Don’t Wait for that Education RFE

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Up until just recently, candidates filed a foreign credential evaluation along with their initial H1B petition every time. That was until the lottery. With only 65,000 annual H1B Visas available and STEM industries actively seeking foreign employees for high-level positions, CIS now receives many times more petitions than there are Visas available. To deal with this, CIS now uses a lottery system to determine which petitions to evaluate for approval. Because so many petitions that are filed each year do not get accepted by the lottery, firms and attorneys are now opting to wait and see if their clients make it that far before sending in a foreign credential evaluation.

While this saves time and money in the short term, the way that firms and attorneys can tell that their client was accepted is if they receive an RFE. In the past, this has worked because many H1B filings were approved without an evaluation. Just in the past two years, however, CIS trends have changed to where petitions without evaluations are not being accepted.

Yes, you can still choose to wait for the RFE to send in a credential evaluation, but it comes along with some approval-threatening risks. Due to the massive influx of H1B petitions, CIS is looking for any excuse they can to make their job of selection as easy as possible. They are looking for red flags, and a petition without an evaluation is a big red flag. Filing a petition without an evaluation signals CIS to pick over your petition with a fine-toothed comb. Suddenly, issues are popping up in filings that would have been accepted if no one had held a magnifying glass to it. This year we have seen record numbers of the infamous NIGHTMARE RFE. See my article about the NIGHTMARE RFE recently published by Immigration Daily at

An RFE – as I have been told by countless attorneys – is also a big red flag. You can respond to an RFE, but it is still a red flag that the initial petition was filed improperly and without sufficient evidence. These red flags are shortcuts CIS uses to simplify the huge amount of work to be done regarding Visas every year.

There are better ways to make CIS’s job easier. Don’t wait for an RFE to submit a foreign credential evaluation. Include all of the necessary evidence to prove your client or employee’s eligibility for their job and their Visa the first time, without CIS having to ask you for it. Even though this does not increase your chances in the lottery, it certainly does wonders for chances of approval after the lottery.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFEs, Denials, or NOIDs, please go to or call 800.771.4723. Mention that you saw this in the ILW article and get 72 hour rush service at no charge.


This article was written by Rebecca Little