The DV lottery instructions seem to confuse people about the main requirements for the DV lottery process. The first requirement is about country of eligibility which I will address in another post. The second requirement is education/work experience. So I would like to address some common misconceptions. The rules say this.

Requirement #2: In addition, to meet the education/work experience requirement of the DV program,
you must have either:

a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of
elementary and secondary education;


two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two
years of training or experience to perform. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online
database will be used to determine qualifying work experience.

I highlight the either/OR because that is the first misconception – You only need to qualify by one or the other, not both. If you meet the education requirement you do not have to worry about proving work experience.

The second misconception is that each adult (husband and wife) needs to meet the requirement #2. That is normally not the case (the exception being to do with cross charging which I will explain in another post). The principal selectee only needs to meet the requirement.

OK so let’s look at the two options. The first is the simplest and best way to qualify.

Education requirement

The intent of this requirement is to take in immigrants that have achieved an education equivalent to a USA High School education. Note the “USA” part. They are dealing with immigrants from all over the world and needed to establish some “level” in USA terms that can be compared to other countries. So – the level they chose is High school. This is the point at which an American child has graduated high school  and is qualified to enter s US University (college).

The term High school is confusing. For instance, in the UK where I was educated, “High school” ended at 16 years old – and that would NOT be sufficient to meet the DV requirement. In UK terms a child would have to attend 2 further years of education beyond 16 years old (receiving “A levels”) to be qualified to enter a University – and that is the level required therefore. Other countries will have other standards – and each embassy is able to set the level required based on their understanding. This has led to some changes over the years that has caught people out. Some embassies publish specific and quite detailed information such as this information for DV2015 from the Kenyan US embassy or the information from the embassy in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka by the way was a recent example of changing their standards and there are some sad stories about that on the internet.

There is a page which offers a listing for many countries here. However, be very careful with the information as it is not 100% accurate or up to date and some countries will have varied their requirements (again Sri Lanka is an example).

So – hopefully by now you have understood that there is a minimum requirement for your country. The various embassy websites are a good place to get information on the level required.

Does a higher education satisfy the education requirement???

Another common question I get asked is “I have a Bachelors degree/masters or whatever, surely I don’t have to show my High school A levels/High school diploma”.  The answer is a bit of a grey area. It makes sense that someone having gained their masters or whatever must have met the requirements BUT there are some exceptions to that logic. For example, it is possible to obtain a Masters degree without having finished 12 years of elementary and secondary education and for that reason some Consular Officers will be “picky” about seeing the HIgh School level proof. There have been many reported cases where COs have insisted on this and I am sure there have been cases of denials based on this.

Vocational education

The rules specifically exclude vocational education as being used to qualify on education grounds. For example, if a selectee were to leave school at 16 and then immediately or later go into a vocational program such as teaching or nursing, the time spent in that vocational training/education could not be used to satisfy the educational requirement. In cases such as this, the selectee may need to consider whether their work experience is sufficient to meet the requirement #2.

Work Experience requirement

Ok let’s say you cannot qualify on education grounds. It is possible to base your eligibility on your work experience – although doing so is harder than education so you would only use this as a fallback method. Why is it harder, well with education you either do or you don’t meet the requirement. You present your proof and as long as you understood the standard correctly you are done. Work experience cases are “judged” by the CO based on the proof you can supply at the interview. They are subjective therefore – it is a matter of how well you can convince the CO that you meet the requirement.

So ok – what is the requirement? The instructions say it is 2 years experience, gained in the previous 5 years, in a job that meets the standard described in the O*Net database. The standard to be met is a job that is classified  in job zone 4 or 5 with a SVP (Specific Vocational Preparation) rating of 7.0 or higher. Not all jobs will meet that criteria – it is generally jobs which require a higher level of education, or skills.

How do you check your job? Well you navigate to the O*Net database and enter your approximate job title in the Occupation Search field. You will get a list of similar jobs and you should find the one that is closest to your work by title. For example I typed in “teachers” and from there I chose “Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education“. Scroll down the page and find the section “Job Zone” as shown here:-jobzone

You can see that Kindergarten teachers is a job at the correct qualifying level.  However if you look at a Teachers Assistant – then you can see that is NOT a qualifying job.

Sometimes of course your exact job title will not appear. You can choose a similar job that explains what you do and if necessary you might want to detail your job duties to show they align well with the skills, tasks and so on of the job you wish to use as proof.

How to present the case…

OK – you believe you have found the right job description in the O*Net database. You are soon to attend the interview – how do you prepare.

Well first of all, you have to understand that your credibility will come in to play. The CO has some latitude about how they approve these work experience cases, your task is to give them a good case to be able to approve you.

I would suggest preparing a well organized and professional looking file to include as much as possible of the following:-

  1. The print out from of the job to which you are aligning your experience.
  2. Employment letters such as job offers, promotion letters and so on.
  3. Letters (preferably notarized) from current and former managers, colleagues and so on.
  4. A description of your day to day duties in the roles covering a minimum of 2 years.
  5. Details of any vocational training or education that supports you in your job.
  6. Examples of work product if possible/applicable.

Make this as complete as possible. As I said your credibility counts, so look professional, have a professional demeanor and make sure what you present is well presented, free of typos etc. You generally should not need professional help in preparing this file – and if you think about it the use of a professional could cause the CO to question whether yuou are really at the level you are claiming.

It is worth spending some time on this point, if you fail to convince the CO and have not qualified on education you will be denied and there is no appeal process (if processing outside of the USA).

OK hope that helps. Feel free to comment or ask questions below, I will come back to you as fast as possible.

I recently created a video on this same subject – so feel free to look at that too.