Credential Evaluation

How to Find the Right Credential Evaluator for an H-1B RFE

  • Do they offer a free review of the case?
  • An evaluator cannot know what services must be provided – or whether or not your education, or your employee or client’s education and work experience will even work for the H-1B visa at all – without reviewing your employment history, or your employee or client’s employment history and educational documents. You received an education RFE. Before you answer it, make sure you CAN answer it successfully with what you, or your employee or client has to work with, and what needs to be done to write the equivalency that will accurately meet H-1B education standards. If an agency or evaluator asks for payment before looking into what needs to be done, look elsewhere.
    1. Are they easy to work with?
    The evaluator who you want to work with is one who wants to work with you. Answering an RFE means you have to collect a lot of documentation – some not so easy to secure – in a short amount of time. Don’t waste your time working with an evaluator who doesn’t answer your calls, your text, your emails, or your questions to your satisfaction. Being easy to work with also means they are affordable and offer rush delivery options. When it comes to credential evaluation agencies, you don’t “get what you pay for.” The best ones tend to be inexpensive.
    1. Did they ask about the visa?
    A common cause of an education RFE is that the evaluator wrote the right evaluation for the wrong visa. Many evaluation agencies will write a standard evaluation of your credentials, or your employee or client’s credentials without regard for the particular, unique educational requirements for the H-1B visa. Educational requirements, as well as approval trends and standards surrounding what education and work experience can be combined to write an equivalency vary from visa to visa. For example, an H-1B beneficiary may combine work experience and college credit to write an acceptable equivalency to a US bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, an EB2 beneficiary who tries to do the same thing will fail because for that particular visa the bachelor’s degree must be a single source. The evaluation must lend itself to the visa in question to be successful.
    1. Did they ask about the job offer?
    Just like the particular visa requirements, the evaluation must also lend itself to the client’s job offer. In the past, CIS has accepted petitions in which the beneficiary holds a degree in a field related to the job offer. This is not the case anymore. Now CIS requires beneficiaries to have a degree in their exact field of employ. This is because H-1B visas are for beneficiaries working specialized occupations, with knowledge and skills specialized to their field. While an employer will look at a candidate’s education and work experience and see that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to work their job, if the degree is not in the field, CIS will require more evidence. If your credential evaluator doesn’t ask about your job, or your employee or client’s job, he or she does not understand this and you need to look elsewhere. If your degree, or your employee or client’s degree is in a mismatched field, a credential evaluator with the authority to convert progressive work experience in the field into college credit in that specialization is exactly who you need to be working with.
    1. Do the often work with RFEs, Denials, and NOIDs?
    The credential evaluator you want is one who does not shy away from difficult cases. You, or your employee or client received an RFE, so you want to work with an evaluation agency with extensive experience answering them. It’s important to keep in mind that the roadmap to answering the RFE is NOT IN THE RFE ITSELF. Especially with RFEs like the Nightmare – which is virtually impossible to answer if you follow its instructions – guidance from those who know the terrain and can navigate it successfully is essential to success. Evaluators that work with these kinds of cases know what CIS is looking for in the documentation they request, know what triggers and RFE, and what works and what does not in answering it. These evaluators follow CIS approval trends, which change from year to year.About the Author Sheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of 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.  ]]>

    Fall into an H-1B Education Trap? Fix that RFE!

