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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.

 

 

Your Most Common H1B RFE for 2017

Looking back on the past few years, we see one occupation that stands out for getting the most H1B RFEs year after year. In 2017, we predict that this trend will remain intact. The answer is – Computer Systems Analysis.

This occupation receives the very most H1B RFEs every year because CIS education trends have required candidates to hold a degree in the exact field of their specialty occupation. Computer Systems Analysis is an EXTREMELY rare degree. In fact, the only schools in the United States in which a student can earn a bachelor’s degree in Computer Systems Analysis allow for self-designed majors. In India, there is a BCA in Computer Systems Analysis, but this degree will not work for H1B eligibility on its own because it is a three-year bachelor’s degree. CIS requires the fourth year included in a US bachelor’s degree to be accounted for. The only degree we have not seen trigger an RFE in this case is a US Master’s degree for Computer Analysis.

If you hold, or if your employee or client holds one of the few US bachelor’s degrees in Computer Systems Analysis, or a US Master’s in Computer Analysis, you probably don’t have to worry about an education RFE. However, if this isn’t the case, it’s always easier to prevent an RFE in the first place than to have to answer one.

If you have, or if your employee or client has an Indian BCA in Computer Systems Analysis, you need to account for the missing fourth year of education to meet the US equivalency requirements. To do this, talk to a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of progressive work experience into college credit. Three years working in the field of Computer Systems Analysis in which it can be shown that you or your employee or client took on more responsibility and complexity in their work can be converted into the missing year of college credit towards the degree specialization of Computer Systems Analysis. If you or your employee or client does not have this degree, the same progressive work experience conversion along with a detailed evaluation that includes college coursework in the field of Computer Systems Analysis can be employed to write an equivalency to a US Bachelor’s or Master’s of Computer Systems Analysis.

Before you file, talk to a credential evaluator who can review your case, or your employee or client’s case and see that the college credit and work experience necessary to write the evaluation you or your employee or client needs is there. When there is high risk of RFE, it is necessary to consult with someone experienced in working with H1B RFEs.

From all of us at TheDegreePeople.com, Happy New Year!

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.

How to Find the Right Credential Evaluator for an H-1B RFE

It’s RFE season! Amongst the most common H-1B RFEs applicants receive this time of year have to do with education.

H-1B visa eligibility is dependent on be beneficiary having an advanced degree with specialized skills and knowledge necessary to perform the specialty occupation they were hired for. This means the beneficiary must have a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent in a specialization that exactly matches their job offer. Due to the specificity of these requirements, even if you, or your employee or client did submit a credential evaluation along with the initial petition, the evaluation may not meet CIS requirements for this particular visa.

Finding the right credential evaluator to answer an H-1B RFE is the difference between success and rejection. The evaluator you want to work with can be found with these five questions:

  1. Do they offer a free review of the case?

An evaluator cannot know what services must be provided – or whether or not your education, or your employee or client’s education and work experience will even work for the H-1B visa at all – without reviewing your employment history, or your employee or client’s employment history and educational documents. You received an education RFE. Before you answer it, make sure you CAN answer it successfully with what you, or your employee or client has to work with, and what needs to be done to write the equivalency that will accurately meet H-1B education standards. If an agency or evaluator asks for payment before looking into what needs to be done, look elsewhere.

  1. Are they easy to work with?

The evaluator who you want to work with is one who wants to work with you. Answering an RFE means you have to collect a lot of documentation – some not so easy to secure – in a short amount of time. Don’t waste your time working with an evaluator who doesn’t answer your calls, your text, your emails, or your questions to your satisfaction. Being easy to work with also means they are affordable and offer rush delivery options. When it comes to credential evaluation agencies, you don’t “get what you pay for.” The best ones tend to be inexpensive.

  1. Did they ask about the visa?

A common cause of an education RFE is that the evaluator wrote the right evaluation for the wrong visa. Many evaluation agencies will write a standard evaluation of your credentials, or your employee or client’s credentials without regard for the particular, unique educational requirements for the H-1B visa. Educational requirements, as well as approval trends and standards surrounding what education and work experience can be combined to write an equivalency vary from visa to visa. For example, an H-1B beneficiary may combine work experience and college credit to write an acceptable equivalency to a US bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, an EB2 beneficiary who tries to do the same thing will fail because for that particular visa the bachelor’s degree must be a single source. The evaluation must lend itself to the visa in question to be successful.

