Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't Fall For 'Green Card Lottery' Scams, Urges US Immigration Official

With just over two weeks to go in the 2011 U.S. 'Green Card Lottery,' United States immigration officials in Auckland are warning applicants to watch out for private companies which offer to apply on their behalf in exchange for significant fees. These companies' services are unnecessary and add little or no benefit to the applicant, say officials. In particular, unsolicited emails advising that the recipient has 'won' a visa or a lottery 'promotion' are likely to be straightforward scams.

"New Zealanders should be aware," says Nick Greanias, U.S. Consular Chief in Auckland, "that while some of these companies offer a genuine, if very limited, service for the fees they charge, the on-line Lottery application process is both straightforward and free to enter for eligible applicants."

Each year, the 'Green Card Lottery' - officially known as the Diversity Visa (DV) Programme - makes up to 55,000 immigrant visas available to eligible people who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. In addition to New Zealand and its dependent areas overseas, in the Pacific region those countries include: Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Samoa.

The U.S. Government employs no outside agents or private consultants to operate the programme. Any intermediaries or others who offer assistance to prepare DV casework do so without the authority or consent of the U.S. Government. As Greanias says, "These emails and websites try hard to look official, but nobody from the U.S. Government is trying to drum up business by sending unsolicited e-mails about the DV Programme, or creating pop-ups on websites."

Successful applicants must meet simple, but strict eligibility criteria. Success in the DV Lottery doesn't guarantee an Immigrant (or Permanent Resident) Visa - applicants will still have to meet the specific criteria laid-out before this Visa will be issued. But, says Greanias, "It's got to be the best lottery in the world, because you don't have to pay anything unless you win."

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