US immigration

How Functional Equivalency can Get Your Client’s Visa Approved

functional equivalency.An equivalency means that the candidate has the educational experience that has resulted in the same knowledge base and skill set required to work their specialty occupation that a US degree would result in. Equivalency is not always interpreted in a literal sense. Looking up correspondence between degree majors and titles only goes so far when your client has a degree or major that exists in their home country, but not in the United States.It is possible to device an equivalency based on an understanding of the role of the credential concerned as it functions within its native system, independently of what the major, degree, or title is called. This is particularly true when considering credentials that have a professional or vocational orientation.To see how this works, let’s take a look at how the US Bachelor’s of Science degree functions in terms of admission to a US Master’s of Business Administration program. By looking at this functional relationship, we can see that the US Bachelor’s of Science equips candidates with the required knowledge base and skill set US MBA programs require students to have to be successful in MBA programs.Take a US Bachelor of Science with a major in Physics and a US Master of Business Administration. While at first glance, these degrees and majors are unrelated, when considered from the perspective of MBA admissions, a relationship CAN be established because the MBA has a long history of admitting students with Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Physics. They are functionally related in this way. This illustrates that a Bachelor’s of Science in Physics is a functional step – a prerequisite – to an MBA credential. This has particular relevance where USCIS requires that two credentials are related in order to meet a given PERM requirement. Examining admissions practices in Master’s programs in the United States reveals other useful functional relationships not only in the business world, but also in areas such as computer sciences and information management.If your client has a foreign degree without a clear US equivalency, or a vocational or professional credential, they need to have their education reviewed by an evaluator who possesses a deep understanding of the stages of education in systems around the world. The evaluator you are looking for understands how these systems function so they can discern and clearly explain the functional equivalency of your client’s education.About the AuthorSheila DanzigSheila Danzig is the Executive Director of TheDegreePeople.com a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.  ]]>

How to Avoid that H1B RFE

  • Make sure the information is consistent across all of the documents and forms.
  • Don’t ever submit an H1B petition without double-checking every form and document for consistency and accuracy. This means spelling of names, dates of jobs and education, names of employers and schools, and locations of these jobs and schools. Everything must be consistent. CIS is on the lookout for visa fraud. Inaccurate or inconsistent answers are big red flags that can arouse suspicion even though your client and his or her employer is legitimate.
    1. Your client’s job must be a specialty occupation.
    This means your client’s job must require a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent. To show this, you need to prove that not only does your client’s particular job require a degree to perform, but that similar jobs in similar companies in the same industry also require an advanced degree. This shows that the skills and knowledge needed to successfully carry out the duties of your client’s job requires an advanced degree.
    1. Your client must possess a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent.
    Unless your client has a very straightforward bachelor’s degree or higher from a US college or university, you will need to get your client’s credentials evaluated by an authorized foreign credentials evaluator. Some degrees are more complex than others because many countries have certifications and licenses that are actually degrees, even though the word degree is not in the title. Professional licenses like the Indian Chartered Accountancy license require the equivalence of the same post-secondary education required for a bachelor’s degree. However, Canadian Chartered Accountancy does not require education that equates to post-secondary education. Another example of a difficult education situation is the Indian three-year bachelor’s degree. While it has the same – if not greater – amount of classroom contact hours as the US four-year bachelor’s degree, you need to account for the extra year of education for CIS to consider the Indian three-year bachelor’s degree as equivalent to the US four-year degree. To do this, a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of progressive work experience in your client’s field of employ into years of college credit must write an evaluation with the equivalency of three years of work experience to one year of college credit documented and accounted for to account for the missing fourth year.
    1. Your client’s degree must be an exact match for the job offer.
    Until less than a decade ago, an H1B candidate with a degree in a field related to their job title would get their visa approved without an RFE. Now we are seeing RFE’s for degrees that are not an exact match for the job offer. While employers will hire employees with degrees in related fields, CIS will not approve their visas. CIS requires your candidate have the specialized skills and knowledge required for their H1B job. While candidates with related degrees may possess these skills – particularly if they are hired for the job – your client needs to prove this to CIS with a degree match. If your client’s degree is not an exact match for his or her job offer, have a credential evaluator review your client’s education and employment history. An evaluation can be written converting years of progressive work experience into college credit in the major that matches your client’s job. Classroom contact hours in coursework in the matching field can also be evaluated and counted towards a major in that field.
    1. Your client’s degree must be specialized.
    Since the H1B visa is for specialized occupations, your candidate must have a degree that reflects having learned and mastered specialized skills and knowledge. A generalized degree – such as a liberal arts degree with no specific field of specialization – is not adequate to show a candidate possesses such knowledge. If your client has a generalized degree but was still hired for an H1B occupation, clearly his or her employer can see that your client has the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to excel at the job. Now you have to provide CIS with evidence that this is the case. Have a credential evaluator review your client’s transcripts and resume to see what conversions can be made to write an equivalency to a specialized degree that matches the H1B job offer.The H1B visa requirements are very detailed and specific, especially when it comes to your client’s education. H1B trends change as this visa becomes more and more sought after with higher demand for highly skilled workers in STEM industries that the US workforce can supply.   Before you submit, have a credential evaluator look over your client’s transcripts, educational documents, and work experience to see if an evaluation is needed, and if so, what must 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.]]>

