Credential Evaluation

International Students Scapegoated for General Trend of Academic Dishonesty in US Colleges and Universities

In early June, Wall Street Journal published a highly-circulated article stating that the number of international students caught cheating in US colleges and universities in the 2014-15 school year was 5.1 in 100, while the number for domestics students was 1 in 100.  The article then went into a list of reasons why international students are more likely to cheat, cheating tactics and strategies, and why schools are turning a blind eye.  However, these numbers are problematic, as WSJ touches on in their article, and this statistic is not representative of international students in general, which this article will explain shortly.

First, let us take a look at how this survey got its numbers.  Over a dozen US colleges and universities were involved in this survey.  The survey’s results are based on institution-reported rates of cheating.  The reason the number of participating institutions is not higher is because many of the schools approached do not track cheating in such a way because it would not be reflective of those who cheat and get away with it, and the actual chore of collecting and interpreting this data is overwhelming.  Why is this?  According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, about 60% of all US college and university students report having cheated at least once in the last academic year.  This number includes both foreign and domestic students.  This means schools cannot track actual rates of cheating because it is so rampant.  It also means that while schools are catching international students cheating at higher rates than domestic students, the fact of the matter is who they catch does not reflect the rates of who actually cheats.
The second problem is that schools quantify cheating in different ways, a crucial difference in measurement that WSJ indicated was not taken into account in the cited survey.  Some schools quantify cheating by the number of incidents, while other schools quantify by the number of students involved. Since many of the incidents of students getting caught included clusters of students all having the same wrong answer on a test raising a big red flag, the number of incidents and the number of students involved yield vastly different rates of academic dishonesty.
WSJ delved into the reasons as to why rates of cheating were so high amongst international students.  High pressure to do well to keep their visa status, trouble with the English language, and misunderstanding of US academic integrity were all on the list.  Another factor indicated is that schools have been accepting more and more international students without taking into consideration the extra socialization these students need to fully integrate into the US academic atmosphere and be successful.  These students face high pressure to succeed in a new culture and in a non-native language, and are targeted by entrepreneurs offering test-taking and custom paper-writing services that have been discovered on college and university campuses across the country.  It is also believed that the high rates of international students caught cheating means that since these students feel that everyone else is being academically dishonest anyway they might as well join in and ease the pressure.  Meanwhile, WSJ reports that international students caught cheating do not get expelled because schools depend on the high tuition rates they pay to offset in-state tuition and deceased state subsidies.
While it is true that international students have kept colleges and universities in the US financially healthy, it is not true that there is a culture of cheating amongst these students. It is true that international students are targeted by services offering to take tests, write papers, and even take on a student’s entire course load – for an ample fee, of course.  However, the vast majority of international students do not buy into these services, and could not afford them even if they wanted to.  It is easier to catch cheating when a student who does not speak English very well turns in a beautifully written paper, or an impersonator shows up to take a student’s test, however the rates of who gets caught cheating do not accurately reflect the rates of all of those who cheat.
While WSJ interviewed professors and administrators of college and universities, they overlooked a group of professionals that works very closely with international students from all over the world: foreign credential evaluators.  Foreign credential evaluators are international education experts who understand academic infrastructure, norms, and ethics around the world.  Evaluators work closely with these students to evaluate their foreign education in terms of US academic standards for the purposes of admission to undergraduate and graduate programs in the US, as well as employment and visa status.
Sheila Danzig, international education expert and Executive director of prominent credential evaluation agency TheDegreePeople does not agree that there is a culture of cheating amongst international students.  In fact, she sees quite the opposite.
“The 5.1 in 100 ratio does not accurately reflect the reality of academic integrity in US colleges and universities,” explains Danzig.  “International students tend to be incredibly honest and hardworking, and greatly appreciate the opportunity to earn a degree in the United States.”
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, RFEs, Denials, or NOIDs, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.
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Common Foreign Degrees that Get Lost in Translation

kandidat naouk – which is generally considered to be the equivalent of a US doctorate degree. However, it cannot be TRANSLATED as such; the degree must be evaluated in terms of academic content and functional equivalency. In the same way, the Indian Chartered Accountancy Certificate, which is the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, is NOT a US CPA, a certificate that does not equate to postsecondary education. However, the Canadian Chartered Accountancy Certificate DOES fit the equivalency of a US CPA, and for this reason candidates with Indian Chartered Accountancy certificates often have their degrees mistranslated in such a way that it looses academic value.How can you prevent mistranslations from putting a costly damper on your EB2 filing process? First, have the documents translated. The translator should make direct translations without inserting value judgment, sticking to the literal translation of the words in the document. Second, take these translated documents to a credential evaluator who can review the language translation for academic accuracy, and then write the detailed evaluation necessary to show the academic value of your client’s education. Do not trust agencies that offer a one-stop shop for translation and evaluation. If your educational documents, or your employee or client’s educational documents must be translated, make sure that translation and evaluation remains a two-step process, working with professionals in both separate fields.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, RFEs, Denials, or NOIDs, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.]]>

