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Common Foreign Degrees that Get Lost in Translation

If your degree, or your employee or client’s degree is not in English, it must be translated. However, translators are not credential evaluators, and both practices require very different, and very specialized skills. A common and costly mistake EB2 candidates, and their lawyers and employers make is filing for this advanced degree visa without the proper educational credential to back it up. While this is sometimes the fault of the candidate – EB2 has a much shorter processing time than EB3 – it is often a mistake that comes about honestly from mistranslated education.

While translators need to know the nuances of language – which words translate directly, which words have changed over time, and which words do not have direct English translations – evaluators possess the same kind of specialized knowledge about international education.

One common example of this is the mistranslation of Baccalaurate, which is often translated into Bachelor’s degree even though there are not the same. The words diploma and postgraduate diploma do not have clear meanings, and a postgraduate diploma is not necessarily the equivalency of postgraduate education. Some are, some are not. For this reason, translators will often translate a postgraduate diploma into a Master’s degree. This is an insertion of a value judgment through making a translation that is not direct and holds academic weight. This error would trigger an RFE or worse on an EB2 petition. Many degrees simply do not have a US equivalent and must be evaluated using detailed tactics, drawing from international trade agreements, CIS precedents, federal case law, and US graduate program admissions norms. Without this knowledge, translators often make value judgments when translating educational documents without realizing the damage it causes.

Another example is the Russian specialist degree – the kandidat naouk – which is generally considered to be the equivalent of a US doctorate degree. However, it cannot be TRANSLATED as such; the degree must be evaluated in terms of academic content and functional equivalency. In the same way, the Indian Chartered Accountancy Certificate, which is the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, is NOT a US CPA, a certificate that does not equate to postsecondary education. However, the Canadian Chartered Accountancy Certificate DOES fit the equivalency of a US CPA, and for this reason candidates with Indian Chartered Accountancy certificates often have their degrees mistranslated in such a way that it looses academic value.

How can you prevent mistranslations from putting a costly damper on your EB2 filing process? First, have the documents translated. The translator should make direct translations without inserting value judgment, sticking to the literal translation of the words in the document. Second, take these translated documents to a credential evaluator who can review the language translation for academic accuracy, and then write the detailed evaluation necessary to show the academic value of your client’s education. Do not trust agencies that offer a one-stop shop for translation and evaluation. If your educational documents, or your employee or client’s educational documents must be translated, make sure that translation and evaluation remains a two-step process, working with professionals in both separate fields.


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.