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ICAE Demystifies the Complex Nature of Degree Accreditation

ICAE has recently joined NACES and AICE in being the only credential evaluation membership organizations with UNESCO approval. What sets ICAE apart is that evaluators also have a complex understanding of curriculum development that meets US regional and national accreditation requirements, setting the highest standard for credential evaluation in the industry.

Credential evaluation goes far beyond simply translating transcripts into English. When ICAE evaluators conclude that a foreign degree is the equivalent of a given US regionally or nationally accredited degree, it means that the degree has been thoroughly reviewed to certify that the requirements for the areas of study necessary to meet US accreditation requirements for that degree have been met.

ICAE works with boards of education as well as US institutions of higher education to develop and review curriculum to submit for accreditation In every degree curriculum, the following areas of study must be met for US accreditation: Natural Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Electives, and a Field of Specialization – the “major.” The sequence of classes taken, including prerequisites, lower level, and higher level classes, are also important to structure curriculum fit for accreditation in the US. Having completed a major factors into this as well. If a student completes the baseline 120 credits required for a US Bachelor’s degree, but has not completed a major, then the terms of graduation have not been met.

It is important to note that a Bachelors of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree are different in that a BA requires at least 3.0 credits of Language Arts or a Liberal Arts component, and a BS requires at least 5.0 credits of Natural Sciences.

When ICAE evaluators review credentials, whether or not the program meets US accreditation requirements for the degree equivalency are examined closely. ICAE members’ advanced understanding of curriculum accreditation requirements makes the organization the ideal resource for the highest standard of credential evaluation services, raising the standard of excellence for the industry. To learn more about ICAE, visit http://www.academicevaluation.org.

Approved! The Feared Level 1 Wage RFE!

This year, CIS has come up with a creative new way to come down on computer programmers petitioning for H1B visa status: Level 1 Wages.

Here’s how they’re justifying this new RFE:

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is what CIS uses as a references to determine whether or not a job is specialized to meet H1B criteria.  For a job to meet these criteria, the candidate must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalentas a minimum requirement to perform the duties of the job.  When it comes to the job of computer programmer, the OOH states that some employers will hire computer programmers for entry level positions with only a US Associate’s degree.  CIS is using this as evidence that computer programmers making Level 1 Wages are entry level and therefore do not meet specialization requirements, as some employers only require an Associates, rather than a Bachelor’s degree to perform the duties of this job.

There are two main problems with this RFE:

1. Level 1 Wage does not mean entry level job.

Many jobs that require more education than an entry level job would – including computer programming – require a lot of supervision and training on the part of the employer.  Recent college graduates coming into the workforce with a Bachelor’s degree but little to no work experience need to be supervised and trained to apply the specialized skills and knowledge they learned in school to the work environment.  That’s why jobs that meet H1B education requirements can be met at Level 1 Wages: employers need to do extra work to help new hires make the transition from college into the work force.

2. The OOH also states most employers require a US Bachelor’s degree for entry level computer programmers.

That’s right, the same source that CIS uses to justify this RFE also states that the norm is for employers to meet H1B requirements for entry level computer programming positions anyway.  Although it does state that some employers will hire to this position with only a US Associate’s degree, it also states that in most cases a US Bachelor’s degree is required, even for jobs at entry level. 

We can use these problems with this RFE to help you or your employee or client gain ground in the RFE response to strengthen their case.  When it comes to this employment issue RFE, CIS is simply wrong.  However, CIS is still the gatekeeper to H1B visa status, and it’s up to us to overturn these RFEs and set the record straight.  This is not an easy task, but at TheDegreePeople.com we have a 90% success rate when answering these RFEs.

To have us review your case, or your employee or client’s case at no charge or obligation, please send the following documents to predocs@cci123.com/

• LCA

• Beneficiary’s resume and educational documents

• Employer support letter

• A detailed job description outlining the duties of the position

• The RFE

We will get back to you in 48 hours or less with a full analysis and, if we can help you, details on pricing and directions on how to order.

CASE STUDY: The Biggest Nightmare RFE Out There

You’ve heard of the Nightmare RFE and the Double Employment Issue RFE. Get ready, because this is about to be terrifying:

This RFE season is the harshest we’ve seen yet. Now, CIS is combining these RFEs. Candidates are now having to defend against requests for evidence regarding every facet of their education AND employment issues. The Nightmare on its own is virtually impossible to answer given the time and evidence demanded. Now, it’s even worse. We could call it the Triple RFE, but the best way to approach it is as one, single, consolidated RFE.

