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Your H1B Checklist for FY 2019

April 1st is coming up fast and that means it’s time to get started on H1B petitions for fiscal year 2019.

For the past few years, the H1B quota of 65,000 visas and an additional 20,000 for candidates with US Masters degrees or higher or their equivalency has been met within the mandatory five business days that CIS must continue to accept petitions, causing the H1B lottery.  This year, we predict the same situation. That means you need to be ready to file right on April 1st.

Before you file, make sure your petition, or your employee or client’s petition is seamless.  With so many petitions and so few annual cap-subject visas available, CIS is on the lookout for shortcuts to make their job easier.  Don’t let your petition, or your employee or client’s petition raise any red flags.  Make sure the requirements are met, and always be aware of common RFEs and CIS approval trends.  We work with difficult cases and RFEs every year and we keep a close eye on what CIS is doing.  Based on what we’ve seen over the past few years, here are some things to keep in mind when organizing the petition:

1. Does the job meet H1B requirements for specialization?

To qualify for H1B eligibility, the job must have a minimum requirement of a US bachelors degree or higher or its equivalent.  To prove this, include the ad for the job that specifies its requirements, and include evidence that similar jobs in the industry require the same credentials.  If this job requires a unique level of specialization that is unusual to the typical occupation, include a detailed description of the job and its duties and an expert opinion letter explaining why this job requires an advanced degree to perform.

Last year, CIS used this H1B requirement to issue the Level 1 Wages RFE to an unprecedented number of computer programmers petitioning for H1B status.  Their reasoning was that according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the US Department of Labor, entry level computer programmers are sometimes hired with only a US associates degree, which does not meet the H1B requirement of a US bachelors degree or higher.  This RFE caught everyone off guard and we won’t know until RFEs come out for the FY 2019 round of petitions whether or not measures to prevent this RFE will work.  However, if you, or your employee or client has this job at this wage level, here are our recommendations:  If you can, set the job at Level 2 Wages, or indicate a different occupation if you can.  The second option gets tricky because the job on the LCA must match the job on the H1B petition.  Before you try to fit your job, or your employee or client’s job into a different category, consult with us to make sure the job title fits the description, and that the job indicated also meets H1B requirements.  If you cannot take either of these measures, include an expert opinion letter that explains why this job meets H1B requirements.  We have experts on hand 24/7 to help you with this, and we have had great success in answering these RFEs.

2. Does the beneficiary and the employer have an employer-employee relationship?

To meet H1B requirements, the employer must be able to hire, fire, promote and demote, pay, and otherwise control the work the employee does.  Along with this relationship comes the H1B requirement to pay the H1B employee the prevailing wages and benefits for similar jobs in that industry in that geographical location.  To prove this, include a copy of the employment contract and documentation that details the nature of the employee’s work.

This is another area that CIS came down on H1B candidates last year with the Level I Wages RFE.  This issue can be addressed through the means mentioned above.  More importantly, it is important to explain the CIS in the expert opinion letter that just because a job is set at Level 1 Wages doesn’t mean it is entry level, and if it is not entry level, it does not mean that the employee is being underpaid.  That’s not how wage levels work; there are many factors to be taken into consideration that must be detailed in the expert opinion letter.  Including this with the initial H1B petition may be the key to preventing this difficult new RFE.

3. Does the beneficiary clearly meet H1B educational requirements for the job?

H1B educational requirements state that to be eligible the beneficiary must have a US bachelors degree or higher or its foreign equivalent.  You, or your employee or client must hold an advanced degree that meets the requirements for the H1B job.  For the better part of the past decade, CIS approval trends have shown that the degree specialization must be an exact match for the job title.  This is where things get tricky.

If the degree specialization is not an EXACT match for the field of employment, the beneficiary will need a credential evaluation that utilizes years of progressive work experience and a close examination of the courses taken within the degree program to write an evaluation that solidifies the equivalency to the correct degree in the correct field.

If the degree was earned outside of the United States, you will need to include a credential evaluation that clearly spells out the academic value of the degree in terms of US educational standards.  Some degrees, like the Indian three-year bachelors degree, are RFE magnets because CIS is hung up on the missing fourth year even if there are an equal or greater number of actual classroom contact hours in the three-year degree.  Some jobs like Computer Systems Analysis are RFE targets because there are very few colleges and universities that offer that specific major track.

