Credential Evaluation

Visa Adjudication Memorandum Support Part II: Expert Opinion Letters for I-140 Issues We Can Help You With

Managerial/Executive Capacity LetterIf you, or your employee or client works as a manager, you will have to provide extra evidence to make sure the job meets certain criteria to work for the selected preference.  The key factor here is to show that the beneficiary MANAGES the daily functions of the business rather than simply PERFORMS them.  Making this distinction clear in a letter by an expert in the field is essential to making sure the beneficiary doesn’t run into trouble with this differentiation in the adjudication process.Extraordinary Ability LetterIf you, or if your employee or client is filing Form I-140 under classification EB-1, you will need to include a letter from an expert in the beneficiary’s field who is not affiliated with the beneficiary themselves.  This letter needs to clearly show CIS that the beneficiary is internationally recognized for their significant contributions to the field of their occupation.National Interest WaiverThis expert opinion letter is needed if your beneficiary is petitioning as key to the national interest.  What is in the “national interest” is not clearly spelled out and is highly subjective, and so an expert opinion letter is needed to prove to CIS that the beneficiary as an individual serves a key function for the national interest, not just that the occupation or field of employment sponsorship is in the national interest.  When CIS determines whether a beneficiary qualifies for a National Interest Waiver, they are looking for scope of benefit – meaning is the benefit of this person’s contribution effects the nation.  They also take into account whether a US citizen with the same qualifications would be able to accomplish what the beneficiary can.  Therefore, the expert opinion letter must address scope and uniqueness regarding your case, or your employee or client’s case.Specialty occupation, credential evaluation, and work experience evaluation issues also arise in I-140 cases.  These expert opinion letters must take the unique educational requirements of the visa into account because the sequence of education and work experience is nuanced, and any bachelor’s degrees or bachelor’s degree equivalency must be a single source.  This can be especially challenging if the degree was earned outside of the US, the degree major doesn’t match the field of employment, or years of college are missing.At TheDegreePeople, we will ALWAYS write you the evaluation or opinion letter you need with regards to your visa, or your employee or client’s visa, the particular occupation for the particular company, and with regards to CIS approval trends and process and policy changes.Whether you are working on an H1B or I-140 case, visit ccifree.com and let us review your case for free to identify any potential issues you may run into with adjudication.  We will get back to you in 48 hours with our full analysis and recommendations. ]]>

Visa Adjudication Memorandum Support Part I: Expert Opinion Letters for Issues We Can Help You With

Specialty Occupation LetterSome reasons you, or your employee or client will need a specialty occupation letter have to do with wage level issues, which has been a common problem for the past two H1B seasons.  If the wage level is low, or if the low wage level indicates that the job is an entry-level position, you will need an expert opinion letter that explains how the job meets H1B specialty occupation requirements and why the wage level was selected.  Another issues that would require a specialty occupation letter to explain is the issue of what education level is typically required as a minimum to perform the job.  Could someone else with less education perform the same job?  For H1B visa approval the answer MUST be a resounding no, and this specialty occupation letter must explain why.Specialized Knowledge LetterTo meet H1B requirements, it must be clearly shown that the beneficiary holds the specialized knowledge required to work the specialty occupation position.  If the beneficiary holds a generalized degree, incomplete college, or a degree in a different field than the position, you will need a specialized knowledge letter to show that the job requires the employee to have specialized knowledge, and that the employee has the specialized knowledge necessary.  This means specialized knowledge of the employer’s services, products, equipment, processes and procedures.Credential EvaluationsIf you, or if your employee or client has a degree from outside of the United States, a degree in a field that does not exactly match the H1B job, or incomplete or no college at all, you will need to include a credential evaluation to show that your education, or your employee or client’s education – inside and outside of the classroom – is the equivalent US academic value of what is required to meet H1B education standards.  To qualify for H1B status, the beneficiary must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher in the field of the specialty occupation.  If you, or your employee or client holds ANYTHING BUT a US bachelor’s degree (or higher if required by the specialty occupation) in the exact field of the specialty occupation, you will need to include a credential evaluation letter to clearly show CIS that H1B educational requirements are met.Work Experience EvaluationsIf the beneficiary has incomplete college, no college, or needs extra credits to meet US academic value requirements from an overseas degree, or if the degree is in a generalized or mismatched specialization, you will need to include a work experience evaluation.  Three years of progressive work experience in the field of the specialty occupation can be evaluated to be the equivalent of one year of college credit in that field.  Progressive work experience means that the nature of the work became increasingly complex with the beneficiary taking on more responsibility as the course of the employment went on, indicating that education took place on the job.If your case, or if your employee or client’s case includes one or more of these triggering situations, or if you are unsure of whether issues are likely to arise, visit ccifree.com/ for a free review of your case.  We will identify issues likely to arise in the adjudication process and recommendations on how to prevent them in the initial petition.Watch out for Part II next week where we will discuss expert opinion letters needed for Education-Based Green Card petitions. ]]>