    The degree came from a college or university that is not government accredited.Many institutions that provide a rigorous, quality education that fully prepare you or your employee or client for the specialty occupation he or she has been hired for are not actually government accredited. Two common examples of this situation are NIIT and Aptech. CIS will not approve unaccredited education.The “college” degree is actually a high school diploma.Yes, this happens. Attorneys: don’t listen to your clients when they insist that their high school diploma is a college degree. This tends to be an honest mistake that gets taken too far. Mistranslations, misunderstandings, and different educational systems from one country to the next cause a lot of confusion in this area. Different degrees are often called by the same name, which becomes a problem when transcripts and credentials are translated but not evaluated for academic equivalence. The H-1B visa requires a US bachelor’s degree or higher. A high school diploma does NOT meet these requirements.If your degree, or your employee or client has a degree from an unaccredited college or university, or no bachelor’s degree equivalence at all, talk to a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience into college credit. You may be able to salvage your case.The degree was not evaluated correctly.If your degree, or your employee or client’s degree is from a different country with a different language, the transcripts must be translated into English and evaluated for US academic equivalence. Sometimes, documents do not get translated correctly, or they are only translated but never evaluated. Sometimes, they are evaluated, but incorrectly. Sometimes they are evaluated correctly, but not for the H-1B visa. This H-1B trap is becoming increasingly common because some translation agencies now offer a sort of one-stop-shop for translation and evaluation. Just like document translation, evaluation is a highly specialized field that requires extensive knowledge of international education, international trade agreements, CIS precedent decisions, federal case law, and various visa requirements. This is because some visas allow education and experience from different sources to be combined to show equivalence while others do not accept that combination but require others. This is also because some degrees exist in one country but not in another, and others don’t have a direct English translation. Some degrees don’t call themselves degrees but are actually the equivalent of post-secondary education. Simply translating documents from one language to another means understanding of the academic content is lost. A credential evaluator can identify where this occurs and fix it. Each evaluation must be conducted on a case-by-case basis.Before you file your case, or your employee or client’s case, be aware that it may not be as straightforward as you think. Educational systems vary from country to country, and your degree or your employee or client’s degree may not be what you think it is in terms of US academic value.   At the same time, the right degree may be in the wrong field, or difficult to find a US equivalent degree for. Talk to a credential evaluator with experience working with H-1B visas and their RFEs. The evaluator you want understands the specific requirements of H-1B visas as well as CIS trends regarding these much sought-after visas.About the Author Sheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of 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.]]>

    4 Common H-1B RFEs You Need to Know About

  • Degree and Job Don’t Match
  • Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree
  • Job is Not Clearly a Specialty Occupation
  • Degree Has a Difficult Equivalency
  • The H-1B visa is for foreign nationals coming to work in the United States with a bachelor’s degree or higher to work in a specialty occupation. No doubt, this is why we are seeing so many RFEs that deal precisely with these factors. Let’s take a closer look.Education-Related RFEsWhat is the foreign equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree or higher? This has proven a difficult question because educational systems differ greatly across borders. The two most common RFEs we have seen resulting from this have to do with degrees that don’t call themselves degrees or do not have a direct equivalent specialization, and Indian three-year bachelor’s degrees. If you or your employee or client has an Indian three-year bachelor’s degree, do NOT submit a petition without a credential evaluation or you will get an RFE regarding this. Although the Indian three-year degree tends to have more classroom contact hours than a US four-year degree, CIS requires you or your employee or client account for the missing fourth year to have an acceptable equivalency for the H-1B visa. Three years of progressive work experience can be converted into one year of college credit to account for this year. Talk to a credential evaluation agency with the authority to do this, and the knowledge of international education to provide the evidence to fortify this equivalency.The Indian three-year bachelor’s degree is not the only difficult degree. Degrees without a clear US equivalency are often met with RFEs. One example of this is the Chartered Accountancy Certificate from India. This is a degree that does not call itself a degree, and due to the educational steps required to attain their certificate, it is the functional equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in accounting. However, the US CPA and the Canadian Chartered Accountancy certificate are not functional equivalents to a US bachelor’s degree. You can see how this can get very confusing very quickly without a thorough evaluation that guides CIS through the functional steps of you or your employee or client’s degree.Another education-related problem that triggers an RFE is when a specialty occupation does not have a major that fits it. In fact, the job that receives the most RFEs is Computer Systems Analyst. This is a very specific occupation that requires a very specific specialization – one that there are very few bachelor’s degrees in to draw an equivalency from. A credential evaluation that clearly spells out a functional equivalence – meaning what graduate programs, licenses or jobs having a particular degree or certification functions as a prerequisite for – of you or your employee or client’s degree is necessary for difficult degrees and difficult jobs. If you or your employee or client has a difficult degree, or a job that does not have a clear field specialization in terms of college majors, talk to a credential evaluator with an in depth understanding of international education. This kind of evaluator will know which degree to reference for the equivalency, and the steps in education required to earn a certificate in the country you or your employee or client completed their education in.Job-Related RFEsThe two common job-related RFEs we see are the degree not matching the job, and CIS not having enough evidence to determine whether or not the job is a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation means that to perform the duties of the job at hand, the employee must possess specialized skills and knowledge unique to the position. This typically means that the position requires a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its foreign equivalent. If CIS issues an RFE seeking insight into whether or not your or your employee or client’s job is a specialty occupation, you can provide the ad for the job showing the minimum requirements necessary to perform its duties. Include ads for similar jobs in similar companies in the industry to show that these are typical requirements for such positions. If this job does require a level of expertise unusual to what the same job in this industry typically requires, include an expert opinion letter about why this particular position for this particular country, or in the particular geographic location is unique.If the RFE arrived because your job or your employee or client’s job was not an exact match for the degree, this is also the result of the job being a specialty occupation. While most employers will hire employees with degrees in fields related to their job, in the past seven or so years CIS has made an approval trend shift and stopped approving these visas. CIS now requires the degree to be an exact match to the job to ensure that the employee has learned the specialized skills and knowledge required for their H-1B job. However, employers understand that skills and expertise can be learned through related degrees, classes taken in the field even if that was not the central major of the degree, and through hands-on work experience. This can be translated in CIS approval standards through a credential evaluation in which the evaluator takes into account the course content of your degree or your employee or client’s degree as well as years of progressive work experience in the field. Courses in the specialization of your job or your employee or client’s job can be evaluated to count towards a degree equivalency in that field, as well as progressive work experience. Three years of work experience in which you or your employee or client took on more skilled work and responsibilities as the job progressed can be converted into the equivalency of one year of college credit in that field. If you receive this RFE, consult with a credential evaluator about your education or your employee or client’s education and work experience to see what can be done.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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.  ]]>

