We’re deep in RFE season, which means at least one in four of every H-1B beneficiary selected in the lottery has likely received one. Education RFEs are common for H-1B beneficiaries because this particular visa relies heavily on the education of each candidate in terms of requirements. In fact, your eligibility, or your employee or client’s eligibility is primarily determined by the education.
So does the beneficiary meet H-1B education requirements?
CIS requires that an H-1B beneficiary have a specialty occupation that requires a US bachelor’s degree or higher, or its foreign equivalent. You, or your employee or client must have the proper degree for this job, and in recent years CIS has been taking a step further and requiring beneficiaries to hold a degree in the exact field of the job.
To meet these requirements, the following three criteria must be met:
To show that you, or your employee or client has secured a position in a specialty occupation, you must provide documentation that this job – as well as similar jobs for similar companies in the industry – requires an advanced degree to perform. You can do this by submitting a copy of the ad for the job that spells out its minimum requirements, as well as ads for similar job as discussed earlier. If this particular job requires a more specialized skill set than is typical for this position, include an expert opinion letter stating why this is so.
Once you have established that your job, or your employee or client’s job is a specialty occupation, you need to find out whether they have the correct degree. If your job, or your employee or client’s job requires a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree, you, or your employee or client must hold a US bachelor’s degree. Since many H-1B beneficiaries earned their degrees outside of the United States, you will need to submit a credential evaluation along with the transcripts. Some countries have three-year bachelor’s degree structures where academic content is condensed. Some countries have degrees that do not call themselves degrees but are evaluated to be the equivalent of post-secondary education in the United States. One such example is the Indian Chartered Accountancy certificate, which is the functional equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in accounting. Some beneficiaries who went to school in the United States never completed a degree but have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform specialized job duties. All of these situations require a careful evaluation that takes detailed account of your coursework, or your employee or client’s coursework, as well as work experience in the field. Missing years – whether they be from incomplete education or condensed education from abroad – can be accounted for by converting years of progressive work experience into years of college credit using a three years of work to one year of college credit ratio.
Second, your degree, or your employee or client’s degree must be a match for the field of employ. While employers will hire candidates who hold degrees in related fields because there is enough skill and knowledge overlap, particularly if they have worked in the exact field they have been hired to, CIS will not approve their visas. This is a recent CIS trend, one that does not look like it will go away any time soon. If you, or your employee or client has the right degree in the wrong field – or in a generalized field – talk to a credential evaluator. An evaluation that takes a close look at the course content of your, your employee or your client’s education and their work experience is needed to write the equivalencies that convert years of work experience in the field into college credit in that specialization, and also count course credits earned in that field towards that specialization as well.
Sometimes, your education, or your employee or client’s education will not meet the requirements of an H-1B visa. This is best to find out BEFORE you file. While the H-1B visa has very strong benefits, if it is the wrong visa it is not worth taking the time and money to petition for it. There may be another work visa that better suits the particular job and education.
However, if you or your employee or client received an RFE regarding the job or education, sit down with a credential evaluator and go over your, or your employee or client’s education and work history. Find out if the gaps in your degree or your employee or client’s degree can be filled in with course content and work experience.
About the Author
Sheila 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.
This article was written by Rebecca Little