H1B Changes in Adjudication Means Getting the Initial Filing Correct

If you, or if your client or employee is planning to file for H1-B status for FY2020, the process has changed.  This coming season, you will still file the first week of April as always.  The good news is no paperwork must be submitted until AFTER your employee or client is selected in the H-1B lottery.The troubling news is that CIS will now be denying petitions outright without issuing RFEs. Denials are much more difficult to overturn than RFEs.  This change has lawyers talking about submitting the specialty occupation expert opinion letter right away with the rest of the paperwork to avoid an RFE that won’t come anymore.While every year at TheDegreePeople we urge H1-B hopefuls and their teams that the best answer to an RFE is to avoid it in the first place.  This coming season it’s more important than ever to identify where your employee or client’s case is likely to run into trouble and include any additional evidence and documentation in the initial petition.The past two years, the rate of specialty occupation RFEs has made a sharp rise.  If you hold, or if your employee or client holds a job that does not require a US Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent or higher in all cases as an industry standard, you need to include an expert opinion letter that clearly shows why the job in question meets H1-B standards for what qualifies as a specialty occupation.  Don’t take any chances this year.  If you are selected, or if your employee or client is selected in the H-1B lottery, you need to include any credential evaluations, supporting evidence, and expert opinion letters needed in the first paperwork filing because you will not get a second chance anymore.  At TheDegreePeople we have experts on hand 24/7 to write the letter you need, or your employee or client needs to get that H1-B petition approved.  We work with difficult RFEs every year and we know what tends to trigger an RFE and how to prevent them.  Don’t file without a specialty occupation letter.  Visit ccifree.com/ for a free consultation on your case, or your employee or client’s case.  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less. ]]>

Round 2: What to do if the 2nd RFE Arrives After Resolving the First RFE

If the petition process and first round of H1B RFEs aren’t stressful enough here comes round two of RFEs.  When CIS finds something wrong with a petition, it opens the floodgates to finding more details out of place that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.  The best way to prevent round two of RFEs is to prevent round one by identifying the common RFE triggers inherent to the situation in your case and plan accordingly, but this doesn’t always work.If you or your employee or client is facing down RFE round two, don’t panic.  The petition has not been denied, CIS just needs more information to make a decision.The trick with any RFE is not to get caught up in the wording or individual demands, but rather to go back to the basics and see where evidence and analysis is lacking.  To qualify for H1B status, the job must be a specialty occupation, which means as an industry standard or a standard hiring practice a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialization is required for entry into the occupation.  The beneficiary must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its acceptable equivalency in the exact field of the specialty occupation.  The employer must be economically viable and pay the beneficiary the prevailing wages and benefits for the specialty occupation, and there must be an employer-employee relationship in which the employer can hire, fire, promote, supervise and otherwise control the work the beneficiary does.Read the RFE and identify which of these requirements CIS is having trouble adjudicating.  Is it the job?  Is it the education?  Is it the working conditions?  At TheDegreePeople we work with difficult RFEs every year and we know how to identify where cases are lacking in evidence and analysis, and which common RFE traps beneficiaries fall into as CIS approval trends change from year to year.  Let us review your case for free before you answer that second round of RFEs.  Visit ccifree.com and we will get back to you in 48 hours or less.]]>