    What’s in an H1-B Credential Evaluation and Why Does it Matter?

  • Institutions of education and attendance dates. An evaluation will indicate which schools and colleges your client attended and for how long, including the profile and accreditations of the schools your client attended. This means elementary school, high school, and post-secondary institutions. The reason for this is because the number of years of education varies from country to country from the time your client entered school as a child. These are all factors in equivalency recommendations.
    1. Diploma, certificate, degree, and transcript equivalents. All of these documents will be included in the evaluation along with their equivalents indicated and explained. The steps of education is important in the evaluation process because many degrees in countries outside of the US are post-secondary degrees BUT the word degree is not in the title. To evaluate these difficult degrees, the stages of education necessary to attain these certifications must be evaluated for post-secondary equivalence.
    1. Recommended US equivalent of your client’s degree. Each credential evaluation will make an equivalence recommendation based on evidence, analysis, expert opinions, CIS precedents, international trade agreements, and even federal case law. Since there are no set standards for foreign degree equivalence evaluation, an evaluator must make a case for their recommendation.
    For the H1-B visa, you want an evaluator who can write an accurate recommendation founded in evidence, precedents, expert opinions, and documentation for your client’s degree to be the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree or higher in the field that matches your client’s job title. Not all evaluation agencies will write the detailed evaluation it takes to truly explain and assess the value of your client’s foreign degree. Many evaluation agencies simply pull conservative equivalencies from standardized equivalency databases. However, there are NO set foreign equivalency standards and every candidate’s education is different.When you hire a credential evaluator for your client’s H1-B evaluation, make sure he or she is well-versed in the specific educational requirements of the H1-B visa. This means when you call, you will be asked about your client’s specific visa, and your clients specific job. Both of these variables factor heavily into the evaluation the right evaluator will write for your client’s education.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, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.]]>

