It’s Easier to Prevent an RFE than to Overturn One

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The new year is right around the corner, which means the deadline for Visa petitions for the 2017 fiscal year is closer than you think. While a plan has been proposed to increase the number of the much sought-after H1B Visa from 65,000 to 110,000 annual slots, no changes have been confirmed as of yet for 2017. With 233,000 petitions in the lottery for 2016 after less than a week of USCIS accepting petitions, those extra Visas wouldn’t change much in the way of what applicants must do this year anyway. Regardless of what happens with the annual cap, make sure CIS gets everything they need to easily approve your Visa on April 1st, 2016. That means CIS does not have to issue an RFE to get the information they need out of you to make an informed decision. Preventing an RFE is much easier than answering one.

An RFE is a tool CIS uses to make the right decision about your petition. When they cannot make a decision based on the evidence you provided, they request more. While this is not the end of the world, and can actually be utilized as an opportunity to strengthen your case, an RFE is a red flag. A red flag is another tool CIS uses to streamline the massive amount of work they have to do to cut 233,000 petitions into 65,000 Visas. If you receive an RFE, that means a glaring omission of evidence has drawn CIS’s close attention to your petition, and it will now be picked apart. Minor errors that would have otherwise gone unnoticed will come to light.

At the same time, answering an RFE is not necessarily a straight-forward process. To successfully answer an RFE, you need to sit down with your lawyer, your employer, and your evaluator to see exactly what is being asked of you and how to go about answering it. Some RFE’s are realistically impossible to answer. The “Nightmare” RFE is one of these, and we’ve been seeing more of them every year. While these can be answered, it requires strategy that only an evaluation agency with international education and federal case law experts on hand to work on your case. At CCI, we have been able to get around 95% of all of the Nightmare RFE’s we work on overturned, but these RFE’s cause a lot of unnecessary stress to H1B candidates and can be easily avoided.

How can you avoid an RFE in the first place?

  1. Triple-check your answers on all of your documents and forms for consistency. Inconsistent answers – even if they are small mistakes – can trigger an RFE.
  1. Prove that your H1B job is a specialty occupation requiring a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalence or higher. You can do this by showing the ad for your job, documentation that similar jobs for similar companies require a bachelor’s degree or higher, and with an expert letter.
  1. Clearly show that your degree is a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent. If your degree is from outside of the US, you will need to have your education evaluated by an authorized credential evaluation agency. If you have a three-year degree, you will need to find an agency with the authority and expertise to convert classroom contact hours and years of work experience into college credit hours to account for the missing fourth year.
  1. Your degree must be specialized. This means if you have a liberal arts degree, or a generalized degree, CIS will not accept this as proof that you actually possess the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to be qualified for your H1B job. If you have a generalized degree, you need to talk to a credential evaluation agency that will take a close look at your course content and your work experience, and make the proper conversions to college credit hours to show equivalence to a specialized degree.
  1. Your degree must EXACTLY fit your job offer. This means that even though your employer hired you because your degree in a related field and your experience working in the field was enough to prove to them you have the specialized skills and experience necessary to be successful in your new job, CIS needs more. If your degree is not an EXACT fit for your job, you need a credential evaluation from an evaluator who can take a close look at the course content of your degree and make the necessary conversions, and who can also convert your years of work experience in the field into college credit to show equivalency to the exact degree CIS requires you to have.

Don’t wait for the opportunity to overturn an RFE. Remember, an RFE is a big red flag waving high over your petition. The best way to address an RFE is to avoid it. Don’t give CIS an excuse to nit pick your petition. Tell them everything they need to know to make an informed decision on your petition the first time.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI 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. 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

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