    Who is at Fault for Your RFE?

    Sometimes No One is to BlameIn many cases, this is exactly the situation. CIS visa approval trends change every year and it is practically impossible for everyone to keep up on them – even CIS. The best you can do is to work with a team that follows CIS trends as closely as possible and do your best. Working with a credential evaluation agency that specializes in RFEs and difficult cases is advised because they understand what works and what does not. This will not always prevent an RFE, but you’ll know you are in good hands in any case.Sometimes it’s The Candidate’s FaultThis is a hard but true fact. Oftentimes, a candidate will make a mistake, and if this is your situation, it’s time to eat some humble pie and move forward towards a solution. Candidates, did you make a mistake about the value of your degree, certificate, license or diploma? Did you provide poorly or even fraudulently translated documents? Did you provide poorly evaluated documents? Did you receive your degree from an unaccredited institution? Educational document errors and inconsistencies, as well as mistranslations can be picked up by a skilled credential evaluator, but sometimes that’s not the first agency you work with. Be honest with yourself and your team about your credentials, and find honest, well-trained translation and evaluation agencies to work with from the beginning. At the end of the day, candidates, your petition is your responsibility.Sometimes it’s The Attorney’s FaultAttorneys, did you file the petition incorrectly? Sometimes this happens. Find out what went wrong and what you need to do to fix it. At this point, it’s probably not worth it to fire the attorney unless a horrible mistake was made. Oftentimes, when the attorney is at fault it’s for the same reason that candidates may have been at fault: they worked with the wrong translation or evaluation agency and ended up submitting inaccurate documents. These problems can be addressed by working with credible translation and evaluation agencies. Just make sure you work with TWO SEPARATE agencies – one for translation and one for credential evaluation – as these are two highly specialized services that require very different and very specific sets of skills.Sometimes it’s CIS’s FaultIt’s no secret that CIS makes mistakes. Sometimes an RFE may be factually incorrect. Your petition, or your employee or client’s petition could be absolutely spotless, filed perfectly, and filed on time, and CIS will still issue an RFE. While these RFEs are frustrating, they are also easy fixes because you already have all of the documentation and information you need at your fingertips.Sometimes Your Evaluator – or the Evaluation itself – is at faultMaybe it was your evaluator’s error that triggered the RFE. Maybe it was the evaluation that your evaluator wrote but not your evaluator. This may sound confusing, but it’s actually a fairly simple differentiation. The candidate’s visa requires a very specific evaluation to write the equivalency to the US degree that you, your employee, or your client needs to meet H-1B visa requirements, and in the field that matches the H-1B job. If your degree, or your client or employee’s degree was earned outside of the United States, or with a major that is not an exact match to the job, you need an evaluation written that converts years of progressive work experience into college credit to fill in the gaps between the degree and the job, or the degree and the degree CIS requires you, or your client or employee to have.Not every evaluation agency can provide this. Some do not specialize in immigration and visa evaluations, and some don’t have the authority or cannot provide the evidence needed to back up a work experience conversion. Talk to potential credential evaluation agencies. They may be able to write an accurate evaluation, but it may be the wrong evaluation for the H-1B petition. If an agency does not ask about the job or the visa, look elsewhere. The agency you want is one that specializes in immigration and visa evaluations, and specializes in RFEs and difficult cases.An RFE is a chance to strengthen your case, or the case of your client or employee. Sit down with your team to find out who – if anyone – dropped the ball, who can solve the problem, and how to best proceed.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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. ]]>

    H1B RFE Season: How to Get Through Approved!