Five Questions to Ask to Find the Right Credential Evaluator

  • Are they easy to work with?
  • What does this look like? When you call, she answers. When you text or email, she responds promptly. When you have a question, it gets answered to your satisfaction the first time. You feel comfortable talking to him and asking any question you may have without fear of judgment. Being easy to work with also means the evaluator is affordable and offers rush delivery options to meet your needs and the needs of your employee or client. An evaluator who makes it easy for you to work with them wants to work with you and prioritizes customer service.
    1. Did they offer a free review of your case, or your employee or client’s case?
    Only work with evaluators who will review your client’s education and consult with you on how to best proceed before asking for payment. An evaluator cannot know what services to provide without first reviewing your case, or your employee or client’s cases. Particularly when it comes to EB2 visa eligibility, an evaluator needs to take a close look at your education and work experience, or your employee or client’s education and work experience to determine if the strict PERM educational requirements for this visa can actually be met.
    1. Do they work with RFEs, Denials, and NOIDs often?
    Evaluators who work with difficult cases on a regular basis understand what works and what does not work in getting these difficult cases approved. They have insight into what triggers an RFE, Denial, or NOID, and they understand what tends to work when addressing them, even when the pathway to approval is not clear. Evaluators who work with these kinds of cases on a regular basis can understand what questions CIS is looking to have answered in the documentation they ask you or your employee or client to provide. They also have deeper insight into CIS approval trends, which change with every year.
    1. Did they ask about your visa, or your employee or client’s visa?
    Educational requirements vary from visa to visa, and what kinds of educational equivalencies and combinations of education and work experience CIS will accept vary from visa to visa. For example, with an H1B visa, candidates can combine work experience with college credit to form a US four-year bachelor’s degree equivalency. This is not the case for EB2, where the bachelor’s degree equivalency must be a single source. If the evaluator did not ask about your client’s visa, he does not know this vital element in writing the evaluation you and your client need.
    1. Did they ask about your job offer or your employee or client’s job offer?
    The evaluation that will get your client’s visa approved lends itself to your job, or your employee or client’s job. PERM educational requirements insist that your degree, or your employee or client’s degree be an exact match for the job offer. This means that if the degree is in a related or completely different field from the job, the evaluation must compensate for this and show that you, or your employee or client has the academic equivalency of a degree in the field of employ. This is a common problem because employers commonly hire people with degrees in related fields with work experience in the field because employers know these workers have the specialized skills and knowledge needed to perform job duties. CIS needs an exact match. A credential evaluator cannot write the evaluation that you, or your employee or client needs without knowing the job offer.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, RFEs, Denials, or NOIDs, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.]]>

    American Immigration Council and AILA File Suit against USCIS over H-1B Lottery

    can influence is what happens when your petition makes the lottery, and you can influence this by understanding CIS trends for what gets approved and what does not.”H-1B visa requirements are largely based on the nature of the candidate’s job and education. For this reason CIS trends surrounding requirements pertaining to these facets are important to understand and anticipate. This is the difference between your visa or your employee or client’s visa getting approved or receiving an RFE or worse. These trends also change, and have changed over the past five or six years and the number of H-1B petitions flooding in has increased.Danzig recommends consulting with a credential evaluator who consistently works with H-1B cases and RFEs before filing a petition or responding to an RFE. Evaluators who do the difficult work gain a complex understanding of international education norms, CIS trends, and what works and what does not work.“Forget about the lottery and focus on what you can do,” advises Danzig.Sheila 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.]]>

    Two Common Reasons and Solutions for Educational RFEs for EB2 Petitions

  • The education equivalency must match the education requirements on the PERM.
  • The bachelor’s degree equivalency must be a single-source degree.
  • The first problem EB2 candidates run into regularly that triggers and education RFE is that their education does not match the education requirements on the PERM. The PERM requires your education, or your employee or client’s education to be an exact match for their job title. This leads right into the second problem.CIS requires an EB2 candidate’s education to have a single-source bachelor’s degree. This means that you, your employee, or your client’s education sources, or education and work experience cannot be combined to write an equivalency.The 2006 Annual Conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association concluded, “For employment-based immigration visa purposes, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will not equate a three-year diploma plus a post-baccalaureate diploma as being the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree for either EB2 classification.”This means if you, your employee, or your client has a two or three-year degree, the credential evaluator you work with needs to be able to write an evaluation to show equivalence to a US four-year degree without combining work experience to fill in the missing fourth year. While this method of evaluation works for the H1B visa, it will not for EB2.What is the solution? Find a credential evaluation agency that often works with difficult cases, RFEs, and Denials because they understand what triggers them, and they understand how to address them. A knowledgeable evaluator knows the concerns and questions CIS has underlying this kind of RFE and can answer them by citing CIS decisions, memos, precedents, and other evidence that show functional equivalence, and how international trade organizations view the equivalence of your client’s degree. At TheDegreePeople, we are able to write evaluations that get our clients’ three and two-year degrees accepted regularly, but it takes a VERY detailed evaluation in which we hold CIS’s hand, guiding them through the complex terrain of the equivalency.One way credential evaluators address this kind of RFE is by utilizing the progressive work experience conversion formula of three years of work experience in the field to one year of college credit in that field to write a Master’s degree equivalence. A credential evaluator can cite federal case law and CIS precedent decisions to write an evaluation that converts five years of progressive work experience in the field to a US Master’s degree in that field to meet PERM education requirements.We see difficult RFEs and Denials every day at TheDegreePeople. While there are never any guarantees with CIS, we follow their educational trends closely and know what tends to work and what does not. If you, your client, or your employ has received an RFE for an education situation, visit us online at cciFree.com. We will review your case at no cost and advise you on how to best proceed.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, RFEs, Denials, or NOIDs, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723. ]]>

