In the past five to six years, the USCIS has tightened its standards surrounding what academically qualifies an EB2 applicant for his or her specialty occupation. This has caused an outbreak of RFE’s for education situations because USCIS standards are tighter than those of employers.
Many employees are hired because their bachelor’s or master’s degrees in a field related to their occupation is sufficient for their employers to recognize that they have the specialized skills and knowledge to be successful at their jobs. Even though the degree may not precisely fit the field of employ, the knowledge base is there. This is not the case for the USCIS.
Now, the USCIS has been issuing RFE’s to petitioners whose degree specialization doesn’t exactly match their field of employ. If a foreign degree is deemed to be equivalent to the necessary US degree, if the specialization does not match the field of employ, the USCIS will not recognize that the applicant’s education meets PERM requirements.
This is what happened to our client. He came to us with an education RFE for this very reason. He held a bachelor’s degree in engineering from abroad, which the USCIS agreed was the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in engineering. Unfortunately, to meet the USCIS educational standards for his job, the USCIS required a bachelor’s degree in computer science, not engineering. Although the fields are related to the point of much academic overlap, a bachelor’s degree in engineering was not good enough.
We were able to provide the evidence requested in his RFE and his EB2 visa was approved. We did this by supplying extensive research and evidence to show how his bachelor’s degree in engineering degree was functionally equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences. Had his degree been a three-year degree, our evaluation would have consisted of a close examination of the course content of his degree, as well as converting years of work experience in the computer sciences field into Carnegie Unit credit hours.
However, since his engineering degree was a four-year degree already, what we needed to do was clearly spell out that our client’s educational experience – both inside and outside of the classroom – had more than equipped him with the specialized skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career in the computer sciences field. Through our examination, we were able to show that his engineering degree was the functional equivalent of a computer sciences degree by giving a host of examples of how his engineering degree would be accepted for admission to a master’s degree program in computer sciences. This clearly proved that the skills and knowledge he gained in his educational experience made him eligible to be successful in a master’s program in his field of employ. The USCIS accepted this and approved his visa.
Sheila Danzig is the director of Career Consulting International at www.TheDegreePeople.com, a foreign credential evaluation agency. They specialize in difficult cases and RFEs, Denials, NOIDs, 3-year degrees, etc. and offer a free review of all H1B, E2, and I140 education at http://www.ccifree.com/.
This article was written by Rebecca Little