9 FAM 42.33 N7 “HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION OR EQUIVALENT”
The consular office must adjudicate the applicant’s qualifications under this requirement. In order to register for the DV program, the alien need not prove that this requirement is met. The applicant must, however, meet this requirement at the time of visa application.
9 FAM 42.33 N7.1 Definitions
The Department’s interpretation of the term “high school education or its equivalent” means successful completion of a:
(1) Twelve-year course of elementary and secondary study in the United States; or
(2) Formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completion of 12 years elementary or secondary education in the United States. Because a United States high school education is sufficient in itself to qualify a student to apply for college admission, in order for a foreign education to be equivalent to a United States education, it should be sufficient to allow a student to apply for college admission without further education. Vocational degrees that are not considered a basis for further academic study will not be considered equivalent to United States high school education.
9 FAM 42.33 N7.2 Education Requirements
We interpret the phrase “high school education or its equivalent” to apply only to formal courses of study. Equivalency certificates (such as the G.E.D.) are not acceptable. To qualify, an alien must have completed a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education in the United States or a comparable course of study in another country. Evidence might consist of a certificate of completion equivalent to a United States diploma, school transcripts, or other evidence issued by the person or organization responsible for maintaining such records, which specify the completed course of study.
9 FAM 42.33 N7.3 Education Evaluation
a. Each post needs to determine what course of study is equivalent to a high school education or its equivalent in the host country. Previously, posts were provided with a guidebook that provided information on high school equivalency country by country. That guidebook ("Foreign Education Credentials Required”) is no longer in print and is not available in updated format. You should not rely on it for your evaluation of high school credentials. You should make use of the resources found in your Public Diplomacy (PD) section to determine comparable courses of study in the host country that would meet the definition of a high school education or its equivalent. Contacts in the host country’s Ministry of Education may also be of help. If you have questions about certificates and diplomas, you should consult with your public diplomacy section, including EducationUSA advisors and locally engaged staff, as they are valuable resources in evaluating local education systems. PD personnel advise prospective students and evaluate their educational backgrounds and have experience with and knowledge of local schools. To determine the authenticity of any particular document, you will need to work with your Fraud Prevention staff to develop expertise in making that determination. Interviewing officers may wish to consult with other posts when in doubt about the authenticity of educational certificates from countries outside their consular district.
b. A DV refusal must be based on evidence that the alien did not in fact obtain the required degree and not on your assessment of the alien's knowledge level. You may not administer an exam, either oral or written, to test an applicant’s basic knowledge in order to determine whether they have the equivalent of a U.S. high school education. You may not refuse a DV applicant solely on the basis of your analysis of the applicant's basic knowledge. Doubts about the applicant’s claimed educational level raised by your interview, however, may lead you to investigate the authenticity of the educational credentials claimed by the DV applicant.