Case Study: Difficult H-1B RFE for Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree – Approved

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Education RFEs are some of the most common RFEs H-1B candidates receive post-lottery. Since this work visa is set aside for foreign nationals with US bachelor’s degrees or higher, or their equivalents, when a candidate’s degree was earned in a different country with a different education system, the value of this degree is murky. USCIS agents who evaluate and decide on these visas are NOT international education experts and do not understand the academic content, or the academic structures of degrees in other countries and how this translates into US academic value. To make matters even murkier, each case must be decided on a case-by-case basis because no two pathways through education and work experience are the same. Combined with strict visa requirements and changing CIS trends regarding education, and you get over 25% of all H-1B petitions receiving RFEs.

One of the most common education RFEs for H-1B candidates arrives when a candidate has a three-year bachelor’s degree from India. We get dozens of clients every season coming to us with this RFE because CIS sees the missing fourth year and assumes it to be missing academic content when compared to the US four-year bachelor’s degree. While international education experts argue that duration does not accurately reflect academic content, CIS is hung up on that missing year, and without the right credential evaluation submitted alongside this transcript, an RFE or worse can be expected.

What is the right credential evaluation for this case?

This credential evaluation must take into account the candidate’s job, the particular H-1B education requirements, and the candidate’s work history. The evaluator must be knowledgeable about CIS trends and precedents, and be able to cite the proper decisions, documentation, and evidence to back up each facet of this detailed evaluation.

What we do in this situation is to convert progressive work experience in our client’s field of employ into college credit. The two functional terms here are “progressive” and “in the field of employ.” Progressive work experience means that our client took on progressively more responsibilities and duties as time went on under this employment, implying that education took place through this job. In the field means that this work experience must be in the exact field of our client’s current H-1B job indicated in the petition. This conversion equates three years of progressive work experience in the field to one year of college credit. This is a fairly simple and straightforward way to account for the missing fourth year and yields a high approval rate when it comes to submitting the original petition, and for answering RFEs. We include documentation, expert opinion letters, international recognition for this conversion, and CIS precedent decisions in this evaluation.

If you, or your employee or client receives an RFE for a three-year bachelor’s degree, we can help you overturn it and get your client’s H-1B visa approved.

About the Author 

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to or call 800.771.4723.

This article was written by Rebecca Little