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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.