Every year, we see more and more education RFEs for EB2 visas. This is because the difference between whether a candidate qualifies for an EB2 or an EB3 visa is based on their level of education, and EB3 candidates can find themselves in limbo, waiting up to a decade for their petition to be reviewed. An EB2 visa requires a candidate to hold an advanced degree beyond a US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. USCIS is aware that many of the people who file for EB2 status are doing so to see if they can save time, not because they actually meet the requirements for this visa. In response, the education of EB2 candidates is carefully scrutinized.
You must show that you, your employee, or your client holds the correct degree equivalency to meet the education requirements on the PERM within the parameters of what is acceptable – which is complex. A credential evaluation for any degree from outside of the United States, or that does not match the job title on the PERM is essential. EB2 educational requirements are different than other visa requirements when it comes to what can be converted and combined to prove degree equivalency. For example, unlike other visas, an EB2 candidate’s bachelor’s degree must be a single source.
At TheDegreePeople, we specialize in difficult RFEs. Evaluators use strategies like functional equivalencies and close examination of the academic content of candidates’ education to fulfill CIS educational requirements for this visa while adhering to equivalency restrictions on the PERM. Below are two case studies we have seen recently in which EB2 candidates received common but difficult education RFEs.
The client in the previous case study held a four-year engineering degree from India. Most Indian bachelor’s degrees, however, are three-year programs. One of the biggest RFE triggers is having a three-year bachelor’s degree instead of a US four-year bachelor’s degree. CIS sees the missing fourth year and issues an RFE because the missing year is misunderstood as missing academic content. This is what happened to our client.
To address the missing fourth year, we wrote a detailed credential evaluation that examined the academic content of his three-year degree. This was done by breaking down the number of classroom contact hours required for our client to earn his degree, then use the internationally recognized Carnegie unit conversion that measures college credit hours. Fifteen hours in the classroom is converted into one hour of college credit. The US Department of Education defines a credit hour as “an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement.”
A US four-year bachelor’s degree program requires a minimum of 120 college credit hours to graduate. Our client’s degree required FAR MORE than 120 college credit hours to graduate. We were able to show CIS that the actual academic content of our client’s degree was the equivalency of a US four-year bachelor’s degree and his visa was approved. This is important, because EB2 education requirements insist that the bachelor’s degree be a single source. That means we could not convert years of work experience into college credit to account for the missing year.
One of the biggest educational triggers for RFEs is that the candidate’s education does not match the job title. Just under a decade ago, a candidate could have a degree in a field related to the job title and the visa would be approved. Today, employers hire employees with related degrees all the time because they understand that with a related degree and the proper work experience the candidate has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job. However, in the past six or seven years, CIS has been issuing RFEs for candidates with education that does not exactly match their job title. This was the case with a client who came to us with a difficult RFE.
He had an Indian four-year bachelor’s degree in engineering, and his job was in the field of computer sciences. To address this RFE, we had to show that his bachelor’s degree in engineering was the functional equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences. To do this, we had to show that someone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering could be accepted into the same Master’s program in computer sciences, same as someone with a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences to show that the skills and knowledge necessary to learn to earn an engineering degree equipped the candidate to perform the same functions as someone with a degree in computer sciences. We did this by documenting a host of examples of how our client’s bachelor’s degree in engineering would be accepted for admission into Master’s degree programs in computer sciences, and this proved clearly that the skills and knowledge our client learned in order to have earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering enabled him to be successful in a Master’s degree program in computer sciences. This is a functional equivalency – the bachelor’s degree he held in engineering functioned the same as the degree CIS required him to hold. CIS accepted this evaluation and approved his EB2 visa.
At TheDegreePeople, we see difficult EB2 RFEs day in and day out. While there are never any guarantees with CIS, we have found several strategies that work with consistency. For a review of your case, your employee’s case, or your client’s case at no charge or obligation, please go to www.cciFree.com and fill out the form on the website. Send in the requested documents. I will personally get back to you within 24 hours.
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.
This article was written by Rebecca Little