  1. Did they ask about the job offer?

Just like the particular visa requirements, the evaluation must also lend itself to the client’s job offer. In the past, CIS has accepted petitions in which the beneficiary holds a degree in a field related to the job offer. This is not the case anymore. Now CIS requires beneficiaries to have a degree in their exact field of employ. This is because H-1B visas are for beneficiaries working specialized occupations, with knowledge and skills specialized to their field. While an employer will look at a candidate’s education and work experience and see that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to work their job, if the degree is not in the field, CIS will require more evidence. If your credential evaluator doesn’t ask about your job, or your employee or client’s job, he or she does not understand this and you need to look elsewhere. If your degree, or your employee or client’s degree is in a mismatched field, a credential evaluator with the authority to convert progressive work experience in the field into college credit in that specialization is exactly who you need to be working with.

  1. Do the often work with RFEs, Denials, and NOIDs?

The credential evaluator you want is one who does not shy away from difficult cases. You, or your employee or client received an RFE, so you want to work with an evaluation agency with extensive experience answering them. It’s important to keep in mind that the roadmap to answering the RFE is NOT IN THE RFE ITSELF. Especially with RFEs like the Nightmare – which is virtually impossible to answer if you follow its instructions – guidance from those who know the terrain and can navigate it successfully is essential to success. Evaluators that work with these kinds of cases know what CIS is looking for in the documentation they request, know what triggers and RFE, and what works and what does not in answering it. These evaluators follow CIS approval trends, which change from year to year.

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.

 

 

Fall into an H-1B Education Trap? Fix that RFE!

The H-1B visa is a dual-purpose visa that allows foreign nationals to come work highly skilled jobs in the United States for long periods of time. This visa is highly desirable and laden with sneaky education traps that can tank your case, or your employee or client’s case in a hurry. H-1B eligibility requirements state that a beneficiary must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent, and to be a specialized occupation, the job must require such a degree as a minimum. Educational requirements as well as what constitutes sufficient evidence to prove US equivalence for a foreign degree vary from visa to visa. At the same time, CIS trends regarding what they will approve in terms of education, and what they will not approve change.

If you’ve received an RFE for an education situation, it means you’ve already fallen into an H-1B education trap. Don’t panic! The situation may be salvageable. Here is what may have happened:

The degree came from a college or university that is not government accredited.

Many institutions that provide a rigorous, quality education that fully prepare you or your employee or client for the specialty occupation he or she has been hired for are not actually government accredited. Two common examples of this situation are NIIT and Aptech. CIS will not approve unaccredited education.

The “college” degree is actually a high school diploma.

Yes, this happens. Attorneys: don’t listen to your clients when they insist that their high school diploma is a college degree. This tends to be an honest mistake that gets taken too far. Mistranslations, misunderstandings, and different educational systems from one country to the next cause a lot of confusion in this area. Different degrees are often called by the same name, which becomes a problem when transcripts and credentials are translated but not evaluated for academic equivalence. The H-1B visa requires a US bachelor’s degree or higher. A high school diploma does NOT meet these requirements.

If your degree, or your employee or client has a degree from an unaccredited college or university, or no bachelor’s degree equivalence at all, talk to a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience into college credit. You may be able to salvage your case.

The degree was not evaluated correctly. 

If your degree, or your employee or client’s degree is from a different country with a different language, the transcripts must be translated into English and evaluated for US academic equivalence. Sometimes, documents do not get translated correctly, or they are only translated but never evaluated. Sometimes, they are evaluated, but incorrectly. Sometimes they are evaluated correctly, but not for the H-1B visa. This H-1B trap is becoming increasingly common because some translation agencies now offer a sort of one-stop-shop for translation and evaluation. Just like document translation, evaluation is a highly specialized field that requires extensive knowledge of international education, international trade agreements, CIS precedent decisions, federal case law, and various visa requirements. This is because some visas allow education and experience from different sources to be combined to show equivalence while others do not accept that combination but require others. This is also because some degrees exist in one country but not in another, and others don’t have a direct English translation. Some degrees don’t call themselves degrees but are actually the equivalent of post-secondary education. Simply translating documents from one language to another means understanding of the academic content is lost. A credential evaluator can identify where this occurs and fix it. Each evaluation must be conducted on a case-by-case basis.

