US 2017 Green Card applicants are warned to be on the lookout for online scams and fraudsters looking to make a profit.

The Diversity Visa Lottery (DV-2017 Program) opened on October 1, accepting online applications for a 2017 US Green Card until November 3. The Lottery will award a total of 50,000 green cards to those of eligible nationalities with a maximum of 3,500 awarded to Irish applicants.

However, US Immigration lawyer Deirdre O’Brien has warned applicants of the dangers of third parties offering to complete the application for a fee, and branded those promising greater chances of winning a place in the lottery as scams and fraudsters looking to make a profit off applicants.

O’Brien, a lawyer with New-York based firm O’Brien & Associates, also warned against sites feigning to be the official lottery website and encouraged applicants to proceed with caution to avoid such scams.

Take some time this weekend to apply for #DVlottery. It's free! Check out our blog:

— Deirdre O'Brien (@usvisaexpert) October 10, 2015

“The only way to apply is through the appropriate US department of state website and applications are free,” O’Brien told the Irish Times.

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

READ MORE: How hard is it for Irish people to come to America today?

O’Brien tells of a recent scam in which applicants were asked to send money via Western Union to a person said to be an employee in the US embassy - the email and the employee both being fictitious. She also warns that any email looking for money in relation to the Green Card application is likely to be a scam.

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

#DVLottery season is going on now through November 3. Avoid scams, remember there is no fee to enter the lottery

— U.S. Embassy Dublin (@USEmbassyDublin) October 6, 2015

The Diversity Lottery opened at the beginning of October, accepting applications from those with at least a secondary-level (high school) education (or an equivalent 12-year course of formal education) or two-years work experience in the last five years in an occupation that requires at least two-years training or work experience.

Only individuals born in eligible countries or those born to parents born in an eligible country may apply. All applications must be submitted online.

The DV-2017 Program recommends that applicants fill out the electronic forms themselves and do not use a “visa consultant,” “visa agent,” or other facilitators who offer to help. If somebody else does fill out your form, it is recommended that you are present when they are doing so.

READ MORE: J-1 series: How to stay in the US after the J-1 Visa.

O’Brien also states that it should not be necessary to hire a lawyer to process your Green Card application and any claims from those stating they can help with the process, or those offering a better chance of acceptance should be ignored.

The #DiversityVisa #GreencardLottery 2017 opened Oct 1. Beware of scams! For details and valid site for entry, see:

— Deirdre O'Brien (@usvisaexpert) October 2, 2015