But what is functional equivalency?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at what an educational equivalency actually is. For your client’s education to meet visa requirements, you must show that they either have the advanced US degree required for their specialty occupation, or its foreign equivalent. Sometimes, equivalencies across borders, educational systems, and cultures are far from straightforward and cannot simply be evaluated by hours or years or study. In these cases, you need to prove functional equivalency.
An equivalency means that the candidate has the educational experience that has resulted in the same knowledge base and skill set required to work their specialty occupation that a US degree would result in. Equivalency is not always interpreted in a literal sense. Looking up correspondence between degree majors and titles only goes so far when your client has a degree or major that exists in their home country, but not in the United States.
It is possible to device an equivalency based on an understanding of the role of the credential concerned as it functions within its native system, independently of what the major, degree, or title is called. This is particularly true when considering credentials that have a professional or vocational orientation.
To see how this works, let’s take a look at how the US Bachelor’s of Science degree functions in terms of admission to a US Master’s of Business Administration program. By looking at this functional relationship, we can see that the US Bachelor’s of Science equips candidates with the required knowledge base and skill set US MBA programs require students to have to be successful in MBA programs.
Take a US Bachelor of Science with a major in Physics and a US Master of Business Administration. While at first glance, these degrees and majors are unrelated, when considered from the perspective of MBA admissions, a relationship CAN be established because the MBA has a long history of admitting students with Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Physics. They are functionally related in this way. This illustrates that a Bachelor’s of Science in Physics is a functional step – a prerequisite – to an MBA credential. This has particular relevance where USCIS requires that two credentials are related in order to meet a given PERM requirement. Examining admissions practices in Master’s programs in the United States reveals other useful functional relationships not only in the business world, but also in areas such as computer sciences and information management.
If your client has a foreign degree without a clear US equivalency, or a vocational or professional credential, they need to have their education reviewed by an evaluator who possesses a deep understanding of the stages of education in systems around the world. The evaluator you are looking for understands how these systems function so they can discern and clearly explain the functional equivalency of your client’s education.
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, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.