Here’s how:

Go back to the basics. The Nightmare RFE cannot be answered by its own guidelines. Instead, at TheDegreePeople.com, we go back to the original H1B requirements and meet them impeccably. This requires a detailed credential evaluation that may include expert opinion letters, work experience conversions, citing federal case law, international education and labor agreements, and CIS precedent decisions to show that your client meets the educational requirements of both the H1B visa, and their job.

At the same time, we need to address the employment issues. These issues have had to do with whether or not the job in question is adequately specialized to meet H1B requirements. The issue arises when the job indicated on the employer’s Labor Conditions Application doesn’t meet the duties of the job indicated on the H1B petition exactly, and when the employer indicates Wage Level 1 for the H1B job. CIS contests that the job doesn’t match, and also that just because a job is at Wage Level 1 it is not specialized to the point of requiring a US Bachelor’s Degree or higher or its foreign equivalent. An expert opinion letter is needed in these cases that explains the situation, alongside documentation clearly spelling out the specialized responsibilities involved in the job. In many cases, employees start at Wage Level 1 because they are fresh out of college without much work experience, and while their job is adequately specialized, it still requires a lot of guidance and supervision.

You don’t have to address all three issues presented in the biggest Nightmare RFE out there with three separate responses. At TheDegreePeople.com, we have been able to successfully answer every one of these horrid RFEs in one fell swoop with a creative approach and an expert opinion letter that addresses both employment issues. If you’re staring down this terrifying RFE, simply go to ccifree.com/ and let us review your case for free.

Right Education, Wrong Evaluation: Get that H1B RFE Overturned

Did you or your employee or client file with a credential evaluation only to receive an RFE anyway?

The problem is, many credential evaluators don’t understand how to work with visa cases. Think back to when you ordered. Did they ask about the job? Did they ask about the visa? Do they regularly work with RFEs and difficult cases? If the answer is no, then you probably filed with the right education and the wrong evaluation.

Why does this happen?

There are a variety of rcircumstances in which people need credential evaluations. These circumstances require different evaluations. For example, if you or your employee or client is applying for a graduate program in the United States with a high school diploma and college degree from outside of the United States, the credential evaluation will need to cater to the program’s admissions requirements. In most cases, graduate programs will accept a three-year bachelor’s degree as the equivalent of a US four-year bachelor’s degree as meeting program prerequisite requirements with a simple credential evaluation. This will not work for an H1B visa.

With H1B, candidates must have a work experience conversion in their evaluation to account for the missing fourth year of their bachelor’s degree. This can be done only by a professor with the authority to grant college credit for work experience. Three years of progressive work experience in the candidate’s field of employ in which their work became more complex and specialized can be converted into one year of college credit towards a major in that specialization. This is a complex evaluation.

The same kind of conversion is necessary if you or your employee or client has a degree that is not an exact fit for the H1B job. With graduate program admissions, in most cases a degree in a related field is acceptable. This is not the case for H1B approval. Work experience conversion is required for CIS to approve the H1B visa.

Will this conversion work for other visas. No. For example, say you or your employee or client is applying for EB2 status rather than H1B because the ultimate goal is a Green Card. EB2 requirements don’t allow the bachelor’s degree equivalency to be anything but a single source, so combining work experience will not be acceptable in the eyes of CIS.

In essence, it’s easy to end up with the wrong evaluation for the right education. If the candidate has been hired for the job, it’s because they believe she is qualified based on her education, work experience, and expertise. The RFE is your second chance to prove this to CIS as well.

At TheDegreePeople.com, we work with all kinds of visa cases and their RFEs. We know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to CIS approval and overturning even the most difficult RFEs. Before you file your response, let us review your case for free. Simply go to ccifree.com/ and submit the candidate’s educational documents along with a current, accurate resume, and indicate the H1B job. We will get back to your within 24 hours with a pre-evaluation and full analysis of your case and how to best move forward in successfully answering the RFE.

Overturn an H1B Nightmare RFE in Three Steps

It’s RFE season and the prevalence of the dreaded Nightmare RFE is on the rise right along with the rate of RFE responses. We’re not sure what triggers this RFE, and we’re not even sure CIS has the right to make these requests, but they keep on coming.

The Nightmare RFE is virtually impossible to answer by following its own guidelines. However, at TheDegreePeople, we work with these RFEs regularly and with a creative approach have a very high rate of success in getting them overturned and our clients’ visas approved.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Read it.

Sit down with your team and read through the entire RFE carefully. Look at the documentation and evidence that you are being asked to provide. Don’t panic, you won’t have to provide the virtually impossible amount of evidence in the virtually impossible amount of time the RFE states.

