Since 1995, the U.S. government has offered 55,000 immigrants the chance to get a green card through an international lottery. The Diversity Immigration Visa program decides each year which countries have the lowest immigration rates and opens up the lottery to those who want U.S. permanent residence visas. Millions of people apply — indeed, there were more than eight million applicants in 2012 — and many unwary immigrants end up getting ripped off by scam artists.
There is no fee to enter the Diversity Visa lottery and no way to increase your chances of winning since the drawing is computerized and random. Common green card scams include the following:
- Setting up fake lottery application websites
- Asking for an application fee
- Asking for money to increase your odds of winning
- Sending a false congratulatory letter or email and asking for follow-up money
All applicants can sign up for the lottery once a year at the official government website. You are required to provide information about you and your family, including photos, and then it is up to you to check whether your entry has been selected. If you are selected, you do have to pay a fee when you go to your appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate — but this is the only money that you are required to pay throughout the process. People often lose thousands of dollars through these illegal lottery schemes.
Winning the Green Card Lottery may be a dream come true for some lucky immigrants, but having permanent residence status does not offer the same protections as citizenship. Under certain circumstances, you might be facing deportation or find yourself unable to travel. If you are facing removal or deportation in Florida, consider calling one of our offices and speaking to a qualified immigration lawyer as soon as possible to protect everything that you and your family worked so hard to establish.