US visa applicants warned of online scams

Fraudsters are claiming they can increase odds of winning lottery for a fee, lawyer says

Times Square, New York. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Applicants to a US Green Card scheme, which opened earlier this month, have been warned against online fraudsters.

The Diversity Visa Lottery opened on October 1st. It will issue 50,000 visas, with a maximum of 3,500 going to Ireland.

Applicants must have a secondary-level education or two-years work experience in the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two-years training or work experience.

They must also show that they are self-sufficient and must not have committed serious crimes or broken US visa rules in the past.


The closing date for applications is November 3rd.

US immigration lawyer Deirdre O'Brien, of O'Brien & Associates, said that fraud schemes include sites posing as the official lottery website or emails making false promises about increasing the odds of getting a visa for a fee.

“The only way to apply is through the appropriate US department of state website and applications are free,” she said.

“Claims by companies or individuals that they can increase your chances of being selected by handling an application for a fee are bogus.”


A recent scam instructed recipients of emails to send money via

Western Union

to a fictitious person at the US embassy, Ms O’Brien said.

She also warned against emails notifying applicants that they have been successful while asking for payment for an application or other fee.

“The US Department of State will not notify successful applicants by email,” she said.

From May 3rd, 2016, applicants can check whether or not they have been successful by entering their own personal confirmation numbers at the official lottery site.

Ms O’Brien also said it should not be necessary to hire a lawyer to enter the lottery and that applicants should ignore contacts from people claiming to be lawyers who can help them with their application.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist