Credential Evaluation

How Can You Avoid that H1B RFE?

st is right around the corner and you want to make sure you have the time you need to file a petition that’s going to be approved.In the haste of preparation, it’s important to keep in mind that the rate of RFEs is high and climbing, and submitting a petition that doesn’t meet H1B requirements is a costly waste of time. Meeting H1B educational requirements clearly and initially is the key to visa approval. Successful H1B candidates must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent in their field of employ. This sounds simple enough, but matters get tricky when a candidate holds a degree or vocational certificate from outside of the United States.Many candidates are misinformed about their US educational equivalent. This leads to submitting petitions that are doomed to failure. For example, some candidates have earned diplomas and certificates that are not the equivalent of degrees in the United States. Sometimes, the value of the degree gets lost in translation into English. Some vocational certifications from other countries ARE the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree even though the US vocational certification is not. Foreign credential evaluation is a highly nuanced process that encompasses international education, college and graduate program admissions policies, international trade and commerce agreements, federal case law, and CIS precedent decisions. All of these factors come into play when discerning whether or not you education, or your employee or client’s education meets H1B requirements, and does so with respect to CIS approval trends.Before you get too far on the H1B petition, take the candidate’s education and work experience to a credential evaluation agency. The right agency for you works regularly with H1B cases and their RFEs. When you call or email, they will respond promptly and ask about your or your employee or client’s job and visa. If the agency does not ask about the job and visa, look elsewhere.Don’t file an H1B petition with the wrong education. If a candidate does not meet CIS educational requirements with their foreign degree, they may be able to meet equivalency requirements by including a work experience conversion with a detailed credential evaluation.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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.]]>

Your H1B Job and Education: Tips for Proving Specialization

specialization. H1B visa status is for foreign workers with advanced degrees working specialty occupations. These jobs require a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent as a minimum requirement. Additionally, CIS requires the degree to be in the exact specialization of the job, as has been proven by recurrent CIS approval trends over the past five plus years.If you or your employee or client is applying for H1B visa status, you have two jobs:

  1. Clearly show that the job is a specialty occupation.
  2. Clearly show that the candidate has the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to perform the duties of this occupation.
You can do this by providing evidence and documentation about the nature of the beneficiary’s job and education.Proving Occupational SpecializationTo do this, you must clearly show that the job requires the minimum H1B educational requirements to perform. In the petition, include the ad for the job showing with the minimum requirements are. Also include ads for similar jobs in the same industry to show that this level of specialization is standard for this specific occupation, and not just tailored to meet the needs of you or your employee or client’s visa.If the job does require unique specialization that similar jobs for similar companies do not, include an expert opinion letter about why this is the case. Industry experts, a detailed explanation from the employer, and other reputable professionals are necessary to prove that the job meets H1B specialization requirements.Proving Educational SpecializationOnce you have clearly shown that the job is a specialty occupation, now you must show that you or your employee or client meets the educational requirements for the job, H1B requirements, and CIS approval trends.To do this, you or your employee or client must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent in the exact field of the specialty occupation. That means if the job is in Computer Systems Analysis, the degree must be in Computer Systems Analysis. If the job is in Chemistry, the degree must be in Chemistry.If you or your employee or client holds a degree in a related field, this will not work for CIS. What also won’t work for CIS is having a degree from outside of the US. Both of these situations require an extra step when organizing the petition: credential evaluation.Take the beneficiary’s education and work experience to a foreign credential evaluator with experience working with H1B visas and their RFEs. These evaluators know what CIS is looking for and what tends to trigger an RFE. They understand what CIS needs to evidence equivalency, and these needs change. For example, if you or your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree from India, CIS will not accept that this is the equivalency of a US four-year bachelor’s degree even if it has the same or greater number of college credit hours. CIS needs a work experience conversion, wherein three years of progressive work experience in the field can be converted to one year of college credit in the field by a professor with the authority to do this. Many credential evaluation agencies work with professors with this authority for this very reason. This conversion can also be used to write an equivalency to the degree in the correct field to prove that you have, or your employee or client has the specialized skills and knowledge necessary for the specific H1B job.If you or your employee or client has a degree from outside of the United States, or a degree in the wrong specialization, do NOT submit the petition without a credential evaluation. Without one, you have not proven specialization, which is the key aspect of this visa.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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.  ]]>

