Sheila Danzig

Case Study: Specialty Occupation RFE Overturned with Some Expert Opinion Letters but not Others

The Specialty Occupation RFE has become the new nightmare
facing H-1B beneficiaries, their sponsors, and their lawyers.  They can be answered successfully with the
inclusion of an expert opinion letter, but this does not always work.

There are two reasons why:

1. The letter is
lacking in detail.  
USCIS requires a
very detailed letter with a breakdown of the daily duties and responsibilities
of the job and how specialized knowledge and skills are required to carry them
out.  They need to understand this position
and its educational requirements within the broader context of the industry,
and they need to know all of the factors that went into setting the wage
level.  A detailed expert opinion letter
can only accomplish this if you provide said expert with as many details as
possible.  USCIS needs to know absolutely

2. The expert lacks
field experience.  
Every expert we
work with at CCI has extensive experience working in their
field of expertise.  While some of our
experts are professors in that field, they also work directly in the
field.  Teaching about the field is not
good enough for USCIS to consider someone an expert – they must WORK IN THE
FIELD beyond simply teaching it, and have extensive field experience and
respect within the field of specialization. 
When the right expert writes a detailed letter, the Specialty Occupation
RFE is overturned and the visa is approved. 
When the WRONG expert writes it, even if the letter is detailed, USCIS
denies the visa.

Make sure you work with the RIGHT expert this RFE season.  We have the right kind of experts on hand in every field ready to help you get that RFE overturned.  Your job is to provide the details, and their job is to lend their authority to strengthen your case and get that RFE overturned.  Get a free review of your case. We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.

International Student Enrollment Critical to the Survival of Community Colleges in the United States

We recently wrote a press release regarding the alarming drop in enrollment in community colleges across the country due to dropping high school graduation rates and the low unemployment rate. At the same time, community colleges that make it easy for international students to enroll are seeing stable – and even rising – enrollment rates. Our press release appeared in dozens of news sources to spread the word to community colleges to open their doors to international students, and how best to do this.

H-1B Specialty Occupation Survival Guide for the FY2020 Lottery

Next week, USCIS begins accepting H-1B petitions on Monday April 1st.  We suspect that this year there will be more than enough petitions to fill the 65,000 general H-1B cap-subject visas and the additional 20,000 H-1B visas for advanced degrees, resulting in a lottery.

Getting selected in the lottery is just the first step of the process.  Last year, the rate of RFEs for H-1B petitions jumped 45% from the year before, and of the petitions that received an RFE only 60% ended up being approved.

The two most common RFE issues that blocked beneficiaries from getting their visas approved outright – and in some cases entirely – were specialty occupation and wage level.  These two issues often came tied together as USCIS made the assumption that occupations set at level one wages were entry level, and many of these assumed positions did not ALWAYS require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher for entry not the position.  For this reason, USCIS stated that the beneficiary either was not being paid the prevailing wage for the specialty occupation, or the job did not meet specialty occupation requirements.

This year, USCIS adjudicators have the authority to deny petitions outright without first issuing an RFE to give beneficiaries the chance to strengthen their case.  That means you have to get it right the first time. 

Here’s how:

When the petition is filed, be sure to include a detailed job description that clearly shows the complex nature of the job, including examples of duties in which theoretical or practical application of specialized knowledge must be applied.  You need to provide sufficient documentation that the job is complex in nature, and that the position requires a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent to perform. This can be done by providing the ad for the job along with ads for the same position in different companies within the industry, documentation of past employer hiring practices to show that the position always requires this educational minimum qualification, and an expert opinion letter from a professional with extensive experience WORKING IN THE FIELD of the H-1B job that explains why this position meet specialty occupation requirements, and why the wage level is appropriate.

Petitions are rejected when there is not sufficient evidence to show that the job, the employer, the beneficiary, and the contract all meet H-1B requirements.

USCIS has assured H-1B hopefuls and their sponsors that a petition will not be denied simply because the wages are set at level one.  Don’t take chances.  Make sure to give USCIS a detailed breakdown of all of the factors that went into setting the wage level backed up with an expert opinion letter.

