Federal Requirements for a Foreign Credential Evaluator

News Source: WiredPRNews.com

When using a foreign credential evaluation agency, look beyond the hype and the memberships. Be wary of any agency that claims to be “accredited” because agencies have no accreditation.
    The U.S. Network for Education Information, part of the Department of Education, states at
    “The U.S. government does not recommend or endorse any individual credential evaluation service or group of services, and does not conduct evaluations or make recognition decisions.”
    Consequently, government agencies and programs that accept federal funds cannot legitimately play one evaluator off against another by stating preferences for particular evaluators or their modes of operation, nor is it legitimate to rely on a perception of a majority opinion on the basis of a highly selective sample of the credential evaluation profession. Rather, the responsibility of government agencies is to investigate the factual basis of an evaluation on its own merits.
    In AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 95111390 (posted Nov. 13, 1995), Associate Commissioner Louis D. Crocetti, Jr., directed a briefing to all service center directors, the Director, Service Center Operations, and the Administrative Appeals Office. This states as follows:
    “This office has also received a number of letters relating to cases which were returned to the petitioner with questions concerning the validity of a credentials evaluation performed by a credentials evaluation service. Credentials evaluations submitted with an H-1B petition by a reputable credentials evaluation service should be accepted without question unless containing obvious errors. The ability of the credentials evaluator to perform the evaluation should not be challenged if the evaluation was performed by a professional credentials evaluation service. If the bona fides of a particular credentials evaluator are questioned, HQADN should be contacted for appropriate action.
    Service officers are reminded that the public is the Service’s external customer. The Service’s requests for additional information, if necessary, must be based on articulate facts. Service officers are reminded to use discretion in the adjudication of H-1B petitions. Failure to do so could result in needless, expensive litigation.”
    Some recent adjudications from USCIS depart significantly from these principles. Specifically, they seek to cast doubt upon the credentials held by some evaluators and consultants, and treats the statements made by those staff members with regard to the credentials held as suspicious. This approach is not merely unwarranted and factually baseless, but that it is personally abusive and may well be defamatory.
    At responsible credential evaluation agencies, evaluators hold credentials which are verified by their agency and, in the case of any foreign credentials, that are determined to be issued by institutions that possess the foreign equivalent of United States accreditation. It is the business of an evaluation agency to undertake research into the legal and accreditation systems that underpin the granting of academic degrees in foreign countries, and most evaluation agencies have lengthy experience in these matters. Copies of evaluator credentials are customarily available to attorneys on individual request along with an explanation of the legal and accreditation framework in which they were issued.
    The Service has a mandate to investigate the basis of an immigration petition. It has none for the investigation of the credentials of foreign credential evaluators. It is neither qualified nor competent to undertake such a role, nor is there any justification for outsourcing that role to a selected competitor foreign credential evaluation agency.
    While the substance of a petition is a subject for legitimate debate, the credentials of evaluators are not, particularly where the adjudicator seeks by innuendo or the misleading presentation of facts to discredit the evaluator. It is therefore timely to repeat the final sentence of the citation above, “Service officers are reminded to use discretion in the adjudication of H-1B petitions. Failure to do so could result in needless, expensive litigation.”
    According to Sheila Danzig, Executive Director of CCI,www.TheDegreePeople.com and www.EvaluationCredentials.com, “Be sure you contact any foreign credential evaluation agency before you order. If they don’t make you feel comfortable and answer your questions then, you can be sure that they won’t be very helpful afterwards. If this is for immigration purposes be certain that the agency fully understands the Visa requirements or your evaluation may end up worthless.”

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