Among the most common H-1B RFEs this year – as in years past – are education RFEs inquiring into the education of the beneficiary. The reason is because this visa is heavily invested in the education of the beneficiary. This H-1B program aims to bring the brightest minds from around the world to work for US companies. Qualifying for an H-1B visa requires the beneficiary to hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent. It also requires the beneficiary to hold a specialty occupation requiring specialized skills and knowledge. Thus, the beneficiary must have the right degree to be fully prepared to work their highly specialized job.
Many H-1B petitioners hold the right degree, but from the wrong country. Or the right degree, but in the wrong specialization. This does NOT mean these candidates do not meet the qualifications for the H-1B visa. It just means they need to go a step further to prove it. Oftentimes, those extra steps are not taken and instead of an Approval, they get an RFE.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why:
Right Degree, Wrong Country
A common RFE is triggered when a beneficiary has the right degree from a country that is not the United States. For example, if you, or your employee or client has a bachelor’s degree in biology from India, and a job in the field of biology that requires a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent, what CIS needs to know is whether or not your education, or your employee or client’s education covers the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the job. Since curriculums, education structures, academic content, and duration of programs differ between countries, CIS does not have all of the information to make this decision. Before you file, talk to a credential evaluator who can write a detailed evaluation of the academic content of your degree, or your employee or client’s degree, as well as experience working in the field of biology. This evaluation will show that even though this degree is not from the United States, you, or your employee or client is prepared with the specialized skill set and knowledge base necessary for the US job. These kinds of petitions filed without a credential evaluation are almost guaranteed to be met with an RFE instead of an approval. If this is what happened to you or your employee or client, it’s not too late to get the evaluation you need. Be sure when you talk to a credential evaluation agency that they understand the nuances of the H-1B visa requirements when it comes to education, as well as current CIS approval trends.
Right Degree, Wrong Specialization
Let’s say your bachelor’s degree, or your employee or client’s bachelor’s degree is in biology, but the job is in chemistry. With only that information, CIS has no way to know whether or not you or your employee or client has the skills and knowledge needed to perform the duties of chemist with a biology degree. The missing information is an evaluation of your education or your employee or client’s education and work experience. If you or your employee or client took classes in chemistry during college, those can be evaluated to count towards the right specialization. If you have, or your employee client has years of work experience in the field of chemistry in which he or she took on progressively more responsibility and learned new skills in the process, that can count towards the right specialization as well. Talk to an evaluator with the authority to closely examine the course content of your degree, or your employee or client’s degree, as well as the authority to convert years of progressive work experience in the field into college credit hours towards the right degree in the right specialization.
Both of these common education RFEs have to do with CIS needing more information about whether or not you or your employee or client has the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their job. With literally hundreds of thousands of petitions to sort through, CIS needs information spelled out very clearly and in an easily digestible fashion. At the same time, the person evaluating your petition or your employee or client’s petition is most likely not an international education expert with the extensive knowledge of different academic structures and equivalencies ready at their disposal. What they don’t know needs to be including in the initial petition, and if not then certainly in your response to the RFE.
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.