

    If you have been selected to apply for a diversity visa, a fee will be required for the immigrant visa application, payable to the Department of State. This filing fee DOES NOT go to the person or business who submitted your lottery entry (if you paid someone for this service). No one is authorized by the Department of State to notify diversity visa lottery applicants of their winning entry, the next steps in the processing of applying for their visa or collect fees on behalf of the Department of State. Current fees for visa services are available on the Department of State website.

    Additional Resources

    To learn more about avoiding green card lottery scams, see the Department of State Warning and the Federal Trade Commission Warning.

    Source: U.S. State Department