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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.

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.

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.

Building Your Immigration Practice: Should You Write a Book?

I’m Sheila Danzig, international education expert and executive director at TheDegreePeople, a foreign credential evaluation agency. I also run a strong marketing division, and I want to share with you my expertise to help you build your immigration law practice so you can help more clients get approved for the Visas they deserve. I usually write about the Visa process and how to avoid or resolve RFEs, Denials, and NOIDs. Today, let’s talk about how to build your practice.

For any kind of consultant, there are few better career decisions than writing a book. Now is the time to write the book on immigration law. Publish a non-fiction book, do it right, and watch the opportunities present themselves as you build your audience, write your book, and promote what you’ve written. Note the “do it right” part. Simply writing a book will not make you an overnight success. When you commit to writing a book, you commit to being an author. In this case, when you commit to your book, you agree to make its topic the central focus of your immigration law practice for at least the next few years.

Before you commit to being an author, here are three questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Do I REALLY want to put myself and my ideas out there for all to see? This means taking a public stand and being held accountable to the words you write. You will never be able to please everyone, and you won’t be able to sit down with everyone who reads your book and explain yourself. However, if you invite your readers to get in touch with you with any questions they may have regarding what you’ve written, you’ve taken a massive step towards building your business.
  1. Do I have a book concept that REALLY inspires me? Ask yourself, is there anything you know enough about that will drive you to set aside time to work on your book even when you’re busy? Is this concept so compelling to you that you are willing to make it a central focus of your law practice for the next few years? Are you inspired by the topic to the extent that you are willing to pass up short-term opportunities to focus on the long-term goal of getting your book out there? Writing a book is a process, and if you’re not inspired by the concept you won’t have the energy to complete this process.
  1. Do you REALLY want to be a writer? When you commit to writing a book, you commit to being an author. This means doing things that authors do like giving talks and webinars, maintaining a blog, publishing articles, and, of course, actually writing your book. However, you don’t technically have to be a writer to be an author. If you have all of the expertise and information but writing isn’t really your passion or practice, you can hire a ghostwriter to help you.

If you are committed to putting your ideas out there, have a topic you are passionate and inspired by, and you want to be a writer (or at least hire one to help you), then the answer is YES! You should absolutely write a book. Being a published author will build your business and launch your career to new levels of success.

Now that you’ve decided to write a book, the next step is to write, right?

Wrong.

The next step is the step that will give you that initial bump in business growth, and here’s why.

When you approach a publisher with your non-fiction book concept, your publisher already knows that in today’s market a non-fiction book on average sells less than 250 copies each year, and less than 2,000 copies in its lifetime. One thing you cannot count on your publishing company to do is to help you market your book. This is something that now falls mostly on the author. That means even if your content is amazing, it’s very unlikely the publishing company will profit much from it. That’s why when you pitch your story, you need to show two things:

  1. You have an audience ready to buy your book.
  2. You have a marketing plan to promote your book when it comes out.

Even if you decide to self-publish, these are the first two things you need to be thinking about. Fortunately, these are also the first two things you need to be thinking about to build your business. Even if you don’t end up writing a book, preparing to write a book will build your business in ways you would have otherwise missed out on. To build your audience, you need to show that your ideas are compelling, unique, and helpful to the people affected by your law practice and your book concept.

Write articles on the topic of your book. Maintain a blog with many of your postings focusing on the concept of your book. Blog about your writing process and include excerpts of what you’ve written. Give talks and host webinars on the topic of your book and your law practice. You can even attend conferences regarding your book topic, including writer’s conferences where you can glean ideas about how to best get your book out there. These are great opportunities to network with journals and other publications to get your articles published in.

If you are not already taking these steps to build your business, you should be doing them anyway. Writing a book has short-term and long-term benefits for business growth. Making a commitment to your concept and your book gives your business marketing strategy focus and momentum. Then, getting your book published and out there opens up even more doors for you and your law practice.

You can learn exactly what to do to build your audience base, devise an effective marketing strategy for your book, and write the non-fiction book that will skyrocket your practice to new levels of success in my book Invisible Marketing for Attorneys. You can download this book for free at www.ccifree.com from the link on the left side of the page. This is also the website to visit for a free review of any H1B, E3, TN, or I-140 case.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of TheDegreePeople, 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.

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

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.

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.