Do You Meet the Education or Work Experience Requirements of the Diversity Visa Program?

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Although the Diversity Visa (DV) program has fewer eligibility requirements than many other U.S. visas or green cards, that doesn’t mean it’s open to any and every applicant. Even if you are from an eligible country, as described in the article “Winning a Green Card Through the Visa Lottery,” you must also have sufficient qualifications to find employment in the United States.

What’s more, you will need to prove your qualifications, although not until later in the application process, after your name has been selected.That will mean providing evidence of either:

  1. receipt of a high school diploma (or evidence that you have completed a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education), or
  2. a minimum of two years’ experience within the past five years in a job that requires at least two years of training.

Even though you do not need to have this proof available at the time of applying for the DV lottery, you should make sure that you meet the above employability qualifications before submitting a lottery entry. If you are not qualified to enter the DV lottery and you enter anyways and win, your visa or green card application will be rejected and any filing fees and related expenses (such as attorneys’ fees) will be your responsibility.

When to Submit Proof of Your Experience and Education

When, exactly, will you have to provide proof of your employability and education? Applicants who are chosen in the lottery must provide this evidence during their visa or green card interview. This is most likely to take place at the U.S. consulate in your home country; though if you are legally present in the U.S., and will apply using the procedure known as “adjustment of status,” it will take place at an office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

When preparing your documents, think carefully about what you are willing to give up, permanently, to a U.S. government official’s file. So, for example, you might prepare a copy of your high school diploma (with appropriate translation), but also bring the original, for the consular or USCIS official to examine. Or, if you will be providing a letter from your employer ensuring that you have held your job for at least two years during the past five years, you might give up the original -- but should make a copy for your files.

Are Your Experience and Education Sufficient by U.S. Standards?

The concept of a “high school” education can mean different things in different countries. A high school diploma for purposes of the DV lottery is proof that the applicant successfully completed a course of elementary and secondary education that is equivalent to the 12-year course of study in the United States.

Applicants who did not complete high school and instead passed an equivalency exam or a course correspondence course will not be considered high school graduates (for DV visa purposes). They must instead prove that they have work experience in a qualifying occupation.

In order to determine which occupations qualify for the work experience requirement, the Department of State uses the Department of Labor’s O*Net website at http://www.onetonline.org. There, applicants can look up their occupations to determine whether they are considered specialized enough for the green card lottery.

Winners of the green card lottery without a high school education must hold a position in a Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) range of 7.0 or higher. Both the zone number and SVP range can be located on the O*Net summary for the specific occupation.

For example, let’s say your background was as a Construction Carpenter. This is classified on O*Net as a Job Zone 2 occupation with an SVP range of 4.0 to <6.0. Therefore, this occupation will not qualify you for the DV lottery. 

If your research indicates that you do not qualify for the DV program, you might wish to consult a qualified immigration attorney to see what other avenues are available by which to live and work in the United States. If you have a qualifying spouse who meets the DV requirements and is successful in the lottery, you may be able to come to the United States on a DV-2 visa.

 

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