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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The road to getting your H-1B visa approved is a multi-step process involving three government bureaucracies, your employer and you. The reason for the many steps and different agencies is to ensure the information you submit is consistent. If you submit one petition with different information than another, or with information differing from a transcript, resume, or other required document, it raises a big red flag. For this reason, you and your employer need to work together and be very organized. Make copies of each of the petitions you submit and cross reference them before filing subsequent petitions. Triple-check your answers before filing to make sure all of the information matches. Even misspellings can be met with an RFE you will then have to deal with.
Your H-1B process is a team effort between you and your employer. You will not be a direct part of every step of the process, but it’s important for you to know what’s going on so you can do your part to get all of the documentation and evidence together on time.
After you are approved for hire for your specialty occupation, your employer must submit a Labor Conditions Application to the Department of Labor to prove they meet standard working conditions and can pay you prevailing wages and benefits. This application is for your safety. If they don’t meet labor standards, you don’t want to be working for them anyway. If they can’t pay you fairly for your work, you don’t want to be working for them anyway. If the company isn’t economically viable, you don’t want to be working for them anyway.
Once this application is approved, you and your employer must arrange and file an I-129 petition with the Department of Homeland Security. This petition must provide evidence to prove that your job is a specialty occupation requiring a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent or higher to carry out the tasks of the job. To do this, your employer has to show that industry standards require a specialized degree as a minimum qualification for your job. That means similar companies have the same requirements of employees filling similar positions. Along with this evidence, you also must prove you meet these requirements by submitting your transcripts and diplomas. If your specialized degree is from outside of the United States, you will have to take an extra step to prove the value of your education in terms of US standards by submitted a detailed evaluation of your credentials from an authorized credential evaluation agency. This evaluation will clearly show the academic content and value of your degree in terms of US education standards.
Once your I-129 is approved, you can start in on your H-1B petition with the Department of State. This final petition must clearly prove that you, your employer, and your job meet all of the H-1B visa requirements.
A detail-oriented team effort is required to get your visa approved. Work together with your employer, always keep the lines of communication open, and ALWAYS check over your petitions thoroughly before filing.