United States Embassy warns Lebanese of Internet visa scams
If you get a message saying you’ve won the Green Card Lottery, you can be sure it’s a scam, warned the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon Monday.
As millions of people worldwide apply for the yearly Diversity Visa Lottery, more commonly known as the Green Card Lottery (so-called for the color of the permanent residency card), many people, especially some in Lebanon, are also getting scammed.
This happened to George Eid, a 26-year-old journalist, who got a notification via Facebook from a company identifying itself as part of the State Department, offering – for a fee – to submit multiple applications for him over 10 years, saying they would do the work to qualify him for an immigrant visa.
He filled in the form out of curiosity, but when he started receiving multiple emails he contacted the U.S. Embassy, which is now reminding Lebanese citizens of the official application process when applying for immigrant visas.
“Some companies will charge money to give people a fake biography, which will immediately disqualify people,” said Adrienne L. Harchik, chief of the consular section at the embassy, who met with journalists Monday to remind the public about the regular occurrence of visa scams. “These companies just take money and give bad advice”
All applications are done electronically, requesting only basic information, so there is no need to hire an outside company to help with the process.
Once the form has been submitted, applicants are given a password, the only way in which they can find out if they’ve been accepted. No emails will be sent to anyone announcing they’ve won, and any correspondence with the embassy will have a “.gov” ending.
The embassy will never ask applicants for money, except for on the day of the interview, where they will be given a receipt. This year’s fee is $884. This money is mainly spent on sophisticated fraud detection.
Each year, around 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through the decades-long Diversity Visa program, to people born in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, meaning fewer than 50,000 immigrants in the past five years. Lebanon is one of these countries.
For more information on visas, go to lebanonembassy.gov.