I-140 Problems: Common RFE Triggers and their Solutions

In light of the new USCIS policy memorandum, adjudicators now have the discretion to deny a petition without first issuing and RFE or NOID for all visas, and this includes visas that require a Form I-140.While the new memorandum can feel like a reason to be nervous because we don’t know how this law on the books will play out in practice, it actually changes very little in how beneficiaries and their teams should approach the process.  That means looking at common places where applicants run into problems and then taking steps to prevent running into them.If you or your employee or client’s education or job don’t clearly meet the educational standards of the classification chosen in Part 2 of Form I-140, you need to make sure to provide the evidence and documentation you need to fill in the gaps between the requirements and you or your employee or client’s situation.  Incomplete college, education attained outside of the United States, or no formal education are all situations that require a detailed credential evaluation that takes the specific educational requirements of the visa and the classification into consideration.  If an evaluation agency does not ask about the job or the visa before you order, look elsewhere.  Before you file, make sure all answers on the PERM and on Form I-140 are consistent.  Inconsistencies will trigger an RFE, even if it is just a spelling error.  If there are changes needed, make sure to check yes for Part 4 Item 7 on the Form I-140.  Place a bright sheet of paper directly beneath Form I-140 that states this is an amended petition and the PERM has already been submitted and include the receipt number for the PERM.  This way, inconsistencies will be accompanied with a clear explanation.  CIS may inquire anyway – there are never any guarantees with CIS – but this will be much less likely and if you do receive an RFE you will be ready.At TheDegreePeople we work with I-140 RFEs every year and understand CIS approval trends and what triggers RFEs.  This year, you may not get a chance to fortify your case with an RFE.  Before you file, let us review your case and identify where in the petition an RFE is likely to be triggered so you can accommodate accordingly.  For a free review of your case visit ccifree.com/.  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less. ]]>

Effective Now: Memorandum Lets Adjudicators Deny Petitions without NOID or RFE

th, 2018.  This memorandum allows adjudicators to deny incomplete applications, requests, and petitions without first issuing an NOID and RFE.Before the memorandum, adjudicators were required to issue an RFE or NOID instead of outright Denials unless there was absolutely no possibility that the case would be approved.  Now, adjudicators have broader discretion to flat out deny petitions.CIS says that the purpose of this memorandum is to deter “placeholder” petitions, which are incomplete petitions with vague answers that are later clarified in RFE responses.  Adjudicators can now deny these cases flat out.  Some examples include petitions submitted without supporting evidence or severely lacking in supporting evidence, petitions submitted with questions left unanswered, and petitions that require additional official documents or evidence but are submitted without them.While this amendment sounds alarming, in theory it really doesn’t change much for petitioners.  From what we can tell at TheDegreePeople, reports of issue have been exaggerated.  It has always been generally advised for petitioners of all visas to submit complete petitions, on time, with all supporting evidence and documentation included.  In this sense, nothing has actually changed when it comes to optimizing your chances of visa approval.However, laws on the books are different from laws in action.  To see the full scope of how this new memorandum will change visa approval, we will have to wait and see how it all plays out with USCIS.  In the meantime, it’s now more important than ever that you get the petition right the first time.  That means identifying where CIS is likely to have questions about your case and providing any additional evidence they will need before they have to ask for it.At TheDegreePeople, we have been working with RFEs for years and follow CIS approval trends.  The best way to answer an RFE now, as it has always been, is to prevent it in the first place.  Visit TheDegreePeople.com to chat with us about your case.Have you encountered issues with this new memorandum?  We want to hear about it!  Comment here to post your opinions and experiences regarding this matter.   ]]>

Prevailing Wage: How to Address the H1B Wage Level Issue RFE

To meet H1B requirements, the employer must pay the H1B employee the prevailing wage for the position in that industry for companies of that size in that geographical location. Last year, we saw jobs with Level 1 Wages targeted both questioning the wage level and whether the job meets H1B specialization requirements.

But what if the prevailing wage level for the specialty occupation in question is level one?

First, regardless of the job in question, you have to be very familiar with the position’s entry in the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. If the job is set at wage level one, it is likely CIS will assume it’s an entry level position. Some entry level positions do not require the advanced degree that H1B status demands – a US bachelors degree or higher or its equivalent.

If the entry level position requires anything lower than a US bachelor’s degree as a minimum qualification – even if the job itself isn’t entry-level – you will run into trouble.

