RFE season is here for cap-subject H1B candidates! The past ten years has seen a massive spike in RFEs with around one quarter of all petitions receiving on, so don’t be surprised if one arrives.
An RFE is an opportunity to strengthen you case, or your employee or client’s case. At TheDegreePeople, we work with H1B RFEs regularly and have found that these five tips in particular help clients find success in answering even the most difficult RFEs.
1. Find out who is at fault for the RFE.
This is not to cast blame, but rather to find out where evidence is lacking and who dropped the ball. Sometimes CIS is at fault. It’s no surprise that CIS makes mistakes. A candidate can file a spotless H1B petition on time, in order, and still receive an RFE. Sometimes the attorney will file the petition wrong. Sometimes the candidate is mistaken or misleading about the actual academic value of their education, sometimes the credential evaluator made a mistake, and sometimes the evaluator wrote an accurate evaluation without taking CIS approval trends and H1B requirements into consideration. Find out who is at fault, and from there discern what must be done to rectify the situation.
2. Read the RFE, but don’t read into it TOO much.
Sit down with your team, read the RFE, figure out what is being asked of you, and then put it down. Getting caught up in the wording of an RFE can distract you from what CIS is actually asking. Instead of focusing on the verbatim of the RFE, discern what they are trying to learn about the candidate based on the evidence they request. RFEs like the Nightmare RFE are virtually impossible to answer by following its own guidelines. The RFE will not tell you how to answer it. Look instead to tip number three.
3. Go back to the initial H1B requirements.
Instead of getting caught up in what the RFE is asking, go back to the original H1B requirements and find out what was lacking in the initial petition. CIS issues an RFE when they don’t feel they have enough information to make a decision of whether or not you or your employee or client meets visa requirements with the evidence and documentation originally given. H1B visas are for highly skilled foreign workers employed in specialty occupations that require a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent as a minimum requirement for the job. The job must meet this requirement, and the candidate must hold that degree or its foreign equivalent in the exact field of their H1B job. Furthermore, you must prove that the candidate and the employer have an employer-employee relationship, the employer is economically viable, and the candidate will be receiving the prevailing wages and benefits for that job in that geographical location for companies of that size. Find out which of these requirements is lacking in evidence and work with your team to fill in the evidentiary gaps left open in the initial petition.
4. For candidates with foreign degrees, incomplete college or no college degrees, or degrees that do not exactly match the job need a credential evaluation.
If you or your employee or client is in one of the above situations, you need to include a credential evaluation in your response to the RFE. CIS will not approve the visa unless there is a clear explanation of why the candidate meets the educational requirements. If you or your employee or client has a foreign visa, it needs to be evaluated for US academic value. For foreign bachelor’s degrees that take three years to complete instead of the US four, the candidate will need a work experience conversion that converts three years of progressive work experience in the field into college credit towards that specialization to account for the missing fourth year. If you or your employee or client has a degree in a field that doesn’t exactly match their job, they will need a work experience conversion as well, and a close examination of their course content to write an equivalency to the correct specialization.
There are many other situations in which a credential evaluation is required. Don’t take chances, simply go to ccifree.com/?CodeHire/ and attach your or your employee or client’s client’s educational documents, a current resume, and the job title or desired equivalency and we will get back to you within 24 hours with a free pre-evaluation and analysis with all of your options.
5. If a credential evaluation is needed, make sure you work with an agency that understands H1B visas.
A common education RFE occurs when a candidate submits the right credential evaluation for the wrong visa. Different visas have different requirements for what is acceptable for equivalencies and conversions. The evaluation agency you need understands the nuances of the H1B visa and also keeps an eye on CIS approval trends, which change.
When you’re talking with a potential credential evaluation agency, keep this in mind: if they don’t ask about the visa or job, they don’t understand what they need to write an evaluation for the visa. Without this information, it is impossible.
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.