DV Lottery Scam Alert

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) annual diversity visa (DV) lottery is often a vehicle used by unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States. While the DV lottery is a genuine U.S. government program, it is important to know enough about the DV lottery to protect oneself from fraud.

No eMail Notification by the DOS

The DOS has posted a fraud warning on its website, which sets out some of the problem areas and provides guidance. Two important points are that (1) the DOS does not charge any fees for participation in the lottery program and (2) they also do not advise “winners” (those selected to apply for legal permanent residence) by eMail. Notification is made by letter only. A genuine notification carries the personal data of the applicant. It does not include blanket requests for basic personal information. Fraudulent notifications sometimes ask for such information.

Certain Countries are not Eligible to Participate in the Visa Lottery

The lottery is not available to individuals from countries with high rates of immigration. Ineligible countries include India, China (mainland), Mexico, the Philippines, S. Korea, Pakistan, Canada, and others listed in the instructions. Individuals from ineligible countries can be certain that any notification of lottery selection is false. Instances have been brought to our attention in which people from ineligible countries are informed of purported DV lottery selection (with, of course, a request for funds).

One Must Apply to Win U.S. Visa Lottery

The DV lottery has an application procedure for participants. If one has not submitted this application through the DOS WebSite, within the established timeframes, one cannot be selected. The DOS does not select individuals at random for this benefit. Fraudulent winner notifications are sometimes received by individuals who have not even applied for the DV lottery. Information on the most recent DV lottery, FY2012, was published in our news article, 2012 DV Lottery to Begin (17.Sep.2010).

Genuine Information Available on DOS WebSite

The genuine information for DV lottery application, as well as the results of those applications, is available through the DOS WebSite. Individuals who applied under the FY2011 DV lottery were notified by mail between May and July 2010, and given instructions. Those who were selected can obtain online status information at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/. Those who applied under the FY2012 DV lottery (applications submitted October 5, 2010 through November 3, 2010), will be able to check their status online as of May 1, 2011.


The lottery program is often used in efforts to take advantage of foreign nationals. It is important to protect oneself from possible scams by being informed and checking into any questionable communications regarding the visa lottery program. It is also important to be careful regarding any organizations that claim to be able to improve one’s chances of success with the lottery application process. Individuals with questions should review the information on the DOS WebSite and get qualified legal advice if questions remain.

Copyright © 2011, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.