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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.

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.

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.

 

FY2017 H-1B Predictions and Requirements

The past decade has seen a significant annual increase in H-1b petitions, and this year the trend is projected to continue. Experts estimate that more than 200,000 H-1b petitions will be filed this year before CIS closes its doors after the mandatory five days of accepting petitions. For cap-subjected H-1b jobs, there are only 65,000 visas available for candidates with US bachelor’s degrees or it’s equivalent or higher, and an additional 20,000 H-1b visas with candidates with US master’s degrees or its equivalent or higher available. There will most definitely be a lottery, and that means you and your client need to have your petition ready, spotless, and filed on April First of this year.

But what does a spotless petition look like?

Your client’s petition must meet H-1b requirements as well as current CIS trends to be approved. CIS has been issuing more and more RFE’s every year, up from around 4% less than a decade ago to 25% in recent years as responses to H-1b petitions. That means your client has a one in four chance of receiving an RFE that the two of you will have to address. Your client doesn’t have to be a statistic so long as you clearly show that your client and his or her job and employer meet H-1b requirements in adherence to current CIS trends.

What are the H-1b requirements and how do trends affect how to properly evidence these requirements?

  1. Your client’s job must be a specialty occupation. This means that to perform the duties of the job, your client must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent in a related field. In recent years however, CIS has issued RFE’s for degrees that do not exactly match candidates’ job titles. If your client’s major is not an exact match for his or her job title, you need to find a credential evaluation agency that can take a close look at your client’s education to count classroom contact hours in classes matching your client’s job towards a degree equivalency. The evaluator can also convert years of progressive work experience in the field to years of college credit in the major of your client’s job offer. To show that your client’s job is a specialty occupation, you need to provide evidence that your client’s employer requires this degree for this job, and that similar positions in similar companies also require an advanced degree. If this is not the case, you need to provide evidence as to why your client’s particular job is so specifically complex as to require an advanced degree to carry out its duties.
  1. Your client must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent. H-1b visas are for specialty occupations that require a bachelor’s degree or higher to perform. If your client has a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent, and the degree matches the job, all you have to do is submit the educational documents with the petition. However, if your client’s degree is from a different country – particularly a country with a three-year bachelor’s degree – you need to have your client’s education evaluated for US equivalence. This is because educational systems vary from country to country, and CIS must clearly see the value of your client’s education in terms of US educational value. Some post-secondary degrees from other countries are the equivalent of US bachelor’s degrees even though the word “degree” is not in the title. Others are not. A detailed evaluation from a credential evaluator with expert understanding of international education is needed to meet this requirement. For three-year degrees, a progressive work experience conversion is needed to fill in the missing fourth year. Although three-year degrees, like the Indian three-year degree, have the same if not more number of classroom contact hours as a US four-year degree, CIS does not accept this equivalency on face without a detailed credential evaluation.
  1. There must be an employer-employee relationship. This means that your client’s employer can hire, fire, promote, pay, and otherwise control the work your client does. You can show this by submitting a copy of the employee contract or providing other documentation regarding your client’s job.
  1. Your client must be paid the prevailing wage for his or her job. Prevailing wage is determined based on the job, the company, the geographic location, and other factors. To prove that your client will be paid the prevailing wage for his or her job, you need to provide evidence that states common salaries for your client’s occupation in similar companies in similar locations, as well as proof that your client’s employer will be paying that wage. At the same time, you also have to show that your client’s employer is economically viable to pay your client the prevailing wage without affecting the salaries of other employees, operating costs, or other aspects of the business.

Before you file your client’s H-1b petition, have a credential evaluator review his or her education to make sure all your ducks are in a row. If you submit a petition without an evaluation where one is needed, you can expect an RFE. While an RFE is not the end of the world, it is a big red flag on your client’s petition, and will trigger CIS to comb over the petition and find misplaced details that would otherwise have gone by unnoticed. CIS has a big job to do when it comes to cap-subject H-1b visa selection. Make their job easier by making sure your client’s visa is easy to approve, not by giving them a big red flag to look at.

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.