For these two circumstances, you will need a professor with the authority to issue college credit for work experience to write an evaluation that converts years of progressive work experience in the field of the job into years of college credit.  Progressive work experience means that the nature of the work became more complex and specialized, and the beneficiary took on more responsibility as the work experience progressed.  This indicates that skills and knowledge specialized to the field were learned on the job.  We have professors on hand with the authority to write these evaluations.

The final hangup with regards to education that tends to trigger an RFE happens when a beneficiary has a degree that doesn’t have the word “degree” in the title.  For example, the Indian Chartered Accountancy certification is actually the equivalent of a US bachelors degree in accounting.  The Canadian Chartered Accountancy and the US CPA are not bachelors degree equivalents.  If you or your client or employee has earned an Indian Chartered Accountancy certification, this credential DOES meet H1B eligibility requirements. You will need to submit a credential evaluation with the H1B petition that clearly describes the steps of education and exams – matriculation structure – required to earn this certification to show that the steps involved are equivalent to a US bachelors degree in accountancy.

Before you file, let us review your client’s entire case to make sure there are no red flags, missing documentation or analysis, or gaps between the beneficiary’s job and education, and H1B eligibility requirements.  Simply visit evaluationcredentials.com and submit the educational documents, resume, and job description and we will respond within 48 hours with a full analysis and pre-evaluation of the case, and our recommendations for how to preempt an RFE for the FY 2019 filing season.

How to Use the Level 1 Wages RFE as a Tool

It seems like every year CIS is coming out with a new difficult RFE to throw H1B beneficiaries and their employers and attorneys a curve ball.

This year, we were all caught off guard by the Level 1 Wages RFE that targets computer programmers. As with all other years, this RFE is an opportunity to strengthen your case, or your client or employee’s case when you respond to it. In fact, your response to this RFE should be viewed as a tool to do this, and to preempt a second round of RFEs.

When you respond to the Level 1 Wages RFE, it’s important to be aware of other risks involved in your case, or your client or employee’s case. Some jobs, like Computer Systems Analyst, are RFE magnets. Some degrees, like generalized degrees or the Indian three-year Bachelors degree, also attract a disproportionate number of RFEs. If a candidate’s degree is not an exact match for their H1B job, CIS is likely to issue another RFE about that issue when you answer the first. That’s why when we answer the Level 1 Wages RFE, we review our clients’ entire case and write a credential evaluation that preempts these situations.

Don’t let the Level 1 Wages RFE catch you off guard or distract you from the classic RFEs we’ve seen year after year, because they haven’t gone away.

For a no charge and no obligation review of your case, or your employee or client’s entire case, please contact us.

Don’t Get Distracted by the Level 1 Wages RFE!

While the Level 1 Wages RFE has been this year’s hot new horrible H1B RFE, all of the classic RFEs we see year after year are still out there.

Candidates who received an RFE for Level 1 Wages and answered it perfectly are now getting hit with another round of RFEs.  In fact, this year we’ve seen round two of RFEs bring up some old favorites like the three-year bachelor’s degree RFE, and the occupational specialization RFE, and the mismatched education RFE.

While RFEs are common, they are not desirable because they give CIS an opportunity to closely scrutinize the candidate’s petition and pick up on minute inconsistencies, mistakes, or details that would otherwise fly under the radar.  The silver lining to an RFE is it gives candidates a chance to strengthen their case, but only if it’s done correctly.

When we answer one RFE, we take that opportunity to prevent more by reviewing the candidate’s entire case.  If you or your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree, or a degree with a major that is not an exact match for the H1B job, we can include a credential evaluation that uses progressive work experience to fill in the gaps between the candidate’s education and job.  If you or your employee or client holds a degree or a job that tends to be an RFE magnet, we address the specific issues involved in the initial RFE response along with the expert opinion letter for Level 1 Wages.

Don’t wait for a second RFE to address it.  Have us review the entire case before you file a response to make sure you pre-empt any future hindrances to H1B visa approval.

To have us review your case, or your employee or client’s case at no charge and no obligation, please contact us and send the following documents:

• LCA

• Beneficiary Resume and Educational Documents

• Employer Support Letter

• Detailed Description of the Job

• RFE

We will get back to you in 48 hours or less with a full review of the case, our recommendations, and information on how to move forward.

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.

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.

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 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.