By Ray O’Hanlon and Andrew Bushe
Visa seminars being reorganized by the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York have been packed to capacity," according to the center’s deputy director, Ann Marie Scanlon.
The seminars, in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, attracted about 250 people in total.
They coincided with the current application period for the Schumer diversity visas.
Scanlon said the numbers attending were about the same as last year in the Bronx, but that there had been a threefold increase in Queens and Brooklyn.
"In addition we are getting about 20 to 30 people a day coming to the center to get our free visa application advice package, we are also receiving many phone calls and self-addressed envelopes," she said.
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
Scanlon said the center’s assessment of the response to its advice program was that the problem of undocumented Irish immigrants in the U.S. is worsening.
"The situation is being made even more critical due to the fact that the number of Irish obtaining Schumer diversity visas in recent years has been declining sharply," she said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Dublin has warned about companies preying on green card hopefuls by offering to increase their chances of getting the coveted entry permits.
Would-be emigrants have been alerted to avoid "middleman scams" that charge exorbitant fees and make unrealistic claims.
"There is no need to pay money to anyone. Any information or help that people may need is available free of charge from the embassy," a spokesperson said, noting that no service can improve an applicants chances for winning in the random drawing.
The registration period for the Schumer DV-2002 visas runs until noon on Nov. 1 when all entries must be received.
There are 50,000 visas being made available in the lottery to countries all around the world. No country can get more than seven percent of the total.
While Britain is not eligible, those born in Northern Ireland are. The Republic and the North are treated as separate entities, so Irish people on both sides of the border could qualify for a total of 7,000 green cards.
Irish people must mail their entries to the DV-2002 Program, Kentucky Consular Center, Lexington, KY 41905.
Those applying must have a pass Leaving Certificate or equivalent or two years work experience in a skilled occupation. They do not have to have an offer of a job.
There is no fee to apply but those sending multiple applications risk disqualification. Use of fax, express or priority mail will mean the application won’t be processed.
Notification of winners will be sent out between next April and July.
Full details of how to apply on a plain sheet of paper are available from the embassy or on the website http://www.travel.state.gov.