How to Bridge the Fatal Gaps Between Your Degree and Your H1B Job

When evaluating a candidate for a job position that requires a specialized degree, employers will almost always consider a candidate with a degree in a related field qualified. Until about five or six years ago, USCIS would also accept a degree in a related field as sufficient qualification to approve an H1B visa. This is no longer the case and H1B candidates are running into trouble in the form of RFE’s and Denials. Employers hire H1B candidates, but CIS does not approve their visas. The same goes for candidates with generalized degrees. Even though these candidates continue to get hired, their Visa petitions hit a brick wall. The percentage of H1B petitions that are met with RFE’s and Denials climbs higher every year for this reason.

If your job offer is for accountancy but your degree is in economics, CIS will raise a red flag. If you have a generalized degree and are hired for any job that meets the specialization standards of an H1B Visa job, CIS will raise a red flag.

CIS requirements clearly state, “USCIS precedent decisions have confirmed that a generalized degree in business administration, absent specialized experience, is insufficient to qualify an alien beneficiary in a specialty occupation […] a petitioner with a business administration degree must establish a particular area and occupation in the field of business administration in which he is engaged.”

CIS states, “A generalized degree, absent specialized experience, is insufficient.”

Does this mean H1B candidates with degrees in fields that don’t exactly match but are related to their field of employ are out of luck? Absolutely not.

Even though your education alone cannot prove that you have the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to qualify for your H1B job, your education combined with work experience can. Employers hire candidates with related degrees because they have gained the specialized skills and knowledge they need for the job by directly working in the field. To prove specialization with a related or generalized degree, you need an evaluation of your education and work experience from a professor authorized to grant college credit for your work experience. ONLY a professor authorized to do this can write the evaluation you need to get your H1B Visa approved.

Authorized professors can convert years of progressive work experience into college credit to bridge the gaps between your job and your degree. Your work experience must be in the exact field of you H1B job. To qualify as progressive work experience, the nature of the work must have required you to take on progressively more work and responsibilities representing your progressively growing specialized knowledge base and skill set.

Don’t wait for an RFE or Denial to get your degree and work experience evaluated. While an RFE or Denial is not the end of the world, it is a big red flag to CIS that will trigger a close scrutiny of your petition. Minor errors and glitches that would have otherwise gone unnoticed will be unearthed because attention has been drawn to your petition. With hundreds of thousands of H1B Visa petitions to mire through, CIS uses red flags to make the hard decision of who gets their Visa approved and who does not for the set amount of annual Visa slots. Make the decision to approve your Visa easy by making your specialized knowledge and skill set clear with a credential evaluation from a professor authorized to convert work experience into college credit.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI 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. Mention that you saw this in the ILW article and get 72 hour rush service at no charge.

 

Who is to Blame for Your H1B RFE?

As foreign credential evaluators who specialize in handling RFEs and denials, we are constantly evaluating USCIS policy and trends. Just like last year and the year before, this year we have seen more H1B RFEs than we ever have in the past. When CIS issues an RFE, much concern and angst arises. A lot is at stake with Visa approval, so getting to this point in the process only to find more is being asked of you is a lot to stomach. Employers look to the attorneys, attorneys look to evaluators, and candidates panic.

But whose fault is it REALLY and why does it matter whose fault it is anyway?

True, sometimes it is the attorney or evaluators fault, but sometimes it is CIS’s fault.

Sometimes it is the fault of the evaluation but not the evaluator.

Sometimes it is CIS’s fault.

Sometimes it is the candidate’s fault.

Sometimes it is no one’s fault at all.

It matters because there is absolutely no reason to get a new attorney or a new evaluator at this stage of the process if the RFE was not their fault.

The first step to successfully responding to an RFE is to understand what is being asked for, and of whom is it being asked, and which party can provide the necessary evidence. Knowing who is at fault for the RFE is a big part of understanding how to move forward.

When is it the attorney’s fault?

Very rarely, an attorney will file an application incorrectly. Generally, however, the attorney error occurs when the candidate’s education is not reviewed by an education specialist before the application is filed. In this case, the candidate’s account of their education and experience is incorrect or does not meet the CIS requirements for the H1-B. Unless this is the case, don’t fire your attorney over an RFE.

