How to avoid becoming a victim of visa lottery fraud?

There are already reports of people claiming to have been scammed by unscrupulous people during the visa lottery registration period. In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® explains how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

This is the column:

The new registration period for the diversity visa lottery for fiscal year 2018, covering October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, has opened. There are only 50 thousand visas available for the program which is known as the visa lottery.

Interested persons have until 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (EDT) on Monday, November 7, 2016 to register electronically for the drawing.

For more information on the diversity visa program and how to enroll click here.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is to be well informed. If you have a good understanding of the process, the requirements and who is eligible, there is less risk of being scammed.

Diversity visa basics:

  1. These visas are only granted to persons from countries that have a low rate of immigration to the United States. Therefore, from Latin America no are eligible from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and El Salvador.
  2. To be eligible, a person who wants to apply for one of these visas must have at least a high school education, or two years of work experience in an occupation that has required training.
  3. If you have a criminal or immigration history, including having lived or worked illegally in the United States, you may not be eligible for an immigrant visa through the visa lottery. If you have such a record, you should consult with an immigration attorney before participating in the visa lottery or beginning any immigration proceedings.
  4. Participants in the program can only register on the U.S. Department of State website, during the registration period ending November 7, 2016.
  5. Registration for the visa lottery is free of charge.
  6. The results of the visa lottery will be published on only on the website on May 2, 2017.
  7. If you win the visa lottery, you must pay the immigrant visa fee directly to the Department of State.

Become well-informed about how the visa lottery works on the Department of State's website. You can find detailed instructions for participating in the fiscal year 2018 visa lottery by clicking here. click here.

Some tips:

  • The drawing is done randomly. Therefore, no one person can help you increase your chances of winning. If someone offers you this kind of guarantee, they are lying to you.
  • Avoid people who want to charge you a visa lottery registration fee. Remember: registration is free!
  • Ignore communications (e-mails, letters, calls, etc.) from third parties advising that you have won the visa lottery and that you need to send them money to help you continue the process. Winners are posted on the Department of State website.
  • Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357.

If in doubt, consult with an immigration attorney or a federally accredited representative for appropriate advice.

Below you can watch a Telemundo report in which I was interviewed about possible visa lottery scams.