It’s H1B RFE season and there’s a one in four chance that you or your employee or client received one. RFEs have become increasingly common over the past several years, and CIS approval trends regarding H1B education have changed. RFEs have become not only more common, but also more complex and confusing. For example, the Nightmare RFE, which is virtually impossible to answer, is appearing more and more in the mailboxes of H1B applicants.
At TheDegreePeople, we specialize in helping our clients overturn their RFEs and get their H1B visas approved. RFEs are tricky business, so here are five tips that we have seen bring our clients success year after year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Author
Sheila 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.
This article was written by Rebecca Little