When is it the evaluator’s fault, and how can it be the fault of the evaluation but NOT the person who wrote the evaluation?

There are situations when the RFE is clearly the evaluator’s fault because the evaluation was done incorrectly. For example, when a non-accredited PGD is listed as accredited, CIS jumps on that inaccuracy to issue an RFE.   This rarely happens, because most evaluators are highly trained in spotting unaccredited education.

However, every evaluation is different, and evaluations for different Visas must be written very differently. When an evaluator writes an evaluation for any particular visa, he or she needs to know both the Visa regulations AND current CIS trends. Not every evaluation agency is aware of the Visa regulations. The evaluator may have provided the evaluation ordered by the client, only to find that the equivalence does not work for the particular Visa. For example, if you have a four-year degree in electrical engineering, you can receive an evaluation written correctly showing an equivalency to a US bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but then receive an RFE anyway because your job is in the field of computer software analysis. This sort of mismatch triggered an onslaught of RFEs this year. The evaluator did a good job, but the evaluation was not correct for the purposes of the Visa. In this case, you may have likely found the right evaluator, but he or she provided you with the wrong evaluation even though they acted in good faith. To avoid this, make sure you order your evaluation from an agency that knows education regulations for each Visa. If you advise an evaluation agency that you need an evaluation for an H1-B visa and they don’t ask about the job offer, find a new agency. The degree must precisely fit the field of employment for this Visa and the evaluator needs to know this information so they can evaluate an equivalency to the proper degree. If you are not asked about the job offer, the agency does not look at the Visa regulations and is not right for this job.

If you have already paid an evaluator and a mistake was made, I suggest you go back to that evaluator to try to address your RFE. However, if the evaluation agency did not make sure that the evaluation was written for the particular Visa it was ordered for, that may just be how they operate. There is nothing wrong with that unless they lead you to believe that they evaluate for immigration and meet Visa requirements as part of their service. They may just be writing standard evaluations and not be authorized to make the conversions from work experience to education, which is necessary to prove equivalency between fields or across educational system structures. You cannot expect an agency to do something they don’t claim to do. So the evaluation agency you want and need is one that will look at the education, as well as the visa requirements and current CIS trends.

When is it CIS’s fault?

Government bureaucracies make mistakes and some RFEs are simply factually incorrect. Everything in a petition could be done correctly and you can still receive an RFE. Often when CIS is at fault, the RFE will state that an accredited university is not accredited, or that a qualified evaluator is not qualified. While these RFEs are frustrating, they are usually also easy fixes. With the help of your evaluator, you can easily provide these facts and receive an approval.

When is it the Candidate’s Fault?

Yes, you make mistakes too. Candidates have been known to insist that their high school documents are college level or that unaccredited education is accredited. They have also been known to provide poorly translated documents, or even fraudulently translated documents. Generally, a good evaluator can pick up on these problems before starting in on the evaluation, but not all evaluation agencies will review a candidate’s case before accepting payment and writing it. To be sure that no problems arise further down the road that can trigger an RFE, we always review all of the documents before accepting a credential evaluation order. Before we have seen all of your education documents, a resume, and the RFE or Denial if one has been issued, we have no way to discuss your case. We want to discover any issues in the documents right away in order to eliminate the vast majority of the confusion and misinformation you may experience down the road.

When is it no one’s fault?

Sometimes, it really is no one’s fault. CIS trends change. As we have seen especially in the past seven or so years, CIS trends can change very quickly. We can only know what they generally do and what they have done in the past, which helps a great deal. CIS can be a wildcard, and no one can guarantee what they are going to do. When this happens, all you can do is carefully read the RFE with your team, understand what is being asked of whom and who can provide the requested evidence, and then do your best to beat it.

Can we draw a usable conclusion?