Your Guide to 2017 H1B Education Requirements and Approval Trends

H1B eligibility has two main requirements:

  1. The candidate’s job must be a specialty occupation.
To meet H1B eligibility requirements, you or your employee or client must have a specialty occupation. That means the job requires a minimum of a US Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent to perform. This is because the job requires advanced skills and knowledge specific to the industry and position, requiring a highly skilled worker to perform. To meet this requirement, you need to show the ad for the job that indicates its minimum requirements, as well as ads for similar positions in the same industry. That will prove that it is an industry requirement to possess an advanced degree as a minimum requirement for this job. If the job is particularly complex, include an expert opinion letter stating why.
  1. The candidate must hold an advanced degree.
Once you’ve proven the job meets H1B educational requirements, you must show that the candidate meets these requirements as well. You or your employee or client must hold a US Bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent. This means that if you have, or your employee or client has a degree from outside of the United States, it must be evaluated for its US academic value because education systems vary greatly from country to country. Some degrees call themselves by the same name when translated, but have completely different academic content. Others have different names when translated but equivalent academic value. CIS will not know without a clear, detailed credential evaluation that explains the US academic value of the foreign degree.Working with a foreign credential evaluation agency that understands H1B requirements and approval trends is key to getting the evaluation needed for the petition.Even if you meet, or your employee or client meets H1B requirements, approval trends have changed. The prevalence of RFEs in response to petitions that make the H1B lottery have spiked in recent years. This is due in part to the massive influx of petitions in recent years that far surpass the annual H1B visa cap, and also as an attempt by CIS to crack down on visa fraud. When preparing the petition, ALWAYS keep CIS educational trends in mind.Below are the two main trends we’ve seen regularly trigger RFEs in the past five years:
  1. The candidate’s degree specialization must be an exact match for the job offer.
In recent years, CIS has tightened its approval trends when it comes to the degree matching the job offer. Even if the candidate was hired with a degree in a field related to the industry, CIS requires an EXACT match to prove that the candidate has the specific skills necessary for the industry. If you have, or your employee or client has a degree in a related or generalized field, you need a credential evaluation for an equivalency to a degree in the exact field. For example, if the job is in chemistry and the degree in biology, what is needed is a credential evaluation to show the candidate has the skills and knowledge specific to chemistry. This can be done by taking a close look at the academic content of the degree, specifically courses taken in the candidate’s field of employ, as well as the candidate’s work experience in the field. Consult with a credential evaluation agency that works with professors authorized to convert work experience into college credit to find out if you or your employee or client has the education and work experience necessary to fill in the gaps between the degree and the job offer. Three years of work experience in the field in which you or your employee or client took on more responsibility and complexity in the work can be converted into one year of college credit in the field.
  1. Three-year Bachelor’s degrees require a work experience conversion.
If you have, or if your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree, CIS requires a work experience conversion to account for the missing fourth year for the US four-year Bachelor’s degree equivalency. This is a new trend. In years past, we saw success in breaking down the number of classroom contact hours in a three-year degree and converting classroom contact hours into college credit hours. This typically worked because many three-year bachelor’s degrees have the same number of credit hours as a US four-year bachelor’s degree, just in condensed duration. However, in recent years, CIS has ONLY approved degrees with a work experience conversion. That missing fourth year matters to CIS, so it matters to you. You can use the three years of work experience to one year of college credit in the field conversion as discussed above.The sooner you can find out if you, or your employee or client has the education and work experience necessary to meet CIS approval trends the better. Talk to a foreign credential evaluation agency with experience working with H1B visas and H1B RFEs. They understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting the H1B visa approved, and after a consult, so will you.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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.]]>