    Case Studies of Difficult EB2 Education RFEs Answered

  • Client holds an Indian Three-Year Bachelor’s degree.
  • 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.
    1. Education does not match PERM requirements.
    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 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. ]]>

    4 Problematic RFEs You and Your Client Need to Know About

  • Specialty Occupation
  • If it is not clear to CIS that your client’s job is a specialty occupation – one that requires a minimum of US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent – this is the kind of RFE that will be issued. To answer this RFE, you must prove that your client’s job requires specialized skills and knowledge to perform that only comes once a certain level of education and experience is met. How can you do this? CIS will typically ask for the ad for your client’s job that indicates the minimum requirements necessary to perform. Include ads for similar jobs in similar industries to show that this level of education is necessary for this kind of job in this kind of industry and that your client’s job was not tailored to meet the visa requirements of your client. If this particular job DOES require an unusual level of expertise due to the nature of the company, provide an expert opinion letter and documentation showing why this job in particular requires an advanced degree.
    1. Degree does not match the job.
    In the past, CIS has approved visas for beneficiaries who had degrees in fields relating to but not precisely matching their job titles. In fact, employers regularly hire workers with degrees in related fields because the specialized knowledge and skill set required for the job are taught in certain related fields. However, CIS trends regarding this have changed in the past six or seven years, and now we are seeing RFEs for petitions that would have been approved before. Another reason your client may have received this kind of RFE is that they hold a generalized degree. CIS requirements state that a generalized degree without experience in the field is insufficient for H1B visa approval. If your client is in this situation, a credential evaluator can take a close look at the course content of your client’s education and convert classroom contact hours in the field into college credit that count towards a specialized major in the correct field. CIS will also accept years of progressive work experience in the field counted towards a major in the field. An authorized credential evaluator can convert three years of progressive work experience – meaning your client took on more and more responsibility as time progressed on the job – to one year of college credit in the field. These conversions will fill in the gap between your client’s education and the H1B job that trigger this kind of RFE.
    1. Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree
    One of the most common triggers for H1B RFEs is a client who has an Indian three-year bachelor’s degree. While these degrees tend to have more classroom contact hours than US four-year bachelor’s degrees, CIS requires the missing fourth year to be accounted for in order to accept the equivalency to a US four-year bachelor’s degree. If your client is in this situation, talk to a credential evaluator about your client’s education and work experience. Three years of progressive work experience can be converted into one year of college credit in the field to account for the missing fourth year. If your client has a three-year bachelor’s degree, NEVER file without this kind of credential evaluation. It will almost ALWAYS receive an RFE without one.
    1. Difficult Degrees
    Some degrees do not have a clear US equivalency, especially degrees that do not call themselves degrees. For example, the Chartered Accountancy Certificate from India can actually be evaluated to be the equivalency of a US bachelor’s degree in accounting because the steps in education require post-secondary equivalencies. At the same time, the US CPA and the Canadian Chartered Accountancy certificate are not bachelor degree equivalencies. This is confusing and needs extreme clarification when presented to CIS. For this reason, degrees such as this one are often met with RFEs. Sometimes, specialty occupations simply do not have degrees that clearly fit their field, such as Computer Systems Analyst. So many RFEs have been issued for H1B candidates with this job because it is unclear what degree fits this very specialized, very specific occupation. If your client has a difficult degree, or a job that does not have a clear field specialization in terms of college majors, talk to a credential evaluator with an in depth understanding of international education. This kind of evaluator will know which degree to reference for the equivalency, and the steps in education required to earn a certificate in the country your client completed their education in.If your client receives an RFE for an education or occupation-related situation, talk to a credential evaluator with extensive experience working with difficult cases, RFEs, NOIDs, and Denials. As evaluators who see these kinds of cases day in and day out, we understand what triggers them, what questions CIS seeks to answer in issuing them, and how to answer them. We do not charge to review your case before you file or if you get an RFE or Denial. As an evaluation agency with international education experts on staff, we have a clear understanding of CIS trends as well as being aware of creative ways to successfully address even the most complicated RFEs. For a review at no charge or obligation please go to www.cciFree.com and fill it out. Send the requested documents. I will personally get back to you within 24 hours.About the Author Sheila 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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