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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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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 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.