2017 EB2 Education Trends You Need to Know About

The Degree must EXACTLY fit the job title on the PERMOne common mistake in EB2 filing occurs when a candidate’s education does not exactly match the job title on the PERM. In the past, CIS has allowed candidates with degrees in fields related to their job to have their visas approved, but educational standards have tightened. This means if you have, or if your employee or client has a degree in a field that doesn’t exactly fit the field of employ, you cannot simply file as is. EB2 occupations are highly specialized, and you need to clearly show CIS that you have, or your employee or client has the precise skills and knowledge necessary to excel at the job. This means having education specialized to the profession. If this is you situation, or your employee or client’s situation, have a credential evaluator with experience working with EB2 petitions review the education and work experience. With the proper conversions, documentation, and citations, you may be able to get the evaluation needed to account for the proper degree specialization.The Bachelor’s Degree must be a SINGLE SOURCEIf the bachelor’s or master’s degree is not an exact match for the job title on the PERM, or if you or your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree, or anything other than a straightforward US education that fits the field of employ, DO NOT file without a credential evaluation. The purpose of this is to explain that the candidate holds the educational value equivalency of the education required by CIS to meet EB2 eligibility requirements. However, this leads into another common problem EB2 candidates face: the bachelor’s degree must be a SINGLE SOURCE. Unlike other visas, you cannot combine work experience and college credit to make the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree equivalency in the correct specialization. However, CIS does accept a work experience conversion of ONLY years of work experience in the field into enough years of college credit to meet CIS requirements for bachelor’s degree equivalency. Talk to a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience into college credit to see if you have, or your employee or client has the background necessary for this solution.EB2 processing time is years shorter than the time it takes to process EB3 petitions. For this reason, candidates are tempted to try to meet EB2 requirements even if they do not. DO NOT BE TEMPTED BY THIS. It is a waste of time. However, if the EB2 educational requirements can be met, definitely take advantage of this. Before you file, have a credential evaluator with extensive experience working with EB2 cases and EB2 RFEs review your case, or your employee or client’s case and see if you can clearly meet the requirements for this visa. If the education and work experiences fit, congratulations! Go for it.About the Author  Sheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of TheDegreePeople.com a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723. ]]>

2017 H1B Education Trends You Need to Know Before Your File

Three-Year Bachelor’s DegreesCIS has not been approving candidates with three-year bachelor’s degrees, PARTICULARLY the Indian three-year bachelor’s degree. International education experts understand that in most cases the academic content is the same if not greater than a US four-year bachelor’s degree just condensed into three years. CIS still requires the missing fourth year be accounted for, and that’s what really matters in this situation.If you or your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree, DO NOT make the mistake of submitting an H1B petition without making sure the missing fourth year is CLEARLY accounted for. This requires a detailed credential evaluation written by an evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience into college credit. CIS allows for three years of work experience in the field in which the candidate took on progressively more roles, duties, and responsibilities of increasing complexity to be evaluated as the equivalent of one year of college credit. Talk to a credential evaluator with experience working with H1B cases involving three-year bachelor’s degrees.Degree Specialization does not match the Job Offer In the not-too-distant past, CIS would approve candidates with degrees in fields related to their industry. However, the past six or seven years has shown that CIS will ONLY approve petitions in which the degree specialization exactly matches the job offer, and we don’t predict that this trend will change any time soon.If you or your employee or client has a degree in a major that is different from his or her field of employ, or has a generalized degree, or has an job that doesn’t have many exact majors like Computer Systems Analysis, DO NOT make the mistake of filing with the transcripts alone. The H1B visa is for workers in highly specialized occupations and a highly specialized skill set. If your education or if your employee or client’s education alone does not show that he or she possesses the specialized skills and knowledge necessary for the field of employ, the H1B requirements are not CLEARLY met. This doesn’t mean that the candidate isn’t qualified, especially since the employer clearly seems to think so. What you need to do in this case is send your or your employee or client’s transcripts and work history to a credential evaluator who can write a detailed evaluation that explains the equivalency of your experience, or your employee or client’s experience to a Bachelor’s degree in the right specialization. This means looking at the course content, as well as years of progressive work experience in the field, and writing a thorough evaluation backed by evidence, precedent decisions, and documentation.Degree that Doesn’t Call itself a “Degree”Some certifications from countries outside of the US are the functional equivalent of US bachelor’s degrees. This means that while these degrees don’t call themselves “degrees,” the steps required to earn these certifications are the equivalent of the US academic value of a bachelor’s degree. One such certification is the Indian Chartered Accountancy. While the Canadian Chartered Accountancy and the US CPA are do not contain the steps required for a bachelor’s degree equivalency, the Indian Chartered Accountancy does.If you or your employee or client has a degree that doesn’t call itself a degree like the Indian Chartered Accountancy, DO NOT make the mistake of filing without a credential evaluation that explains the functional equivalency of your education or your employee or client’s education. This is a very detailed process that requires a lot of CIS hand-holding, taking them through the steps of education of the degree step by step.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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.]]>