  1. Put it down and go back to the original H1B requirements.

This RFE will not tell you how to answer it. The second step is to put the RFE down and return to the initial H1B requirements. In looking at the original H1B requirements in light of the evidence and documentation being requested, you can get a sense of what underlying questions CIS is really trying to answer in requesting the evidence indicated. Answer those underlying questions and you won’t need to jump through the impossible amount of hoops the Nightmare seems to require. Remember, the candidate’s job must be a specialty occupation requiring a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent to perform. The candidate must hold that degree in the exact field of employ or its foreign equivalent. Your client’s employer must be economically viable and pay the H1B worker the prevailing wages for that job for a company of that size in that geographical location. The candidate and the employer must also have an employer-employee relationship in which the employer can hire, fire, promote, pay, supervise, and otherwise control the candidate’s work. Find out which of these requirements were not clearly met, and provide the evidence to fill in the gaps left open in the initial petition.

  1. Go to CCIFREE.COM for a free consultation on how to best proceed.

Visit us for a free consultation on your education situation, or the situation of your employee or client. Oftentimes, what was missing in the original petition was a credential evaluation – or the RIGHT credential evaluation. If you or your employee or client has a degree from outside of the United States, incomplete college, or a degree in a generalized field or field that does not exactly match the H1B job, a credential evaluation is needed so CIS can clearly see the value of the education. Oftentimes, a credential evaluation agency will write an accurate evaluation, but not take the nuances of the H1B visa into account. If you’re wondering why you, or your employee or client got an RFE even though you submitted a credential evaluation, this may be your situation. Did the agency ask about the job or visa? These are two essential components of writing the RIGHT credential evaluation for the H1B visa.

Are you staring down a Nightmare RFE? We can help. Simply go to ccifree.com and submit the candidate’s educational documents and a current, accurate resume and we will get back to you within 24 hours with a full pre-evaluation and analysis, and all of your options moving forward.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of TheDegreePeople.com a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFEs, Denials, or NOIDs, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.

Your Best Solution to the EB2 Education Puzzle

If you or your employee or client is looking into education-based Green Card options, you are well aware of the puzzle EB2 presents. This classification requires the candidate to hold an advanced degree of a US Masters Degree or higher or its foreign equivalent, or a US Bachelors degree or its foreign equivalent followed by at least five years of progressive work experience in the field of their sponsor job. This gets complicated for candidates with education from outside of the United States, because the bachelor’s degree must be a SINGLE SOURCE.

For other visas, as well as for entrance to graduate programs in the US, candidates can combine education with work experience to meet equivalency requirements for a US Bachelors degree. This is not the case for EB2.

If you or your employee or client does not have the education or work experience to meet EB2 education requirements right off the bat, they may still qualify for this classification. There are ways a credential evaluator with in-depth understanding of CIS precedents, federal case law, international education, and international trade agreements can write the evaluation needed to get the visa approved. However, this is NOT a judgment call you can make on your own.

Your best solution to the EB2 education puzzle is to ask for help.

Before you get too far on the petition, let us review the case. Simply go to ccifree.com and submit the candidate’s educational documents and a current, accurate resume, along with the job and desired educational equivalency. We will get back to you within 24 hours with a pre-evaluation and full analysis, and consult with you on your options.

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of TheDegreePeople.com a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.

 

What is a Degree? – Find out Before You File!

RFEs are on the rise across the board for visa candidates. Education RFEs are particularly common for visas like H1B and EB2, which are contingent on the candidate’s advanced degree and skill specialization. Candidates who earned their degrees from outside of the United States run into trouble because educational systems vary across borders, and academic value does not always translate along with the language.

Before you file, make sure you know what education you’re working with. All you have to do is go to ccifree.com, let us know the visa and job, and attach the candidate’s educational documents and resume. Within 24 hours, we will send you a pre-evaluation and full analysis of all of your options. You will know what you’re working with, and be able to move forward accordingly.

It’s not uncommon for candidates to insist that their high school diploma is a college degree, or for a translated document to report a false academic equivalency.

This happens for two main reasons. First, many degrees don’t actually have the word “degree” in the title. When this is translated, it is unclear whether or not the candidate actually has earned the postsecondary education necessary to meet the academic qualifications for their visa. On the same note, some credentials that do have the word degree in the title are not the academic equivalent of US postsecondary education, and some credentials don’t have the word “degree” in the title and are not degrees, period. Some countries have the same titles for different education. For example, the Indian Chartered Accountancy certification is the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in accounting while the Canadian Chartered Accountancy certification is not.

The second reason this happens is because when documents are translated from their original language into English, some degree titles don’t actually have a direct linguistic translation into English. Others do, but the academic value is different. It’s easy for translators to accidentally insert misinformed judgment into the academic value of a degree through translation. It is always best for translators to simply perform a direct translation and then have the documents passed onto a credential evaluator for the next step.

