Case Study: 3-Year Bachelor Degree Denial Overturned!

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We recently helped a client with a three-year bachelor’s degree, plus a two-year master’s degree and over ten years of work experience in the field get their visa Denial overturned.  The PERM required our client to have a Master’s Degree plus two years of work experience, which, clearly he did.  The USCIS’s only hang-up – of course – was the three-year bachelor’s degree.

A Denial was issued on our client’s visa because CIS felt the three-year bachelor’s degree was not equivalent to a US four-year bachelor’s degree.  Therefore, they concluded, our client’s Master’s Degree was not the equivalent of a US Master’s Degree either.

In this scenario, we have two options:

First, we could show in a VERY detailed manner how the three-year degree is equivalent to the US four-year degree based on classroom hours.  Since the vast majority of three-year degrees have an academic content of at least 1800 classroom hours – the standard number required for a standard 120 credit US Bachelor’s degree – the academic value is equivalent.  In addition, we would cite numerous three-year degrees that can be earned in the United States, as well as cite legally binding UNESCO instruments.  We would discuss how the Matter of Shah – which the USCIS depends on to deny three-year degrees – is invalid on multiple counts. The statements made about the degree considered are inaccurate; evidence considered is partial and in some cases incorrect, and the judgment extrapolates from commentary on a single degree that is poorly understood to a significant generalization about 3 year degrees. In addition we provide an extensive list of US universities that DO accept three-year degrees for entrance into their Master’s programs.  A Master’s degree from Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, and a whole host of other prestigious colleges and universities can be earned with a three-year Bachelor’s degree.  We would also provide an additional 400 pages of documentation showing how a three-year degree is equivalent to a four-year US bachelor’s degree.

Our second option is to show how the three years of undergrad plus two years of graduate school together are equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree WITHOUT IT BEING CONSIDERED COMBINING.  We do this by citing appropriate memos.  We will then show how five years of progressive work experience in the field is equivalent to a US Master’s degree by citing Federal Case Law.  We can do this successfully EVEN if the option of a Bachelor’s degree plus five years was not listed on the PERM.

As a general rule, we will only go with the first option if an attorney or client specifically requests it, OR if there is no Master’s degree.  The second option is our preference because we have had a 95% approval rate when we use it.  The first option has a lower approval rate for EB2 visas (and 95% for EB3), but for some, it is their only option.
The result – APPROVED.

This article was written by Rebecca Little