RFE season is on its way! One in every four H1b visas tends to receive an RFE, so if your petition, or your employee or client’s petition is met with one, don’t panic! This is not abnormal and can be used as an opportunity to strengthen the case. You just need to know where to look for the answers.
Here’s a hint: The answer to the RFE is NOT in the RFE itself.
CIS will not help you and the RFE will not tell you how to answer it. Looking to the wording of an RFE for your answer is a roadmap to failure. Some RFEs, like the Nightmare RFE, are virtually impossible to answer based on its own wording. Does this mean it’s impossible to answer? Absolutely not! You’ve just got to look elsewhere.
So when the RFE arrives, read it over with your team, then put it away and go back to the initial H1b requirements. See which requirements the initial petition was incomplete in providing evidence for having been met. Then, meet these requirements in a way that CIS can clearly assess.
1.The job must be a specialty occupation.
2.The candidate must hold a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent or higher in the field of this specialty occupation.
3.The candidate and the employer must have an employer-employee relationship.
4.The candidate must be paid prevailing wages and benefits for the job for companies of that size in that geographical location.
Which of these four requirements is lacking? For qualifications 3 and 4, you can provide the employee contract that shows the nature of the duties you or your employee or client will be performing and the requirements and codes of conduct of the work place. Provide paystubs and W2 information along with documentation about similar jobs for similar companies in that geographic location to show that you or your employee or client is receiving the prevailing wages and benefits.
If the petition is lacking in the first qualification, you need to show that the job requires an advanced degree, and specialized skills and knowledge to perform. To meet this requirement, you can provide the advertisement for the job that includes minimum qualifications for the job. You should also provide ads for similar jobs in the same industry for companies of a similar size and scope. If this particular job has higher requirements than similar jobs because this situation uniquely requires specialized knowledge, include an expert opinion letter clearly explaining why this is the case.
Requirement 2 has become trickier every year. In the past, CIS has approved the visas of candidates with degrees in fields related to their specialty occupation. Now, candidates must have a degree that is an exact match for their job. Before you get bogged down in the wording of your RFE, find out what the education situation is and what you can do about it to answer the RFE. Simply go to ccifree.com and submit a current resume and the candidate’s educational documents. Indicate the job and desired degree equivalency and specialization, and we will get back to you within 24 hours with a pre-evaluation and analysis of your options.
If the degree is not an exact match for the specialty occupation, a credential evaluation that converts years of work experience in the field into college credit towards a US bachelor’s degree in that major is needed.
Candidates with degrees from outside of the US also run into trouble with this requirement, particularly candidates with 3-year bachelor’s degrees from India. If you or your employee or client earned the degree from outside of the US, do not submit it without a credential evaluation. Transcripts must be translated and evaluated. These are two very different, and VERY specialized services that cannot be grouped into a one-stop shop. The value of a degree gets lost in translation, and sometimes there is no direct translation for a degree from abroad. Sometimes, degrees do not have the word “degree” in the title but are the functional equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree. Be sure this is a two-step process that first utilizes the services of a translation agency, and THEN utilizes the services of a credential evaluation agency.
Before you get too far into answering the RFE, let us provide a pre-evaluation of the candidate’s education to help overturn an educational RFE. Simply go to ccifree.com and attach the candidate’s educational documents and a current resume, along with the job title and desired degree specialization. We will get back to you within 24 hours with a full analysis and all of your options.
About the Author
Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.