Don’t be fooled by scams when applying for a U.S. diversity visa

Avoid getting scammed when trying to enter the Diversity Visa program

October 1 marks the opening of registration for the Diversity Visa (DV) Program, which annually awards up to 55,000 U.S. immigrant visas to people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For many, winning an immigrant visa to the United States can be a dream come true. But if you’re applying, don’t let scammers turn your experience into a nightmare. The State Department’s Office of Visa Services warns that scam emails about the diversity visa lottery are on the rise.

You can only register for the 2017 Diversity Visa Program using the official website. But remember, registration closes at noon, Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) on Tuesday, November 3, 2015. A random lottery will then be used to select the applicants who may continue the application process.

If you are planning to register for a diversity visa, avoid the scams by remembering these tips:

Look for .gov

Only visa information on U.S. government websites ending in “.gov” is official. Official U.S. government email addresses also end in “.gov”. Any visa-related correspondence coming from an address that does not end with “.gov” is suspect. Don’t be fooled by images of the U.S. flag, U.S. Capitol, White House or Statue of Liberty. Anything on the Internet that does not end with “.gov” is likely a scam.

Never send money for your diversity visa application

Fees for the DV application process are paid to the U.S. Embassy or consulate cashier at the time of your scheduled appointment. You will pay in person. The U.S. government will never ask you to send payment in advance by check, money order or wire transfer.

There’s only one place to find out your status: online

DV applicants must check their status online through the DV Entrant Status Check at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov. The U.S. government may send a reminder email but will neither communicate by traditional mail nor inform successful applicants by email. The only way to know if you’ve been selected to continue the application process is by monitoring the status-check Web page.

For more information on how to avoid being scammed, check out the State Department’s website on Diversity Visa Program scams.