How to Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility

Written by brad chacos
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How to Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility
Veterans need a certificate of eligibility for certain loans. (veterano de gerra image by Norberto Lauria from

Certificates of eligibility are used by a certifying agency, usually a governmental agency, to verify that an individual or organisation have met the eligibility requirements for a certain task or program. Certificates of eligibility are needed to perform tasks as widely varied as applying for a preapproved Department of Veterans Affairs home loan, transferring or selling ownership of a firearm in New Jersey, receiving a J-1 nonimmigration visa or requesting that criminal records be expunged or sealed in the state of Florida.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Determine if you meet the desired certificate's eligibility requirements. For example, to receive a certificate of eligibility for a Department of Veterans Affairs loan, you must be retired from or in active duty for the U.S. military.

  2. 2

    Identify what is needed to meet eligibility requirements. If they are not currently met, then achieve them. For example, to have criminal records expunged in Florida, predefined lengths of time must have passed since the defendant was found guilty. Usually, no certificate of eligibility will be issued and the records will not be expunged until this length of time passes.

  3. 3

    Gather any necessary paperwork for the certificate. Veterans should make a copy of their discharge papers and separation documents. People applying for a firearm transfer in New Jersey should fill out the certificate of eligibility with all the necessary information.

  4. 4

    Bring or mail all the necessary documents and any other required materials to the office that supplies the certificate of eligibility. Ensure you file the correct manner of paperwork: some certifying agencies want to see original paperwork or a certified copy, such as when international students apply for a certificate of eligibility for Northeastern University's "Declaration of Finances" report, while the Department of Veterans Affairs requires a photocopy of your DD214 discharge papers and does not want originals.

  5. 5

    Wait until you hear whether your application was accepted or denied. Depending on the certifying agency, you can be certified at the time of application or it may take longer to hear the results -- approval for the Japanese "Certificate of Eligibility for Status of Residence" can take up to three months. Acceptance often arrives in the form of the certificate of eligibility, while denials are often accompanied by an explanation of how to appeal the decision.

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