    H1B Educational Requirements Your Client Needs to Know About to Avoid an RFE

    Candidate’s Degree Must be a US Bachelor’s Degree or Its EquivalentThis requirement is not as straightforward as it sounds. If your client has a four-year Bachelor’s degree from a US college or university, go ahead and file. All other degrees need to be reviewed by a credential evaluator. Foreign degrees need a credential evaluation because educational systems vary from country to country, and the academic value of a bachelor’s degree from one place does not necessarily equate because it’s called a bachelor’s degree. In the same way, a foreign certification or licensure may actually be the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree even though it doesn’t call itself a degree. For example, one situation that triggers a lot of RFE’s is when a candidate has an Indian Chartered Accountancy certification. This is actually the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree in accounting, but the same certification in Canada is not. The Canadian Chartered Accountancy certification is a professional license, but not post-secondary education. See how this gets confusing? A credential evaluator can make the necessary equivalency determinations about your client’s education, explain how the equivalency works, and back up with equivalency with evidence.Four Years of Post-Secondary Education MatterIf your client has a three-year bachelor’s degree – ESPECIALLY if it’s an Indian three-year degree – their education is likely to trigger an RFE if it is not handled correctly. CIS trends require focus on longevity rather than academic content when it comes to years of college or university, so it is you and your client’s responsibility to show that academic content and progressive work experience comprise a fourth year of college credit. How can you do this? There are two options that we have seen work almost every time when it comes to the H1B visa. An evaluator can convert years of progressive work experience into college credit. Progressive experience means that your client’s job required them to expand their knowledgebase and skillset, and take on increasing amounts of work and responsibility. Three years of this nature of work can be converted into one year of college credit. Never submit an H1B petition without an evaluation that accounts for the missing fourth year.Degree Must Be Specialized and Exactly Matching Candidate’s JobThis is a relatively new requirement that takes many H1B candidates, their employers, and their lawyers by surprise. While it’s common for an employer to hire a candidate with a degree in a field related to the job, CIS will not approve their visa. In the past six or seven years, CIS trends have changed regarding this requirement. In the past, a candidate with a degree in a related field would have the petition approved, now instead they receive an RFE. Your client’s degree major must be an exact match for their field of employ. At the same time, because H1B requirements indicate the job must require specialized knowledge and skills to carry out its duties, candidates with generalized degrees are also running into this problem. If your client is in a mismatched degree situation, your client needs to prove that she does possess the specialized skills and knowledge required to be successful at her job even if it is not directly reflected in her college major.The way to do this is to prove equivalence to a US bachelor’s degree in her field of employ with a credential evaluation. The way this works is an evaluator can convert years of progressive work experience in her field of employ into college credit hours in that major track with the three years of work to one year of college credit conversion. The evaluation must show that your client has the equivalent of a US four-year bachelor’s degree with the bulk to the equated credit hours in their field. This requires a detailed evaluation with a credential evaluator familiar with CIS educational requirements, as well as precedents of what they will accept and what they will not accept.If your client as anything but a straightforward US four-year bachelor’s degree, have their education reviewed by a credential evaluator to see what you need to do to avoid an RFE.About the Author Sheila DanzigSheila 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.]]>

    H1-B Checklist to Avoid an RFE in 2016

  • Is your client’s job a specialty occupation?
  • What does this mean? To CIS, a specialty occupation is a job that requires your client to hold a US bachelor’s degree in the field or higher, or its equivalent to carry out the duties of said job. Their job must require specialized skills and knowledge to perform. How can you prove this? A copy of the ad for your client’s job that includes minimum requirements can be used as evidence, as well as similar postings for similar jobs working for similar companies. If your client’s job requires a bachelor’s degree or higher but similar positions do not, you need to supply more evidence. This means expert opinion letters, which can be useful anyway, as well as evidence that shows the skills needed for this particular job are more advanced due to the unique nature of your client’s particular job.
    1. Does your client’s education meet the requirements for their job?
    Once you’ve established that your client’s job is H1-B qualified, it’s time to make sure you’ve proven your client is qualified for his or her H1-B job. This means they have a bachelor’s degree or higher in the required field, as well as the necessary training and work experience the job requires.
    1. Is the value of your client’s education clear to CIS?
    If your client’s degree is from a country outside of the United States, it will need to be evaluated for US equivalence. Anything besides a very straightforward US bachelor’s degree needs a credential evaluation. Never submit an H1-B petition with a foreign degree without a detailed credential evaluation. This is an increasingly common RFE trigger. The Indian and other three-year Bachelor’s degrees commonly trigger RFE’s because of the missing fourth year. A credential evaluator can convert years of progressive work experience in your client’s field of employ into college credit to account for the missing year. Progressive means that the candidate’s work required them to take on more responsibilities and develop their knowledge base and skill set to meet the increasing demands of the work. Three years of progressive experience in the field can be equated to one year of college credit. All that is needed is a well-documented evaluation to prove it.Another common problem that trigger RFE’s for even the most qualified candidate’s petition is that they have a degree that doesn’t call itself a degree. Many countries have degrees that require postsecondary education and the necessary stages of education to meet Bachelor’s degree requirements, but don’t actually have the word “degree” in the title. These certifications also require a credential evaluation because while in some countries these are degree equivalencies, in other countries they are not. Because this is not clear and straightforward, without a credential evaluation CIS will not have enough evidence to approve your client’s petition.
    1. Do your client and his or her employee have an employer-employee relationship?
    What is an employer-employee relationship? To establish that your client and his or her employer have this kind of relationship, the employer must be able to hire, fire, promote, pay, and otherwise control the work that the employee does. To prove that this is the case, submit a copy of the employment contract, and other documentation that clearly displays the nature of your client’s work.
    1. Does your client’s degree match his or her field of employ?
    Just six or seven years ago, H1-B candidates were able to get their visas approved with a degree in a field related to their job. Now, CIS requires an exact match. Employers hire employees for specialized positions with bachelor’s degrees in related fields all the time. CIS, however, does not approve their visas. Instead, they get RFEs. If your client’s bachelor’s degree is generalized or in a field related to but not an exact match for his or her job, have a credential evaluator review their educational documents. Oftentimes, a detailed evaluation that takes work experience into account to draw an equivalency to a degree in the matching field.  Years of progressive work experience in the field can be counted towards this matching degree specialization with the three years of experience to one year of college credit conversion. This can both work to account for the missing fourth year in three-year Bachelor’s degrees, AND to write an equivalency for a specialized degree in your client’s exact field of employ.Before you file, sit down with your client, your client’s employer, and your credential evaluator and go through these questions. Ask, is this true? Then ask, have we provided the evidence necessary to clearly prove to CIS that this is true? Don’t ever file without doing everything you can to make sure you and your client got the petition right the first time. There’s no need to wait for an RFE.About the Author Sheila DanzigSheila 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. ]]>