Yes. The entire team should review the RFE. Your attorney, your employer, your evaluator, and, of course, you should review the RFE. An evaluator with extensive experience with RFEs could be familiar with the RFE and know how they have been resolved. Work with him or her to resolve the RFE. If you used an evaluation agency before receiving an RFE, go back to them. Next time, make sure you are working with an evaluation agency that reviews the education and Visa requirements and gives you all of your options before you order. If that is not their policy, it might be best to try a new agency. Remember that few agencies have passed through the RFE gauntlet this year unscathed, and many of these RFEs are not the fault of the agency, or the fault of the attorney or employer or you. Do your homework before you file because avoiding RFEs is far superior to resolving them.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is a foreign credentials evaluation expert and international education expert. 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. Mention that you saw this in the ILW article and get 72 hour rush service at no charge.

 

5 Signs You’ve Found a Good Credential Evaluation Agency

More and more RFE’s are being issued inquiring into the credibility of credential evaluation agencies. Even if you’ve submitted an evaluation of your foreign degree along with the rest of your H1b petition, the USCIS may have questions about how reliable the agency that made the conversions is, and whether or not they actually have the authority to make the conversions they did.

Not all evaluation agencies have international education experts and professors on hand to write the detailed evaluation you need to prove the value of your education in terms of US standards. Not all agencies are authorized to convert classroom contact hours and years of work experience into the college credit you need to bridge the gaps between the US academic system structure and that of the country in which you earned your degree.

Just like any other kind of business, agency, or professional, some credential evaluation agencies are quality and reliable while others are not. Here are five signs that you’ve found a good one:

  1. They answer when you call…or text, or email. A good agency will always be there to answer your communication in whatever medium you prefer. A great agency is ALWAYS available because they know the time crunches involved in the petition process.
  1. They have satisfied customers. NEVER order an evaluation without asking for past client references and following up on them. Search for and read reviews and read client testimonials. If past customers are satisfied, chances are you will be too.
  1. They offer you options. Reliable agencies have a wide range of options. This is because experience working with visa applicants has taught them the last minute really does mean the last minute when it comes to getting your petition in, or your RFE answered. They should offer a variety of rush delivery options at reasonable rates.
  1. They’re inexpensive. This is NOT one of those things where you get what you pay for. In fact, an expensive evaluation is a big red flag. Reliable agencies don’t have to squeeze as much cash as they can out of every client they get. Furthermore, reliable agencies understand how costly it is to petition for an H1b visa and their prices will reflect an understanding of and respect for your budget. Save your money and get a credible evaluation.
  1. They are a pleasure to talk to. A good conversation – whether it be over the phone, or by text or email – is a great indicator that you have found a good credential evaluation agency. This is because it shows that you are comfortable working with them, they are able to answer your questions to your satisfaction, and that they are confident in the work they do.

If you see these five signs when you research which agency to order your evaluation from, you have likely found a reliable credential evaluator who can write you the evaluation you need to get your visa approved.

How to Avoid the RFE Explosion

In the past six or so years, we’ve seen an explosion in Requests for Evidence in response to H1B petitions. Just less than a decade ago only about 4% of all H1B petitions were met with RFE’s while today we’re seeing 25%. One of the main reasons this is happening is because the USCIS is getting flooded with more H1B petitions than they know what to do with every year. With the growing number of STEM industry jobs requiring highly skilled workers, US companies are hiring foreign workers and applying for as many H1B visas as they can. The rate of acceptance is low. Even companies like Microsoft will only be approved for around half of the petitions they submit.

Another reason for the increased number of RFE’s is because the USCIS and your boss have different standards by which to judge your qualifications. While most employers will hire workers with degrees in the fields related to their job, the USCIS won’t approve their visas. The USCIS has recently tightened its standards to only accept applicants whose degree matches their field of employ exactly. Because these standards are new and because they differ from your employer to the government, many of these petitions are now met with RFE’s or worse.

Don’t panic if this is the situation you’re in. You can fix this before it even becomes a problem. All you have to do is submit a credential evaluation along with your educational documents written by an evaluator with the authority to convert work experience into college credit hours. That way, your work experience in the field can be counted towards your degree specialized in the field of your job. Not all credential evaluation agencies have evaluators on hand with this authority, so be sure to check before ordering your evaluation.

Before the USCIS has to ask you about your education, spell it out clearly for them and avoid a pesky RFE.