How You Prepare for a Successful H1B Season with a Three-Year Degree

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It’s time to start preparing to file H1B petitions for fiscal year 2018. We predict that there will be an H1B lottery again this year because for the past several years the number of petitions that flowed in the first week of April far surpassed the annual cap. If you or your employee or client plans to file for H1B visa status for fiscal year 2018, you need to make sure the petition is prepared, complete, and filed on April First. If you or your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree, there are extra steps to preparing a petition that CIS will approve.

International education experts agree that duration is not always an accurate reflection of content. Many three-year bachelor’s degree programs have the same – if not greater – number of classroom contact hours as a US four-year bachelor’s degree program. However, CIS requires that missing fourth year to be accounted for, and that’s what matters when it comes to getting an H1B visa approved. If you or your employee or client has a three-year bachelor’s degree and files without accounting for the missing fourth year of education, the best you can expect is to receive an RFE.

Preventing an RFE is always easier than answering one. With so many petitions flowing in, CIS is looking for shortcuts to weed out petitions, and an RFE is a big red flag on the petition. If you or your employee or client receives an RFE for a three-year bachelor’s degree, you can expect that’s not the only thing CIS will inquire about in the RFE. The glaring omission of the missing fourth year triggers a close scrutiny of the petition that can reveal minor errors that would have flown under the radar that you will now have to address alongside the three-year degree.

This can be prevented easily, and here’s how:

While CIS does not accept that a three-year bachelor’s degree is the equivalent of a US four-year bachelors degree, this can be fixed by adding work experience.

CIS accepts a work experience conversion of three years of progressive work experience in the field of employ to one year of college credit in that specialization. Progressive work experience means that you or your employee or client took on more responsibility and complexity in the work as time went on, which serves as evidence that the candidate learned skills and knowledge specialized to the field through this work experience. This conversion can only be done by professors who are authorized to issue college credit for work experience.

Before you file, take your case, or your employee or client’s case to a credential evaluation agency with experience working with H1B visas, H1B RFEs, and three-year degrees that works with professors with the authority to make the work experience conversion you need. The evaluator can review the case to make sure the candidate has the education and work experience necessary to make this conversion. Do NOT make the mistake of filing an H1B petition without making absolutely sure that it meets CIS approval criteria and trends.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to or call 800.771.4723.



This article was written by Rebecca Little