  • Easy to communicate with. They should answer when you call, respond to your texts and emails, and answer your questions with confidence.
    1. Follows CIS approval trends. The person you want writing your evaluation knows what CIS is looking for. CIS trends change, and an evaluation that worked last year may not work again this year. As in any job, the best professionals are the ones who keep on learning and changing with the industry.
    1. Works with RFEs and Difficult Cases regularly. You got an RFE. You want to work with someone who works with people in your situation and consistently achieves the outcome for others that you want for yourself.
    Don’t let RFE season get you down. You are not alone in this, and there are plenty of helpful professionals who are happy to consult with you on your case. Good luck!!About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila 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. ]]>

    International Students Scapegoated for General Trend of Academic Dishonesty in US Colleges and Universities

    In early June, Wall Street Journal published a highly-circulated article stating that the number of international students caught cheating in US colleges and universities in the 2014-15 school year was 5.1 in 100, while the number for domestics students was 1 in 100.  The article then went into a list of reasons why international students are more likely to cheat, cheating tactics and strategies, and why schools are turning a blind eye.  However, these numbers are problematic, as WSJ touches on in their article, and this statistic is not representative of international students in general, which this article will explain shortly.

    First, let us take a look at how this survey got its numbers.  Over a dozen US colleges and universities were involved in this survey.  The survey’s results are based on institution-reported rates of cheating.  The reason the number of participating institutions is not higher is because many of the schools approached do not track cheating in such a way because it would not be reflective of those who cheat and get away with it, and the actual chore of collecting and interpreting this data is overwhelming.  Why is this?  According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, about 60% of all US college and university students report having cheated at least once in the last academic year.  This number includes both foreign and domestic students.  This means schools cannot track actual rates of cheating because it is so rampant.  It also means that while schools are catching international students cheating at higher rates than domestic students, the fact of the matter is who they catch does not reflect the rates of who actually cheats.
    The second problem is that schools quantify cheating in different ways, a crucial difference in measurement that WSJ indicated was not taken into account in the cited survey.  Some schools quantify cheating by the number of incidents, while other schools quantify by the number of students involved. Since many of the incidents of students getting caught included clusters of students all having the same wrong answer on a test raising a big red flag, the number of incidents and the number of students involved yield vastly different rates of academic dishonesty.
    WSJ delved into the reasons as to why rates of cheating were so high amongst international students.  High pressure to do well to keep their visa status, trouble with the English language, and misunderstanding of US academic integrity were all on the list.  Another factor indicated is that schools have been accepting more and more international students without taking into consideration the extra socialization these students need to fully integrate into the US academic atmosphere and be successful.  These students face high pressure to succeed in a new culture and in a non-native language, and are targeted by entrepreneurs offering test-taking and custom paper-writing services that have been discovered on college and university campuses across the country.  It is also believed that the high rates of international students caught cheating means that since these students feel that everyone else is being academically dishonest anyway they might as well join in and ease the pressure.  Meanwhile, WSJ reports that international students caught cheating do not get expelled because schools depend on the high tuition rates they pay to offset in-state tuition and deceased state subsidies.
    While it is true that international students have kept colleges and universities in the US financially healthy, it is not true that there is a culture of cheating amongst these students. It is true that international students are targeted by services offering to take tests, write papers, and even take on a student’s entire course load – for an ample fee, of course.  However, the vast majority of international students do not buy into these services, and could not afford them even if they wanted to.  It is easier to catch cheating when a student who does not speak English very well turns in a beautifully written paper, or an impersonator shows up to take a student’s test, however the rates of who gets caught cheating do not accurately reflect the rates of all of those who cheat.
    While WSJ interviewed professors and administrators of college and universities, they overlooked a group of professionals that works very closely with international students from all over the world: foreign credential evaluators.  Foreign credential evaluators are international education experts who understand academic infrastructure, norms, and ethics around the world.  Evaluators work closely with these students to evaluate their foreign education in terms of US academic standards for the purposes of admission to undergraduate and graduate programs in the US, as well as employment and visa status.
    Sheila Danzig, international education expert and Executive director of prominent credential evaluation agency TheDegreePeople does not agree that there is a culture of cheating amongst international students.  In fact, she sees quite the opposite.
    “The 5.1 in 100 ratio does not accurately reflect the reality of academic integrity in US colleges and universities,” explains Danzig.  “International students tend to be incredibly honest and hardworking, and greatly appreciate the opportunity to earn a degree in the United States.”
    About the Author  Sheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of 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.
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    Common Foreign Degrees that Get Lost in Translation

