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Diversity Visa Program

Confirm Your Qualifications

The Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program requires the principal DV applicant to have a high school education, or its equivalent, or two years of qualifying work experience as defined under provisions of U.S. law.

If you do not have either the required education or qualifying work experience, you are not eligible for a diversity visa. (Only you, as the principal applicant, must meet this requirement. Your spouse and children do not have to meet this requirement.) You should consider not pursuing a DV application if you do not meet the qualifying education or work experience requirements explained below as you may not be eligible for a diversity visa and any fees you pay for the visa application will not be refunded.

High School Education: A high school education means successful completion of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to a 12-year course in the United States.  Only formal courses of study meet this requirement; equivalency certificates (such as the G.E.D.) are not acceptable.

Work Experience: If you are qualifying with work experience, you must have two years of experience in the last five years, in an occupation which, by U.S. Department of Labor definitions, requires at least two years of training or experience that is designated as Job Zone 4 or 5, classified in a Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) rating of 7.0 or higher. 

The U.S. Department of Labor provides information on job duties, knowledge and skills, education and training, and other occupational characteristics on their website http://www.onetonline.org/. The O*Net online database groups work experience into five "job zones." While many occupations are listed, only two years of experience in certain specified occupations qualify an individual for a Diversity Visa.

How to Find the Qualifying Occupations on the Department of Labor Website: Qualifying DV Occupations are shown on the Department of Labor O*Net Online Database. Follow these steps when you are in O*Net Online to find out if your occupation may qualify you for a Diversity Visa:

  • Under "Find Occupations" select "Job Family" from the pull down;
  • Then Browse by “Job Family”. (For example, select Architecture and Engineering) and click "GO";
  • Then click on the link for your specific occupation. (As an example, select Aerospace Engineers. At the bottom of this Summary Report for Aerospace Engineers, under the Job Zone section, you will find the designated Job Zone 4, SVP Range, 7.0 to < 8.0. This means using this example, Aerospace Engineering is a qualifying occupation.)

Passport Requirement: Beginning with entries for DV-2021, the Department of State’s regulations require all entrants to provide a valid passport number at the time of DV entry, unless they are unable to obtain a passport and fall under one of three limited exemptions. You should consider not pursuing a DV application if you listed a false or invalid passport number on your DV entry, or if you selected an exemption from the passport requirement and you did not meet the requirements for that exemption, as you may not be eligible for a diversity visa and any fees you pay for the visa application will not be refunded. (Only you, as the principal applicant, must meet this requirement. Your spouse and children do not have to meet this requirement.)

Exemptions from the Passport Requirement: The Department of State’s regulations provide for three limited exemptions from the passport requirement.  These three exemptions include: individuals who are stateless, nationals of a Communist-controlled country who are unable to obtain a passport from the government of the Communist-controlled country, and beneficiaries of individual waivers approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State. If you selected one of these exemptions on your DV entry, you will be required to explain how you meet one of the three exemptions. The exemptions apply only to individuals who are unable to obtain a passport. If you selected an exemption because of a delay in obtaining a passport, whether or not that delay was within your control, you do not qualify for an exemption and you may not be eligible for a diversity visa. You should consider not pursuing a DV application if you selected one of the exemptions on your DV entry and you do not in fact fall into one of the exempted categories, as you may not be eligible for a diversity visa and any fees you pay for the visa application will not be refunded.

  • Stateless Individuals: In general, statelessness is a rare situation. If on your DV entry you checked the box corresponding to this exemption, you must provide evidence to establish that you did not acquire the nationality of your country of birth under the laws of that country and that you do not have any other nationality.
  • Nationals of a Communist-controlled country: If, on your DV entry, you checked the box corresponding to this exemption, you must provide evidence to establish that you are unable to obtain a passport from the government of your country of nationality.
  • Beneficiaries of individual waivers: If, on your DV entry, you checked the box corresponding to this exemption, you must provide evidence that you are unable to obtain a passport, and the reason you should receive an individual passport waiver, such as:
    1)    A previous U.S. visa issued to you on form DS-232 because you were unable to obtain a passport, and that the same reasons that you previously sought a passport waiver still apply;
    2)    Form I-193 approved by USCIS because you were unable to obtain a passport, and that the same reasons that you previously sought a passport waiver still apply; or
    3)    Documentation showing that you have been granted refugee status in a country other than your country of nationality because you have been persecuted by the government of your country of nationality, making it impossible for you to obtain a passport from that government without experiencing further harm.

Again, you should consider not pursuing a DV application if you do not meet the qualifying education or work experience requirements explained above, or if you provided an invalid passport number with your entry or selected an exemption for which you do not qualify.  Such errors may render you ineligible for a diversity visa and any fees you pay for the visa application will not be refunded.

For more information, see the DV-2020 Instructions, Frequently Asked Questions #5-7, and the DV-2021 Instructions, Frequently Asked Questions #5-7.