Before you file your case, or your employee or client’s case, be aware that it may not be as straightforward as you think. Educational systems vary from country to country, and your degree or your employee or client’s degree may not be what you think it is in terms of US academic value.   At the same time, the right degree may be in the wrong field, or difficult to find a US equivalent degree for. Talk to a credential evaluator with experience working with H-1B visas and their RFEs. The evaluator you want understands the specific requirements of H-1B visas as well as CIS trends regarding these much sought-after visas.

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.

Avoid an EB2 RFE Before You Have to Respond to One

The approval process for EB2 visas is long, arduous, and can get quite costly. That means when you submit your petition, or your client or employee’s petition for adjudication, you want to get it right the first time. If there are errors, inconsistencies, or requirements not met in the initial petition – or if CIS does not feel they have adequate evidence to make the right decision about your case, or your client or employee’s case for any other reason – a Request for Evidence (RFE) will be issued that you will have to respond to.

Why you do NOT want that RFE

Aside from taking more time and money to address an RFE, an RFE is also a big red flag on the petition. When you get an RFE for a glaring error, it draws attention to the small mistakes that would have flown under the radar, and the more holes in your petition CIS finds, the more complicated your RFE will be to respond to.

If you receive an RFE, don’t panic! Receiving an RFE can be transformed into an opportunity to strengthen your case, or the case of your client or employee. However, the best way to address an RFE is to avoid it in the first place.

An RFE is by no means a rare occurrence. In fact, we see more and more RFEs every single year. At TheDegreePeople, we help clients with education RFEs, which are extremely common for the EB2 classification because CIS trends change with regards to educational requirements, especially from the prevalence of work visas in STEM industry companies, and also because equivalency requirements differ from other work visas.

The first mistake petitioner commonly make is that the degree must be an EXACT match for the job offer on the PERM. In most cases, employers will hire employees with degrees in related fields because there is enough educational overlap that they can be sure the employee has the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to carry out the duties of their job. This is especially the case when the employee has years of work experience in the field alongside a degree in a related field. However, CIS disagrees. If the degree is not an exact match for the job offer on the PERM, you, or your employee or client will receive an RFE. To address this issue, you or your employee or client needs to have their education and work experience reviewed to write the equivalency of the necessary degree in the appropriate field, and submit that to CIS.

The second mistake – which can also be made with regards to the equivalency in the first mistake – is that the petitioner’s bachelor’s degree must be a SINGLE source. This is particularly a problem when a petitioner needs a credential evaluation to write the equivalency for a degree in the exact field of employ, or if the petitioner holds a degree from a country with a three-year bachelor’s degree track. Other visas allow for work experience and different education sources to be combined to write the equivalency to the appropriate bachelor’s degree. This is not the case with EB2. The way we handle this situation is to convert years of progressive work experience into a bachelor’s degree equivalency or a master’s degree equivalency, and then cite federal case law, graduate school admissions requirements for programs in the client’s field, and provide other necessary documentation to fortify this equivalency.

If you, or your employee or client receives an EB2 RFE, talk to a credential evaluation agency with extensive experience working with specific visas, and international education experts on hand. If you call and the agency does not ask about the particular job or visa, look elsewhere. While they may be able to write an accurate equivalency, they will not be able to write the accurate equivalency that you or your employee or client needs to fulfill the unique requirements of the EB2 visa.

If you have yet to file, make sure your petition, or your employee or client’s petition does not fall into one of these common EB2 education traps. Don’t give CIS an excuse to issue an RFE. Get it right the first time.

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.

 

Who is at Fault for Your RFE?

About one in every four H-1B petitions receive an RFE. The first step to answering an RFE is to understand what CIS is asking, who dropped the ball, and who can provide that information. Just because someone is at fault for your RFE, or your employee or client’s RFE does not mean you should fire them or find someone else. At this stage, it is often unwise to find a new attorney, evaluator, or employer for that matter. Sometimes it’s the candidate’s fault. Sometimes, CIS is at fault. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault. CIS trends change every year and it’s impossible to keep up with all of them. Sometimes, you do need to find someone else for the job.