    kandidat naouk – which is generally considered to be the equivalent of a US doctorate degree. However, it cannot be TRANSLATED as such; the degree must be evaluated in terms of academic content and functional equivalency. In the same way, the Indian Chartered Accountancy Certificate, which is the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, is NOT a US CPA, a certificate that does not equate to postsecondary education. However, the Canadian Chartered Accountancy Certificate DOES fit the equivalency of a US CPA, and for this reason candidates with Indian Chartered Accountancy certificates often have their degrees mistranslated in such a way that it looses academic value.How can you prevent mistranslations from putting a costly damper on your EB2 filing process? First, have the documents translated. The translator should make direct translations without inserting value judgment, sticking to the literal translation of the words in the document. Second, take these translated documents to a credential evaluator who can review the language translation for academic accuracy, and then write the detailed evaluation necessary to show the academic value of your client’s education. Do not trust agencies that offer a one-stop shop for translation and evaluation. If your educational documents, or your employee or client’s educational documents must be translated, make sure that translation and evaluation remains a two-step process, working with professionals in both separate fields.About the Author Sheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of 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.]]>

    What USCIS Needs to Know about Your Client’s Indian Three-Year Degree

  • Candidates do not possess the core knowledge that comes from a US four-year degree.
  • The Indian three-year bachelor’s degree tends to have a more specialized curriculum while US four-year bachelor’s degree programs require general credits and classes from outside of a student’s major. However, this is changing in universities across India. Many institutions have changed to a choice-based credit system, which allows flexibility for students to take classes outside of their major. At the same time, the core education curriculum required for Indian students to earn a High School Diploma before they even enter college is extensive, rigorous, and well rounded. In most cases, Indian students are coming into college with the core knowledge US bachelor’s degree students must learn in college.
    1. The missing fourth year means a missing year of academic content.
    Debunking this myth is a matter of math. The US four-year bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours to graduate. One college credit hour is comprised of fifteen classroom contact hours, meaning fifteen hours spent directly in the classroom. This is 1800 classroom contact hours for a US four-year bachelor’s degree. According to Dr. R. Venkatachalam, former psychology professor at Bharathiar University in India (http://www.emailwire.com/doc/three-year-indian-degree.pdf), a typical Indian three-year degree program has roughly 3,240 classroom contact hours.Now that you understand the value of your client’s three-year Indian bachelor’s degree, how can you express this to USCIS in a way that they will understand? Regardless of how many classroom contact hours your client’s degree consists of, CIS still requires a progressive work experience evaluation to account for the missing fourth year. This means your client must have three years of work experience in their field of employ that can be converted into one year of college credit in that field. Progressive work experience means your client took on more work and responsibility in this experience, indicating that specialized skills and knowledge were learned and mastered. A credential evaluation agency with the authority to convert progressive work experience into college credit can write the detailed credential evaluation your and your client need to meet H1-b visa requirements in accordance with CIS educational trends. Do not file your client’s H1-b petition without one such credential evaluation or the missing fourth year will come back to haunt you in the form of an RFE or Denial.About the Author Sheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of 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.]]>

    Computer Systems Analyst: The H1b Job that gets the Most RFEs

    learned through this work experience and put these new specialized skills and knowledge to practical use in the workplace. An evaluator can convert three years of progressive work experience into one year of college credit in the field of Computer Systems Analysis to account for the missing fourth year.While an RFE is not the end of the world, it is a big red flag that triggers a close scrutiny of your client’s petition and increases chances of rejection. An evaluator who specializes in RFEs and difficult cases understands CIS trends and knows common triggers for RFEs, as well as how to address these triggers when they arise and how to avoid them in the first place. Before you file your client’s H1b petition, get in touch with a credential evaluation agency that specializes in RFEs and difficult cases. Have them review your client’s case.About the Author  Sheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of 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. ]]>

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