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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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
The Top 3 Reasons for Education H1-B RFEs
Every year, we see more and more education RFEs on H1-B visas. In the recent past, maybe 4% tops of all H1-B petitions were met with RFE’s. Now, around 25% of all of these petitions are met with RFEs. Issues with a candidate’s education are very common reasons USCIS will issue an RFE.
Why are there so many education RFEs?
Reason #1 – The candidate’s education equivalence does not match the job offer.
Reason #2 – See Reason #1.
Reason #3 – See Reasons #1 and #2.
Aren’t there any other reasons CIS would call a candidate’s education into question? Not really. There are small issues where CIS requests additional or more complete education documentation, but 90% of the RFEs are about the education equivalence not matching the title of the job offer. Education RFEs are very common because while employers will hire employees with degrees in related fields, CIS requires an H1-B employee’s degree to be an exact match for their job.
Many evaluation agencies write standard evaluations of foreign credentials without taking particular Visa requirements, federal case law, and CIS trends into account. In these situations, you will likely have an accurate evaluation, but your degree still will not match your job offer. This is an example of a good evaluator writing the wrong evaluation.
Well, you might get lucky and slide through, right? So why not just wait for an RFE to submit the education evaluation that CIS wants? Luck HAS worked reasonably well up until just recently. Some petitions did manage to slide by, but in the past two years we started seeing the “Nightmare” RFE begin to increase. If your degree or your degree evaluation does not match your job offer, you will likely run into problems with CIS, and the “Nightmare” RFE is a problem you never want to have to face. This is an extremely complicated RFE that is literally impossible to answer. While no one knows what triggers these particular RFEs, we DO know that they almost always occur when the candidate’s education does not match the job offer.
Send in a credential evaluation that takes your work experience and course content into account to fill in the gaps between your degree and your job offer before you have to do it the hard way. A simple work experience evaluation can prevent this “Nightmare” experience.
If it’s too late and you have already received a “Nightmare” RFE – also known as the “Kitchen Sink” RFE because absolutely everything is in it but the kitchen sink – we can help you. While this RFE cannot actually be met as written, we have developed a systematic approach to addressing this RFE that has worked 95% of the time.
To learn more about the Nightmare RFE, check out my article http://discuss.ilw.com/content.php?4449-Article-You-Can-Beat-The-Nightmare-RFE-for-H1B-By-Sheila-Danzig. You CAN beat the “Nightmare” RFE, but why do it if you don’t have to? Don’t risk this “Nightmare” scenario. Get your credentials evaluated by an evaluation agency with the authority to convert work experience in your field of employ into college credit. Some agencies simply do not write these kinds of evaluations. When you talk to them on the phone, tell them that you need an education evaluation for an H1-B Visa petition. If they don’t ask about your job offer, look elsewhere. You need an evaluator knowledgeable about international education as well as CIS trends.
About the Author
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.