Regardless, the first step to successfully answering your RFE, or your employee or client’s RFE is to discover why it was issued in the first place and who is to blame. Remain calm, refrain from pointing fingers, and ALWAYS remain solution-oriented through this process.

Sometimes No One is to Blame

In many cases, this is exactly the situation. CIS visa approval trends change every year and it is practically impossible for everyone to keep up on them – even CIS. The best you can do is to work with a team that follows CIS trends as closely as possible and do your best. Working with a credential evaluation agency that specializes in RFEs and difficult cases is advised because they understand what works and what does not. This will not always prevent an RFE, but you’ll know you are in good hands in any case.

Sometimes it’s The Candidate’s Fault

This is a hard but true fact. Oftentimes, a candidate will make a mistake, and if this is your situation, it’s time to eat some humble pie and move forward towards a solution. Candidates, did you make a mistake about the value of your degree, certificate, license or diploma? Did you provide poorly or even fraudulently translated documents? Did you provide poorly evaluated documents? Did you receive your degree from an unaccredited institution? Educational document errors and inconsistencies, as well as mistranslations can be picked up by a skilled credential evaluator, but sometimes that’s not the first agency you work with. Be honest with yourself and your team about your credentials, and find honest, well-trained translation and evaluation agencies to work with from the beginning. At the end of the day, candidates, your petition is your responsibility.

Sometimes it’s The Attorney’s Fault

Attorneys, did you file the petition incorrectly? Sometimes this happens. Find out what went wrong and what you need to do to fix it. At this point, it’s probably not worth it to fire the attorney unless a horrible mistake was made. Oftentimes, when the attorney is at fault it’s for the same reason that candidates may have been at fault: they worked with the wrong translation or evaluation agency and ended up submitting inaccurate documents. These problems can be addressed by working with credible translation and evaluation agencies. Just make sure you work with TWO SEPARATE agencies – one for translation and one for credential evaluation – as these are two highly specialized services that require very different and very specific sets of skills.

Sometimes it’s CIS’s Fault

It’s no secret that CIS makes mistakes. Sometimes an RFE may be factually incorrect. Your petition, or your employee or client’s petition could be absolutely spotless, filed perfectly, and filed on time, and CIS will still issue an RFE. While these RFEs are frustrating, they are also easy fixes because you already have all of the documentation and information you need at your fingertips.

Sometimes Your Evaluator – or the Evaluation itself – is at fault

Maybe it was your evaluator’s error that triggered the RFE. Maybe it was the evaluation that your evaluator wrote but not your evaluator. This may sound confusing, but it’s actually a fairly simple differentiation. The candidate’s visa requires a very specific evaluation to write the equivalency to the US degree that you, your employee, or your client needs to meet H-1B visa requirements, and in the field that matches the H-1B job. If your degree, or your client or employee’s degree was earned outside of the United States, or with a major that is not an exact match to the job, you need an evaluation written that converts years of progressive work experience into college credit to fill in the gaps between the degree and the job, or the degree and the degree CIS requires you, or your client or employee to have.

Not every evaluation agency can provide this. Some do not specialize in immigration and visa evaluations, and some don’t have the authority or cannot provide the evidence needed to back up a work experience conversion. Talk to potential credential evaluation agencies. They may be able to write an accurate evaluation, but it may be the wrong evaluation for the H-1B petition. If an agency does not ask about the job or the visa, look elsewhere. The agency you want is one that specializes in immigration and visa evaluations, and specializes in RFEs and difficult cases.

An RFE is a chance to strengthen your case, or the case of your client or employee. Sit down with your team to find out who – if anyone – dropped the ball, who can solve the problem, and how to best proceed.

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.

 

H-1B Lottery Brought Under the Freedom of Information Act

When the number of H-1B petitions submitted that are not cap-exempt exceeds the allotted 85,000 annual visas, USCIS uses a randomized, computer-generated lottery to determine which visas are accepted for consideration for these visas. All visas selected are reviewed by CIS, and the rest are sent back to the petitioners and their employers. For the past ten years, the number of visas submitted has exceeded the cap. In the past four, this has happened within a week. This year, 236,000 H-1B petitions were submitted for fiscal year 2017. The H-1B lottery has been a staple of the process for about a decade now, and still lawyers, employers, and H-1B candidates have no idea how it actually works.

