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It’s RFE season! Amongst the most common H-1B RFEs applicants receive this time of year have to do with education.
H-1B visa eligibility is dependent on be beneficiary having an advanced degree with specialized skills and knowledge necessary to perform the specialty occupation they were hired for. This means the beneficiary must have a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent in a specialization that exactly matches their job offer. Due to the specificity of these requirements, even if you, or your employee or client did submit a credential evaluation along with the initial petition, the evaluation may not meet CIS requirements for this particular visa.
Finding the right credential evaluator to answer an H-1B RFE is the difference between success and rejection. The evaluator you want to work with can be found with these five questions:
- Do they offer a free review of the case?
An evaluator cannot know what services must be provided – or whether or not your education, or your employee or client’s education and work experience will even work for the H-1B visa at all – without reviewing your employment history, or your employee or client’s employment history and educational documents. You received an education RFE. Before you answer it, make sure you CAN answer it successfully with what you, or your employee or client has to work with, and what needs to be done to write the equivalency that will accurately meet H-1B education standards. If an agency or evaluator asks for payment before looking into what needs to be done, look elsewhere.
- Are they easy to work with?
The evaluator who you want to work with is one who wants to work with you. Answering an RFE means you have to collect a lot of documentation – some not so easy to secure – in a short amount of time. Don’t waste your time working with an evaluator who doesn’t answer your calls, your text, your emails, or your questions to your satisfaction. Being easy to work with also means they are affordable and offer rush delivery options. When it comes to credential evaluation agencies, you don’t “get what you pay for.” The best ones tend to be inexpensive.
- Did they ask about the visa?
A common cause of an education RFE is that the evaluator wrote the right evaluation for the wrong visa. Many evaluation agencies will write a standard evaluation of your credentials, or your employee or client’s credentials without regard for the particular, unique educational requirements for the H-1B visa. Educational requirements, as well as approval trends and standards surrounding what education and work experience can be combined to write an equivalency vary from visa to visa. For example, an H-1B beneficiary may combine work experience and college credit to write an acceptable equivalency to a US bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, an EB2 beneficiary who tries to do the same thing will fail because for that particular visa the bachelor’s degree must be a single source. The evaluation must lend itself to the visa in question to be successful.
- Did they ask about the job offer?
Just like the particular visa requirements, the evaluation must also lend itself to the client’s job offer. In the past, CIS has accepted petitions in which the beneficiary holds a degree in a field related to the job offer. This is not the case anymore. Now CIS requires beneficiaries to have a degree in their exact field of employ. This is because H-1B visas are for beneficiaries working specialized occupations, with knowledge and skills specialized to their field. While an employer will look at a candidate’s education and work experience and see that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to work their job, if the degree is not in the field, CIS will require more evidence. If your credential evaluator doesn’t ask about your job, or your employee or client’s job, he or she does not understand this and you need to look elsewhere. If your degree, or your employee or client’s degree is in a mismatched field, a credential evaluator with the authority to convert progressive work experience in the field into college credit in that specialization is exactly who you need to be working with.
- Do the often work with RFEs, Denials, and NOIDs?
The credential evaluator you want is one who does not shy away from difficult cases. You, or your employee or client received an RFE, so you want to work with an evaluation agency with extensive experience answering them. It’s important to keep in mind that the roadmap to answering the RFE is NOT IN THE RFE ITSELF. Especially with RFEs like the Nightmare – which is virtually impossible to answer if you follow its instructions – guidance from those who know the terrain and can navigate it successfully is essential to success. Evaluators that work with these kinds of cases know what CIS is looking for in the documentation they request, know what triggers and RFE, and what works and what does not in answering it. These evaluators follow CIS approval trends, which change from year to year.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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:
- You have an audience ready to buy your book.
- 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 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 harshest immigration law in America, HB 56, passed in 2011 in Alabama. Two years later, its policies have been massively scaled back and the anti-immigration fervor that led to its passing has largely subsided.
Aspects of the law fueled by a 2008 election where the anti-immigration rallying cry was “Illegal is illegal” included prohibiting landlords to rent to undocumented immigrants, criminalizing giving aid to these people, and arrest and detainment for failure to provide citizenship papers at routine traffic stops. Students’ legal status at schools were checked and citizens were empowered to sue police officers falling short of enforcing these laws. In the 2012 elections, not only did HB 56’s main proponents, Councilman Chuck Ellis and Mayor Lindsey Lyons not get reelected, but immigration was hardly an issue. Current elected officials in the state tend to take a moderate stance on the issue of undocumented immigrants.
When HB 56 first went into effect, the original goal was to expel undocumented workers from Alabama. The sentiment was that federal policy towards undocumented immigrants wasn’t strong enough and the state took matters into its own hands by passing a law that targeted every aspect of undocumented immigrants’ lives in an effort to force them out. At first, immigrants fled the state, minimized having to leave the house or drive in vehicles, and even kept children home from college to take care of younger siblings in case parents got deported.
“When it first went into effect, people were afraid to go outside,” said Father Tim Pfander of the St. William Catholic Church. His congregation was strongly affected by the law because of his many Hispanic congregants. The laws against aiding undocumented immigrants made soup kitchens and other Christian charities, as well as church ceremonies in Spanish illegal. However, two years later the demographics in schools across the state are about the same as before HB 56 went into effect. He noted, “Today, I think they’ve seen how it’s enforced and are carrying on.”
Churches weren’t the only organizations who felt the weight of HB 56. Many police officers resisted the law simply because they didn’t have the manpower to enforce them. Quick, routine traffic stops turned into long, drawn-out arrests and detentions since the law required local police stations to detain those without documentation until federal immigration authorities could determine what to do with them. Officers had qualms with hauling people off to jail for minor traffic offenses, and confusion about who had to provide papers and when deterred the Hispanic population from reporting crimes committed against them or even talking to police officers. Confusion about when documented proof of citizenship was required also baffled state courts and utilities companies clogging the system and causing long lines for citizens and non-citizens alike.
Even a Mercedez-Benz executive pulled over for not having proper tags on his rental vehicle was subject to arrest and detainment for a traffic citation. This terrified the business community and contributed to Republican Senator Gerald Dial who had voted for HB 56 to say, “I’ve learned in life that if you make a mistake, you should be man enough to admit it.”
Adapted from: Sarlin, Benjy. “How America’s harshest immigration law failed,” MSNBC. December 16, 2013. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/undocumented-workers-immigration-alabama