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Don’t fall for ‘Green Card Lottery’ scams

Don’t fall for ‘Green Card Lottery’ scams, urges U.S. 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."

Background:

• Up to 55,000 Immigrant visas are made available annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

• Visas are distributed among six geographical regions, with no visas going to citizens of any country sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the past five years.

• Diversity Visa (DV) applicants are chosen by a random, computer-generated drawing, just like a lottery. Successful applicants will have their Immigrant Visa application processed, which includes an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Auckland. Like all other applicants, DV applicants must pay any regular visa-related fees.

• To receive an Immigrant Visa DV Lottery winners must show they meet the basic minimum requirement of satisfactory completion of at least twelve years of education, including four years of high school.

• Every qualified entry received will have an EQUAL RANDOM CHANCE of being selected within its region, regardless of whether it was completed directly by the applicant or by a paid intermediary.

• Receipt of more than one entry per person will disqualify the person from registration, regardless of the source of that additional entry.

• The 2011 DV Programme opened on 2 October 2009 and will close at noon U.S. Eastern Standard Time on 30 November, 2009. Further information, instructions on registration, and the FREE on-line application are available from the following official U.S. Government website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318html.

ENDS

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