To address this wage level issue, you will need to include a detailed breakdown of the position’s duties and responsibilities. Include the ad for the job and past hiring practices that clearly show the minimum requirement of a US bachelors degree for entry into the position. You should also include a detailed analysis of all of the factors that went into determining the wage level for the job and tie it all together with an expert opinion letter to fortify your case.

This is just one of many wage level issue RFEs coming in this year. CIS may take issue with the job at any wage level. The important thing to remember about wage level RFEs is that they are inextricably linked with specialty occupation issues, so it’s best to address both issues with the same response. In your expert opinion letter, both topics should be covered.

To meet H1B requirements for specialty occupation, the job must require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent for entry into the position. If this is a requirement for the specific job in question but not as an industry standard as indicated in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, you will need to provide a detailed job description that clearly shows the duties and responsibilities of the job require a specialized knowledge base and skill set. You will also need to document past hiring practices to show this position always requires an advanced degree for this particular business. If the Occupational Outlook Handbook states that sometimes employers will hire for this position with lower minimum educational requirements, provide ads for the same position in similar companies in the industry to show that the lower minimum educational requirement is the exception, not the rule. Regardless of your situation, the expert opinion letter must be included for analysis and fortification of your case.

At TheDegreePeople.com we have experts on hand 24/7 in all industries and areas of expertise to write the opinion letter you need, or your employee or client needs to get that H1B visa approved. For a free consultation visit ccifree.com/?CodeLWA/. We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.

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I-140 Prevention and Solutions

Position indicated on Form I-140 fit the category indicated in Part 2.Part 2 is where you must indicate the visa classification. This is based on what credentials are required as minimum requirements for entry into the position. You must choose a classification, and you must ONLY choose one. Applicants selecting the EB2 category tend to run into the most trouble here. The EB2 category requires the position and the beneficiary to hold a minimum of a US Master’s degree in the field, or a Bachelor’s degree in the field FOLLOWED BY five years of progressive work experience, or its equivalent. Since EB2 processing time is much faster than the EB3 classification, beneficiaries and their sponsors have incentive to try to make the position – and the candidate – fit into the wrong category. Oftentimes, the positiondoes fit into the EB2 classification, but sufficient evidence and expert analysis is lacking, and this is what you need to provide in your RFE response.Answers between the PERM and Form I-140 are inconsistent.Inconsistent answers between forms are a surefire way to trigger an RFE. Make sure answers are consistent in their content and in their spelling between forms. If there are amendments, make sure to check yes for Part 4, Item 7 accompanied by an attached explanation of any changes made on a bright colored sheet placed directly beneath Form I-140. Write that the PERM has already been submitted and that this is an amended petition. Include the receipt number for the PERM. This way, inconsistencies between the PERM and I-140 will be clearly explained to CIS and they will not have to ask inquire about it. Sometimes they will anyway, but you will have already strengthened your case with the amendment and this will help you greatly in an RFE arrives.The petition did not include a credential evaluation or included the WRONG credential evaluation.If the beneficiary’s degree or degrees were earned outside of the United States, a credential evaluation will be needed to clearly show the educational value of the degree in question by US educational standards. If the degree does not match the field of employ, or if there is incomplete college – or no college, but a lot of work experience in the field – a credential evaluation will be needed to close any gaps between the education the beneficiary has, and the education the beneficiary needs to meet the educational requirements of the category indicated in Part 2 of Form I-140. If a credential evaluation is not included and the beneficiary has anything but a straightforward degree earned in the US in the exact field of the job in question, it will likely trigger an RFE. Choosing the right credential evaluator is essential because educational requirements when it comes to equivalencies differ between visas. If the evaluator doesn’t ask about your, or your employee or client’s job or visa, look elsewhere. The agency should not rely solely on online equivalency databases, but rather have their own updated reference library that includes CIS approval precedents, federal caselaw, and international trade agreements regarding employment and education portability.At TheDegreePeople, we have experts in every field on hand to write expert opinion letters to strengthen your case, or your employee or client’s case, and evaluators with extensive experience in international education, college and graduate program admissions, and working with Form I-140 cases and their RFEs.For a free review of your case, visit ccifree.com/. We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.]]>

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