Hi. I'm Michael Waller, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission. Every year, the US State Department has a diversity visa lottery. If you're from an eligible country and you meet the educational or work requirements, you can enter the lottery for a chance to apply for what's called lawful permanent resident status in the United States. It's what many people called getting a green card.
Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of people who want to enter the lottery. These con artists say they can help you win the visa lottery or increase your chances of winning, and the problem is, they can't. Some scammers say you've won the lottery, even if you've never entered, and then ask for payment to process your application. All of these con artists will take your money, but you'll get nothing in return. The scammers might even cost you the chance to get a green card legally.
Registration for the lottery is open once a year for about a month every fall. There's only one way to enter the diversity visa lottery, and that's online at dvlottery.state.gov. To enter, you'll fill out a form on the State Department website. You'll answer questions and give information about yourself, your spouse, and your children who are under 21. You'll also submit digital photos of yourself like passport photos.
Entering the lottery is free. You can enter the diversity visa lottery only once each year. If you enter more than once, your entries will not count. But if your spouse is eligible to enter the lottery, he or she can apply separately. If your entry is selected, you can include your spouse on your application, and your children as well, if they're single and under 21.
When you submit your entry through the official website, dvlottery.state.gov, you'll get an acknowledgement from the State Department. You'll also get a confirmation number. Keep that number safe, because you'll need it to check on your status.
The selection process is completely random. A computer randomly selects the entries that win a spot. There's no way to increase your chances of winning the diversity visa lottery. The State Department will never send you a letter or an email to say that your application has been chosen. The only way to check the status of your application is to look online at dvlottery.state.gov. So if you get an email or letter from someone telling you that you won, it's a scam.
Finally, if your entry is selected, you'll have to pay an application fee to the US Embassy or Consulate Cashier, but only when you go for your scheduled appointment. The US government will never ask you to send any money in advance by check, money order, or wire transfer.
So if you're thinking about entering the lottery, remember a few things. The only place to enter the lottery is at dvlottery.state.gov. There's no place else to apply. No one can increase your chances of having a winning entry. The drawing is completely random.
The State Department will never send you an email saying that you won. You can apply and find out your status only at dvlottery.state.gov. And finally, the State Department will never ask you to pay a fee in advance for the diversity visa lottery. Applying for the lottery is free.
So if you suspect a scam, please report your experience of the Federal Trade Commission. Call 1-877-382-4357 to file your complaint. That number is 1-877-382-4357. We'd like to hear from you.