This year, the American Immigration Council and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym Ltd. brought the H-1B under the Freedom of Information Act. The intention is to audit the system to see how it works, and to make sure the lottery is as fair and impartial as CIS claims it to be.

The specific questions under investigation are:

  1. How does the electronic selection process work?
  2. How does the process for rejecting or accepting a petition function?
  3. How does CIS determine how many petitions to select for the lottery, and how does CIS determine when they have reached the limit for petition approval?
  4. How does CIS track visa numbers?
  5. Does CIS actually allocate all of the visa numbers available?

Unless major immigration reform happens to significantly increase the number of H-1B visas available annually, the lottery is here to stay. That means it needs to be made public record how it works. Candidates and their employers and lawyers have no control over whether or not any given petition is selected, but checking the process to ensure that it is up to statutory standards, and as impartial as it claims to be is necessary for accountability.

If your petition, or your employee or client’s petition is selected, it must be impeccable. CIS selects more petitions than there are H-1B visas available in the lottery process, then reviews the petitions they receive. That means they are looking for red flags, and many petitions must be rejected as part of the process. It is imperative that you get it right the first time. While RFEs can be answered, it is always best to prevent getting one in the first place.

If your education, or your employee or client’s education is from outside of the United States, never file without a thorough credential evaluation that clearly spells out the US equivalent of your client’s degree, with a specialization that matches their job offer. We see so many RFEs every year that could have been prevented simply by taking this step before CIS has to ask you, or your employee or client to do so.

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.

 

Common Foreign Degrees that Get Lost in Translation

If your degree, or your employee or client’s degree is not in English, it must be translated. However, translators are not credential evaluators, and both practices require very different, and very specialized skills. A common and costly mistake EB2 candidates, and their lawyers and employers make is filing for this advanced degree visa without the proper educational credential to back it up. While this is sometimes the fault of the candidate – EB2 has a much shorter processing time than EB3 – it is often a mistake that comes about honestly from mistranslated education.

While translators need to know the nuances of language – which words translate directly, which words have changed over time, and which words do not have direct English translations – evaluators possess the same kind of specialized knowledge about international education.

One common example of this is the mistranslation of Baccalaurate, which is often translated into Bachelor’s degree even though there are not the same. The words diploma and postgraduate diploma do not have clear meanings, and a postgraduate diploma is not necessarily the equivalency of postgraduate education. Some are, some are not. For this reason, translators will often translate a postgraduate diploma into a Master’s degree. This is an insertion of a value judgment through making a translation that is not direct and holds academic weight. This error would trigger an RFE or worse on an EB2 petition. Many degrees simply do not have a US equivalent and must be evaluated using detailed tactics, drawing from international trade agreements, CIS precedents, federal case law, and US graduate program admissions norms. Without this knowledge, translators often make value judgments when translating educational documents without realizing the damage it causes.

Another example is the Russian specialist degree – the kandidat naouk – which is generally considered to be the equivalent of a US doctorate degree. However, it cannot be TRANSLATED as such; the degree must be evaluated in terms of academic content and functional equivalency. In the same way, the Indian Chartered Accountancy Certificate, which is the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, is NOT a US CPA, a certificate that does not equate to postsecondary education. However, the Canadian Chartered Accountancy Certificate DOES fit the equivalency of a US CPA, and for this reason candidates with Indian Chartered Accountancy certificates often have their degrees mistranslated in such a way that it looses academic value.

How can you prevent mistranslations from putting a costly damper on your EB2 filing process? First, have the documents translated. The translator should make direct translations without inserting value judgment, sticking to the literal translation of the words in the document. Second, take these translated documents to a credential evaluator who can review the language translation for academic accuracy, and then write the detailed evaluation necessary to show the academic value of your client’s education. Do not trust agencies that offer a one-stop shop for translation and evaluation. If your educational documents, or your employee or client’s educational documents must be translated, make sure that translation and evaluation remains a two-step process, working with professionals in both separate fields.