Understanding the value of a foreign degree requires a complex, specialized understanding of international education. Understanding the structures of education and the educational steps required to earn each credential, as well as international trade agreements, graduate program admissions trends, CIS trends and precedents, and federal case law is required to write an accurate evaluation that CIS will understand and accept.

Before you file, make sure you, or your employee or client has the right education for the visa. If you’ve already received an RFE, it’s not too late! Simply go to ccifree.com and submit the educational documents and a current resume, and indicate the visa and job. We will get back to you within 24 hours with a pre-evaluation of your case and all of your options for evaluation.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.

Avoid that EB2 RFE: Sidestep Education Traps

EB2 traps can set your Green Card, or your employee or client’s Green Card back years. Know where they are so you don’t fall into one.

Although it is tempting for candidates to try to meet EB2 qualifications when really their education and employment is a fit for EB3, trying to make education that simply does not work for EB2 fit is a waste of time. Sometimes, the candidate’s education simply does not work for EB2.

However, EB2 education requirements are very specific and equivalencies can be complex. If you or your employee or client DOES meet EB2 educational qualifications, you need to know, and you need to know how to justify this to CIS. Filing for EB2 with the RIGHT education will save you or your employee or client years in limbo. Before you file, take the candidate’s education to a credential evaluation agency that works extensively with EB2 cases and their RFEs and Denials. These agencies understand EB2 education requirements and CIS approval trends for this particular visa. Simply having an expert review your credentials, or your employee or client’s credentials before you file will go leaps and bounds to help you sidestep EB2 education traps.

Here are the main ones to be aware of:

  1. Mismatched Education

If the candidate’s degree is in a field that is not an exact fit for the job offer on the PERM, you can expect an RFE at best. This is a major EB2 education trap because employers will hire candidates with degrees in related fields and work experience in the field, but CIS will not approve their visas. If this is your situation, or your employee or client’s situation, you will need a very detailed and specific credential evaluation to write the US academic equivalency of the right degree in the right specialization. CIS has very strict requirements about how you can meet these equivalency requirements when it comes to EB2. Talk to a credential evaluator to see if you can make this equivalency work with your, or your employee or client’s education and work experience. The answer may be no. If this is the case, don’t be tempted to pull one over on CIS. This will not work.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree Equivalency is not a Single Source

EB2 education requirements state that to qualify a candidate must hold a US bachelor’s degree FOLLOWED BY at least five years of progressive work experience in the field, OR a US Master’s degree or higher in the field. If you or your employee or client has a bachelor’s degree from outside of the United States, or a US degree in the wrong field, you will need an equivalency that is a SINGLE SOURCE. CIS accepts three years of progressive work experience in the field as the equivalent of one year of US college credit towards a degree in that specialization. Likewise, following having earned a bachelor’s degree, CIS counts fives years of progressive work experience in your client’s field of employ as the equivalent of a US Master’s degree in the field provided that a bachelor’s degree was a minimum requirement for the job itself.

This gets tricky real fast. We always recommend taking your or your employee or client’s education and a current, accurate resume to a credential evaluation agency that works regularly with EB2 visas and their RFEs, and that also works with college professors with the authority to grant college credit for work experience. Your will need to have the work experience necessary to provide a SINGLE SOURCE bachelor’s degree equivalency. This requirement is complex and requires expertise to determine whether you or your employee or client can qualify, and to provide the evidence, analysis, and documentation necessary to explain this to CIS in the petition.

  1. Poorly Translated Documents

Candidates fall into EB2 education traps when they provide mistranslated or misevaluated documents. Some degrees simply don’t translate into English and retain their academic value. Some translation agencies have begun to provide evaluation services that are attractive to candidates wanting to save time and money. However, evaluation is a completely different, highly specialized service because of the complex nature of foreign academic differentiations and the fact that degrees with the same name hold different academic values between countries. Some degrees with different names hold the same equivalency. For example, Indian Chartered Accountancy is the foreign equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in Accounting while the Canadian Chartered Accountancy and US CPA are not the equivalent of that advanced degree. This sort of problem comes up when academic value gets lost in translation, or when a translator takes credential evaluation liberties without the knowledge to assure accuracy.

To sidestep this EB2 education trap, if your or your employee or client’s educational documents need to be translated and evaluated, make this a two-step process. Do NOT compromise on this. You would never take credentials to an evaluation agency for translation! Get them translated into English first, then take them to a credential evaluation agency. Agencies that work regularly with EB2 visas can identify common translation errors and make academic value judgments accordingly.