Remember, the right expert to write the opinion letter USCIS will accept – because expert opinion letters are often rejected – is someone who has extensive experience working in the field.  A professor in the field is not sufficient; the expert must have actual working experience in the field rather than just teaching it for the opinion to have weight.  At CCI we vet our experts to make sure they have the right credentials and work experience.  We have an over 90% approval rate for specialty occupation and wage level RFEs.  The more information you can provide your expert about the H-1B job the better the letter will be and the higher chance that you, or your employee or client will have of H-1B visa approval.

For a free review of your case visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less and have rush delivery options for the last minute.


What is Different about the FY2020 H-1B Lottery Beginning April 1st?

This year, there have been some changes made to the H-1B lottery process and to approval adjudication. 

As in years previous, 65,000 H-1B visas are available for beneficiaries with US Bachelor degrees or higher or their equivalent, and 20,000 H-1B visas are allotted for beneficiaries with advanced degrees of US Master degree or higher.  What is different about this year is that in previous years the 20,000 advanced degree visas are selected in the first lottery, and then the visas left over are thrown in with the second general lottery for the remaining 65,000 visas.  This year, the general lottery will happen first.  Then, the remaining petitions for beneficiaries with advanced degrees will enter into the lottery for the additional 20,000 visas.  This is good news for advanced degree holders.

The second difference is that this year USCIS adjudicators have the authority to deny H-1B visas outright without first issuing an RFE to give petitioners a chance to defend and strengthen their cases. 

It is estimated that there will be about 150,000 H-1B visa petitions submitted the first week of April for cap-subject H-1B visas for FY2020.  Last year, the approval rate for H-1B candidates selected in the lottery was 60%, a rate that has been declining since 2016.  Along with this, the approval rate for cases that received an RFE dropped from 83.2% in 2015 to just 62.3% in 2018 with a massive spike in the overall rate of RFE responses from USCIS.

At CCI, over 90% of our clients who came to us with H-1B RFEs succeeded in getting their RFEs overturned and their visas approved.  We work with difficult cases every year, and this year we urge you to anticipate any RFEs you, or your client or employee’s case is likely to run into BEFORE you file.  This means additional documentation, expert opinion letters from the RIGHT kind of expert, and credential evaluations must be submitted with the initial filing. 

For a free review of your case, visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.


H1B 2019 Post-Memorandum: Who Caused that RFE?

Sometimes it’s no one’s fault, and sometimes it’s fault of USCIS.When working with any bureaucratic process, there is the possibility of error.  When working with USCIS, there is the understanding that processing errors occur, and that their approval trends are volatile and can be unpredictable.  It can be difficult to anticipate which parts of the law they will interpret which way from year to year.  If approval issues arise due to bureaucratic or human error, there will likely be a way to address it.  A Denial is not the end of the road, it is just harder to overturn than an RFE.  If it is no one’s fault, or if USCIS pulls a fast one on us again, we can find a way to work around it.Sometimes the lawyer caused the RFE.Occasionally, an immigration attorney will file the wrong document, or file the petition wrong.  While this is rare, it can cost an outright approval.  To prevent this, legal assistants are encouraged to check in with to make sure that they have all of the necessary immigration forms, labor forms, and documentation necessary to file everything on time, in the right order, and filled out appropriately.Sometimes the beneficiary caused the RFE.It is not uncommon for a beneficiary to misunderstand the US academic equivalency of their education.  Sometimes a bachelor’s degree in one country is not a bachelor’s degree in the United States because even though the words translate the educational value does not.  Some certifications and professional licenses in some countries are the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in that field, while the US license or certification is not.  Sometimes a beneficiary will have a degree from an unaccredited academic institution, or even from a degree mill.  It is important for beneficiaries to understand their education, and what it means in terms of US value, and to make sure that their school is accredited.  If the beneficiary does not have the necessary education, it is their responsibility to make sure they have enough education and work experience to make up the equivalency.Sometimes it’s the employer or the job that caused the RFE.If the Labor Condition Application (LCA) is filled out incorrectly or misfiled, if there are discrepancies between the job description and the entry on the LCA, if USCIS feels that the wage level was set incorrectly or that the job does not meet specialty occupation requirements, issues will likely arise in the approval process.  It is recommended that all petitions now include an expert opinion letter clarifying that the job meets H1B specialty occupation requirements and explaining why the wage level is set as it is to meet H1B requirements.Before you file, let us review your case to make sure all your bases are covered.  It is more important this year than ever before to get it right the first time, because you may not get a second chance.  For a free review of your case visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less. ]]>