    Who is to Blame for Your H1B RFE?

    When is it the attorney’s fault?Very rarely, an attorney will file an application incorrectly.  Generally, however, the attorney error occurs when the candidate’s education is not reviewed by an education specialist before the application is filed.  In this case, the candidate’s account of their education and experience is incorrect or does not meet the CIS requirements for the H1-B.  Unless this is the case, don’t fire your attorney over an RFE.When is it the evaluator’s fault, and how can it be the fault of the evaluation but NOT the person who wrote the evaluation?There are situations when the RFE is clearly the evaluator’s fault because the evaluation was done incorrectly.  For example, when a non-accredited PGD is listed as accredited, CIS jumps on that inaccuracy to issue an RFE.   This rarely happens, because most evaluators are highly trained in spotting unaccredited education.However, every evaluation is different, and evaluations for different Visas must be written very differently.  When an evaluator writes an evaluation for any particular visa, he or she needs to know both the Visa regulations AND current CIS trends.  Not every evaluation agency is aware of the Visa regulations. The evaluator may have provided the evaluation ordered by the client, only to find that the equivalence does not work for the particular Visa.  For example, if you have a four-year degree in electrical engineering, you can receive an evaluation written correctly showing an equivalency to a US bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but then receive an RFE anyway because your job is in the field of computer software analysis.  This sort of mismatch triggered an onslaught of RFEs this year.  The evaluator did a good job, but the evaluation was not correct for the purposes of the Visa.  In this case, you may have likely found the right evaluator, but he or she provided you with the wrong evaluation even though they acted in good faith.  To avoid this, make sure you order your evaluation from an agency that knows education regulations for each Visa.  If you advise an evaluation agency that you need an evaluation for an H1-B visa and they don’t ask about the job offer, find a new agency.  The degree must precisely fit the field of employment for this Visa and the evaluator needs to know this information so they can evaluate an equivalency to the proper degree.  If you are not asked about the job offer, the agency does not look at the Visa regulations and is not right for this job.If you have already paid an evaluator and a mistake was made, I suggest you go back to that evaluator to try to address your RFE.  However, if the evaluation agency did not make sure that the evaluation was written for the particular Visa it was ordered for, that may just be how they operate. There is nothing wrong with that unless they lead you to believe that they evaluate for immigration and meet Visa requirements as part of their service.  They may just be writing standard evaluations and not be authorized to make the conversions from work experience to education, which is necessary to prove equivalency between fields or across educational system structures.  You cannot expect an agency to do something they don’t claim to do.  So the evaluation agency you want and need is one that will look at the education, as well as the visa requirements and current CIS trends.When is it CIS’s fault?Government bureaucracies make mistakes and some RFEs are simply factually incorrect.  Everything in a petition could be done correctly and you can still receive an RFE.  Often when CIS is at fault, the RFE will state that an accredited university is not accredited, or that a qualified evaluator is not qualified.  While these RFEs are frustrating, they are usually also easy fixes.  With the help of your evaluator, you can easily provide]]>

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