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Specialty Occupation and Wage Level H1B RFEs: Who Dropped the Ball?

When an RFE arrives, it means CIS does not have enough information from the initial H1B petition to make a decision about your case, or your employee or client’s case.

If you or your employee or client receives an RFE, don’t panic. RFEs have become very common, and can be a helpful tool to fortify the case for approval. Sit down with your team and carefully read through the RFE, then put the RFE down and go back to the original H1B eligibility requirements and see where the case is lacking. In this process, it is important to see who dropped the ball, and how to pick it back up. This does not mean pointing fingers, placing blame, or spouting anger. Oftentimes the reason for the RFE is changing CIS approval trends. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault.

Specialty occupation and wage level RFEs jumped ahead of education RFEs in response to last year’s lottery. H1B requirements state that to be eligible for this visa the job must require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent to gain entry into the position. This must be an industry standard, or you must go a step further to prove that this position is uniquely specialized and holding an advanced degree is consistent with employer hiring practices. The job must also pay the prevailing wage for the job in the industry, for companies of that size in that geographical location.

Last year, computer programmers making level 1 wages were hit especially hard with RFEs. CIS claimed that since some employers will hire entry-level computer programmers with only an associate’s degree, the job does not meet specialization requirements, or the wage level is not set correctly. One of the main problems with the reasoning for this RFE is that wage level does not necessarily determine the specialization of the position, rather it is set in accordance with the prevailing wage and takes the level of training and supervision required for the employee into consideration as well.

Specialty occupation RFEs and wage level RFEs are so interconnected they often come together. Now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s see where the fault may lie.

Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault. CIS approval trends change, and the best we can do is learn for the approval trends of last year, and what RFE responses worked and which ones did not. Sometimes it’s CIS’ fault. You could file an immaculate petition and still receive an RFE. CIS could be unreasonable with their justification for the RFE, or just plain wrong. Whatever the reason, you still must answer it.

Sometimes the attorney will make a mistake when filing, there will be omitted pages in the petition, or it will be filed out of order. Sometimes it’s the beneficiary’s fault. Providing poorly translated educational documents, misconceptions about the value of a credential’s academic value, and providing misleading or false information in resumes happens. These mistakes are not necessarily on purpose, even if it involves providing false information. Sometimes names are misspelled or answers are inconsistent from one document to the next.

Sometimes it’s the employer’s fault. Maybe the job really is set at the wrong wage level. Maybe the job indicated in the LCA is different than the job title in the petition. Inconsistencies across documents are easy mistakes to make, especially in the rush to file by April 1st, but these mistakes have far-reaching consequences. Maybe your team didn’t provide enough detailed evidence regarding the duties and responsibilities of the job in question.

Whatever the reason for the RFE, it’s important that you identify where the case is lacking in evidence, whose job it is to provide it, and fix it. At Evaluation Credentials, we work with difficult RFEs every year. We can help you identify what went wrong and how to fix it. For a free review of your case visit EvaluationCredentials.com.  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.

How to Answer the Triple H1B RFE

The short answer is, you will need expert help.

The triple RFE combines the Nightmare RFE – which is virtually impossible to answer in time by its own instructions – the level 1 wages RFE, and the specialty occupation RFE all into one big giant headache.

To answer this, you will need to first justify that the wage level is correct for the job, meaning that the H1B employee will be paid the prevailing wages and benefits for that position, in that industry, in similar sized companies in that geographical area. Second, you will need to show that the job meets H1B specialization requirements, and third, you will need to show that the beneficiary meets the educational requirements for the specialty occupation.

To answer the first two, you will need to include an expert opinion letter that explains how wage levels work for that position, and that explains why this particular position meets specialty occupation requirements. You don’t need to order two separate letters for this, at Evaluation Credentials we have experts available 24/7 with the highest rate of success in answering these RFEs, and they can do it in just one letter.

For the third component, you, or your client or employee will need a credential evaluation that clearly shows that they meet educational requirements for the H1B job. For a job to be a specialty occupation, entry into that position must require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree in the field. That means you need to show that you have, or your employee or client has a US bachelor’s degree in that exact field, or its equivalent. At Evaluation Credentials, we keep one eye on the education and the other on CIS approval trends, which change every year. Writing the correct evaluation means knowing the education, the job, and what CIS will and will not accept as proof of equivalency.

In answering any difficult RFE, the answer is to not get bogged down in the wording, but rather go back to the original eligibility requirements and see where your case, or your client or employee’s case is lacking in meeting them, and to seek expert help.

For a no-charge and no-obligation review of your case, or your employee or client’s case, visit EvaluationCredentials.com. We will get back to you in 48 hours or less with a full analysis and our recommendations.

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.