Foreign High School Diploma

January 4, 2016

The Program Integrity Q&A Website has been recently updated in response to questions about acceptable documentation for foreign high school diplomas.  As the New Year begins, we remind you to review your current policies and procedures and make adjustments as needed.  The following are the two questions with answers as posted by the Office of Postsecondary Education in regards to foreign high school diplomas (

Foreign High School Diploma (FHD)

FHD-Q1. Is a high school diploma from a foreign country recognized as a valid diploma?

FHD-A1. Yes, if the institution determines whether the foreign secondary school credentials are evidence of completing the equivalent of a secondary education in the United States. Institutions that do not have the expertise to make that determination themselves may use a foreign diploma evaluation service. [Guidance issued 1/24/2014]

FHD-Q2. What documentation may an institution accept to verify high school completion status for an applicant who indicates that he or she cannot obtain documentation of his or her completion of a secondary school education in a foreign country?

FHD-A2. In most cases, applicants who completed their secondary school education in a foreign country will be able to obtain a copy of their foreign high school diploma or transcript. Applicants may also document their high school completion status by obtaining a copy of a “secondary school leaving certificate” (or a similar document) from the Ministry of Education in the country where they completed secondary school. For assistance in obtaining documentation of their secondary school education completion, applicants may contact the foreign high school, the Ministry of Education or that country’s consulate in the United States. There may be rare cases where it is impossible for a refugee, an asylee, or a victim of human trafficking to obtain documentation of his or her completion of a secondary school education in a foreign country. Therefore, in these rare cases, applicants must submit to the institution:

  1. Proof of their attempt to obtain documentation of their completion of a secondary school education in a foreign country, i.e., a copy of an e-mail or letter, including proof of mailing;
  2. A signed and dated statement that indicates that the applicant completed his or her secondary school education in a foreign country, the name and address of the foreign high school where the applicant completed the secondary school education and the date when the foreign high school diploma was awarded.
  3. A copy of the entry status documentation that identifies the applicant’s current or prior status as a refugee, an asylee, or as a victim of human trafficking and who entered the United States after the age of 15. [Guidance issued 1/24/2014; revised 12/15/2015]


This material is presented for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be giving legal advice.

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