This article is from the FAQ, by with numerous contributions by others.
The registration period for the next Diversity Visa Lottery (DV-98)
will begin at noon on February 3, 1997 and will end at noon on
March 5, 1997. Any entries received before or after these dates will
Persons born in the following countries are not eligible for
DV-98: Canada, China, including Mainland and Taiwan, Colombia,
Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Philippines,
Poland, South Korea, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom and its dependent
territories. (Persons born in Hong Kong and Northern Ireland are
eligible to apply.)
If you are in the United States, to receive written instructions on how
to enter the visa lottery (DV-98), please call the U.S. Department of
State's Visa Lottery Information Center at 1-900-884-8840 and leave
your name and address. You will be charged a flat rate of $5.10 on your
telephone bill (callers must be age 18 or older) and the information will
be mailed to you within three business days. If you are overseas, please
contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for DV-98 instructions.
Federal Trade Commission
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Office of Consumer and Business Education
Green Card Lottery Scams
Washington, D.C. -- If you or someone you know is trying to obtain a
green card--the right to live permanently in the United States--be on
the alert for unscrupulous businesses and attorneys who claim that, for
a fee, they can increase your chances of winning the U. S. State
Department's annual green card lottery.
Each year the State Department conducts a green card lottery through
its diversity visa program to distribute applications for 55,000
immigrant visas. Winners of the lottery have a chance to apply for
an immigrant visa, which can be used to enter the U.S. Winners are
selected randomly and there is no fee to enter the lottery. If the
winner files a successful application, he or she can enter the U.S.
and exchange the immigrant visa for a green card, issued by the
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). If the winner is in the
U.S. already, he or she can get a green card from INS without leaving
Some businesses and attorneys use misrepresentations and unfair practices
to promote services to consumers who hope to win a chance to apply for a
green card through the lottery program. Among the deceptions scam artists
use are statements that:
-- they are affiliated with the U.S. Government;
-- special expertise or a special application form is required to
enter the lottery;
-- their company never has had a lottery entry rejected, and
-- their company can increase an applicant's chances of "winning" the
In addition, some fraudulent companies jeopardize an applicant's opportunity
to participate in the lottery by filing multiple entries; and try to force
lottery-winning applicants to pay substantial fees to complete the visa and
green card application process. A delay in processing a winner's application
can kill their chances for a green card because the State Department selects
more winners than there are visas available. The State Department awards
visas on a first-come, first-served basis.
The best way to protect yourself from green card lottery scam artists is to
understand how the State Department's lottery works.
-- Entering the green card lottery is straightforward and costs nothing.
You can enter on your own by following the instructions available from
the State Department or your local consumer affairs office. There is no
entry form. Hiring an attorney or company to enter the lottety for you is
-- Do not submit more than one entry. If you do, you will be disqualified
-- No special techniques or loopholes are available to increase your
chances of winning the green card lottery. Selection of entries in the
lottery is random.
For more information about the State Department's green card lottery,
contact the U.S. Department of State hotline at 900-884-8840. The cost of
the call is $5.10. You also may access the State Department's website at
http://travel.state.gov. If you think you are a victim of a green card
lottery scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission's New York Regional
Office at (212) 264-1207. Or, contact the National Fraud Information
Center (NFIC), a project of the National Consumers League, at
1-800-876-7060, 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday - Friday, or at
http://www.fraud.org on the Internet.