To avoid these EB2 education traps, simply visit ccifree.com and attach all educational documents and a current, accurate resume, along with the job title. We will get back to you within 24 hours with a pre-evaluation of your case, or your employee or client’s case, and a full analysis of all of your options.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of TheDegreePeople.com a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.

Your H1B Solutions for the Generalized Degree

H1B visa eligibility boils down to two things:

  1. Specialized Job
  2. Specialized Education

Successful candidates meet both of these requirements by having a job that requires an advanced degree – a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent – to perform, and the accompanying education required to perform it. CIS requires this education to be specialized precisely to the field. That’s where candidates run into trouble come filing season.

Do you, or does your employee or client have a generalized degree or a degree specialization is a field other than the job? Then you need a credential evaluation. Even if the degree is from a US institution, CIS requires a degree equivalency in the exact specialization of the candidate’s job. For example, a business degree will not cut it for a job in finance. A sociology degree will not cut it for a job in psychology. A job in biology requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in biology – not chemistry, geology, or physics.

If you or your employee or client has a generalized degree or a degree mismatched to their job, take the transcripts and work experience to a credential evaluator who works regularly with H1B visas and their RFEs. Evaluators who work regularly with RFEs understand what triggers them and how to prevent them. CIS approval trends regarding education have changed in the past six or seven years, and one of those changes is that the degree specialization must be an EXACT match for the job offer. The evaluator can take a close look at the course content of the candidate’s education, and combine that with progressive work experience in the field to write the evaluation you need to prove educational specialization.

Be sure that the evaluation agency you work with has professors on hand who are authorized to issue college credit for work experience. This way, the candidate’s years of work experience in the field can be converted into college credit counting towards their specialized major equivalency. CIS accepts a three years of progressive work experience to one year of college credit in the field equivalency for the H1B visa. Consult with your evaluator to make sure you or your employee or client has the right kind of work experience – and enough of it – before you order your evaluation.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.

Your H1B Job and Education: Tips for Proving Specialization

The key term when it comes to H1B eligibility is specialization. H1B visa status is for foreign workers with advanced degrees working specialty occupations. These jobs require a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent as a minimum requirement. Additionally, CIS requires the degree to be in the exact specialization of the job, as has been proven by recurrent CIS approval trends over the past five plus years.

If you or your employee or client is applying for H1B visa status, you have two jobs:

  1. Clearly show that the job is a specialty occupation.
  2. Clearly show that the candidate has the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to perform the duties of this occupation.

You can do this by providing evidence and documentation about the nature of the beneficiary’s job and education.

Proving Occupational Specialization

To do this, you must clearly show that the job requires the minimum H1B educational requirements to perform. In the petition, include the ad for the job showing with the minimum requirements are. Also include ads for similar jobs in the same industry to show that this level of specialization is standard for this specific occupation, and not just tailored to meet the needs of you or your employee or client’s visa.

If the job does require unique specialization that similar jobs for similar companies do not, include an expert opinion letter about why this is the case. Industry experts, a detailed explanation from the employer, and other reputable professionals are necessary to prove that the job meets H1B specialization requirements.

Proving Educational Specialization

Once you have clearly shown that the job is a specialty occupation, now you must show that you or your employee or client meets the educational requirements for the job, H1B requirements, and CIS approval trends.

To do this, you or your employee or client must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent in the exact field of the specialty occupation. That means if the job is in Computer Systems Analysis, the degree must be in Computer Systems Analysis. If the job is in Chemistry, the degree must be in Chemistry.

If you or your employee or client holds a degree in a related field, this will not work for CIS. What also won’t work for CIS is having a degree from outside of the US. Both of these situations require an extra step when organizing the petition: credential evaluation.

Take the beneficiary’s education and work experience to a foreign credential evaluator with experience working with H1B visas and their RFEs. These evaluators know what CIS is looking for and what tends to trigger an RFE. They understand what CIS needs to evidence equivalency, and these needs change. For example, if you or your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree from India, CIS will not accept that this is the equivalency of a US four-year bachelor’s degree even if it has the same or greater number of college credit hours. CIS needs a work experience conversion, wherein three years of progressive work experience in the field can be converted to one year of college credit in the field by a professor with the authority to do this. Many credential evaluation agencies work with professors with this authority for this very reason. This conversion can also be used to write an equivalency to the degree in the correct field to prove that you have, or your employee or client has the specialized skills and knowledge necessary for the specific H1B job.

If you or your employee or client has a degree from outside of the United States, or a degree in the wrong specialization, do NOT submit the petition without a credential evaluation. Without one, you have not proven specialization, which is the key aspect of this visa.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.