TheDegreePeople Can Help Legal Assistants With Expert Letters

Family Immigration CasesWhile we specialize in visa cases that rely heavily on education, we also work on family immigration cases.  Expert opinion letters are often needed to lend an outsider’s objective input to your case.  An expert in the field or with advanced insight into the issues your client is dealing with can be the difference between approval and rejection.  For family cases, we can help you with the petition for an alien relative Form I-130, application to register for permanent residence to adjust status Form I-485, the Affidavit of Support Form I-864, and any additional forms.L-1A and L-1B CasesThis work visa is for foreign employees working for a company abroad that has branches, subsidiaries, or a parent company in the United States to come work at one of these corporate family entities in the United States.  L-1A is for mangers and executives, and L-1B is for specialized knowledge professionals.  Let us go over your case and determine if expert opinion letters and credential evaluations are needed to show that the beneficiary meets educational requirements corresponding with the visa classification, and proving that the occupation meets L-1A or L-1B requirements.  We can help you with Form I-129 and the special L supplement, and Form I-797.E Visa CasesThese visas are for treaty traders and investors (E-1 and E-2 respectively), and for Australian nationals coming to the United States to work specialty occupation positions (E-3).We also offer assistance with cover letters and business plans, which are crucial to this visa classification.  Any additional expert opinion letters or credential evaluations necessary to show that the beneficiary meets the educational requirements of the visa, or that the position meets specialty occupation requirements can also be ordered through us alongside form assistance.  We can also help with Form I-129, and with the LCA required for E-3 cases.Waivers and Permission to Reapply CasesIf your client is facing inadmissibility or legal issues when attempting to enter the United States, or has been removed or deported from the country in the past, we can help you file the waiver you need to get your client admitted.  We can help with the Waiver of Grounds for Inadmissibility Form 601, and Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiter Form I-601A.  Both I-601 forms also require From G-1145.  The Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal Form I-212 also requires a Form G-1145.We handle expert opinion letters and credential evaluations for visa cases, and can help you determine which immigration forms you will need for any given case and how to obtain them.  Let us help you get organized.  For a free quote, visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.]]>

Which is the ONLY Evaluation Agency in the PERM Book?

The PERM Book is out, created by 21 immigration law experts to guide those involved in PERM cases through the complex and nuanced process of visa approval today.This comprehensive book covers all steps in the PERM petition process, including unique and difficult cases, and how to appeal a Denial.  At CCI, we are proud to be the only credential evaluation agencies included in The PERM Book.  Over the years, we have worked closely with the country’s top immigration attorneys to find creative solutions to any situation that the PERM petition process throws at us.  We have developed successful strategies to prevent PERM issues that often result in Denials, and to successfully address these issues when they arrive post-filing.CCI TheDegreePeople is a member of the International Center for Academic Excellence, which is one of only three credential evaluation membership organizations with UNESCO approval.  We maintain an updated reference library to ensure that each credential evaluation is uniquely and thoroughly researched with regards to the job, the visa, the education, and current USCIS approval trends.  We maintain a network of experts internationally in every field of specialization for expert opinion letters, and we now assist legal professionals in obtaining and filing the appropriate documents needed for each education-based and employment focused visa cases.If you work with PERM cases, or are an employer sponsoring a PERM employee, or if you are a PERM beneficiary, we highly recommend this book as a resource for success.  To purchase a copy, visit a free review of your case, visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.  ]]>

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