Expert Tips for You To Successfully Answer an H1B RFE

  • Don’t expect your RFE to tell you how to answer it.
  • A big mistake candidates and their lawyers make every year is expecting the RFE to be helpful. When you read the RFE, remember that it is a tool CIS uses to weed out petitions. It’s a red flag. There are far too many petitions for the annual H1B visa cap every year and your RFE or your employee or client’s RFE is most likely a documented excuse for denial rather than a tool to help you. Read the RFE, make note of what it’s asking, but don’t get caught up in its wording and specific demands. Remember, some RFEs are virtually impossible to answer based on the directions they provide. This does not mean they’re impossible to answer. You just need to look for the answers in the right places.
    1. Reference and Understand H1B Requirements.
    The initial H1B eligibility requirements are the right place to look for the answers you need to get that RFE overturned. Your RFE, or your employee or client’s RFE was triggered because the evidence provided in the initial petition fell short of clearly proving the initial H1B requirements were met. Find out which requirements CIS is unclear about. When you go over the RFE, first revisit the detailed requirements INCLUDING current CIS educational trends, and then have these requirements on hand while you read through the RFE to discern where evidence was lacking. Then, figure out what documentation you need to fill in the gaps.
    1. Don’t expect to always be able to provide the specific materials the RFE requests.
    You will NOT always be able to get the specific documents CIS requests in the time allotted to answer the RFE. RFEs like The Nightmare are not designed to be answered, they are designed to confuse and justify denying the visa. If you follow the directions in an RFE like this one, you will find yourself out of time, out of money, and nowhere closer to getting your visa, or your employee or client’s visa approved. So don’t expect to in the first place and you will save yourself a whole heap of stress.
    1. Discern what it is CIS really wants to know.
    So you’ve reviewed the initial H1B requirements, you understand that the answer to your RFE does not lie within the RFE itself, and you know that you won’t necessarily be able to provide the exact documentation CIS requests in the RFE. Now it’s time to discern what CIS really wants to know. Sit down together, read the RFE with the initial H1B requirements, and figure out what CIS really wants to know. Where was clarity lacking in the initial petition? In many cases, the shortcomings have to do with CIS approval trends regarding educational equivalencies, or with proving specialization. When you meet with your team, be sure that your team includes a credential evaluator with experience working with H1B RFEs, understands CIS education regulations and approval trends, and has an in-depth understanding of international education. Education requirements and what is and what is not accepted as valid educational equivalencies for H1B visas have changed in recent years, and meeting these requirements can take a creative approach.
    1. MEET THE DEADLINE.
    Don’t miss the deadline. Make sure your RFE answer is filed by the deadline, and includes all of the documentation and evidence you need to strengthen your case, or your employee or client’s case, in order, and easy to read. It is highly unlikely you will get an extension, and missing the deadline will most likely lead to the case getting rejected.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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.]]>

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