visa approval

H-1B Specialty Occupation Survival Guide for the FY2020 Lottery

Next week, USCIS begins accepting H-1B petitions on Monday April 1st.  We suspect that this year there will be more than enough petitions to fill the 65,000 general H-1B cap-subject visas and the additional 20,000 H-1B visas for advanced degrees, resulting in a lottery.

Getting selected in the lottery is just the first step of the process.  Last year, the rate of RFEs for H-1B petitions jumped 45% from the year before, and of the petitions that received an RFE only 60% ended up being approved.

The two most common RFE issues that blocked beneficiaries from getting their visas approved outright – and in some cases entirely – were specialty occupation and wage level.  These two issues often came tied together as USCIS made the assumption that occupations set at level one wages were entry level, and many of these assumed positions did not ALWAYS require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher for entry not the position.  For this reason, USCIS stated that the beneficiary either was not being paid the prevailing wage for the specialty occupation, or the job did not meet specialty occupation requirements.

This year, USCIS adjudicators have the authority to deny petitions outright without first issuing an RFE to give beneficiaries the chance to strengthen their case.  That means you have to get it right the first time. 

Here’s how:

When the petition is filed, be sure to include a detailed job description that clearly shows the complex nature of the job, including examples of duties in which theoretical or practical application of specialized knowledge must be applied.  You need to provide sufficient documentation that the job is complex in nature, and that the position requires a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent to perform. This can be done by providing the ad for the job along with ads for the same position in different companies within the industry, documentation of past employer hiring practices to show that the position always requires this educational minimum qualification, and an expert opinion letter from a professional with extensive experience WORKING IN THE FIELD of the H-1B job that explains why this position meet specialty occupation requirements, and why the wage level is appropriate.

Petitions are rejected when there is not sufficient evidence to show that the job, the employer, the beneficiary, and the contract all meet H-1B requirements.

USCIS has assured H-1B hopefuls and their sponsors that a petition will not be denied simply because the wages are set at level one.  Don’t take chances.  Make sure to give USCIS a detailed breakdown of all of the factors that went into setting the wage level backed up with an expert opinion letter.

Remember, the right expert to write the opinion letter USCIS will accept – because expert opinion letters are often rejected – is someone who has extensive experience working in the field.  A professor in the field is not sufficient; the expert must have actual working experience in the field rather than just teaching it for the opinion to have weight.  At CCI TheDegreePeople.com we vet our experts to make sure they have the right credentials and work experience.  We have an over 90% approval rate for specialty occupation and wage level RFEs.  The more information you can provide your expert about the H-1B job the better the letter will be and the higher chance that you, or your employee or client will have of H-1B visa approval.

For a free review of your case visit ccifree.com/.  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less and have rush delivery options for the last minute.

]]>

Expert Opinion Letters Recommended to Prevent I-140 Issues with Visa Adjudication Memorandum

Specialty Occupation and Wage Level IssuesFor the past few years, specialty occupation issues triggered an unprecedented number of RFEs for occupations that had previously not run into trouble.  We were able to successfully get these RFEs overturned by including an expert opinion letter in the response that fully explains why the occupation meets visa requirements for specialization and educational requirements, and why the wage level it is set at is appropriate.  We have addressed this issue in both H-1B and I-140 cases.Expert opinion letters specific to I-140 issues must be submitted along with the initial petition because this year you will likely not get a second chance to clarify your case, or your employee or client’s case.  Below are three common situations that require an expert opinion letter that we can help you with:The beneficiary is filing a National Interest WaiverUSCIS does not clearly define what is in the “national interest.”  What is clearly spelled out is that the beneficiary serves a unique and functional role in serving the national interest due to their specific accomplishments, credentials, and abilities, and that a US citizen with a similar background could not fulfill this unique function.  An expert opinion letter is needed to clarify what is meant by national interest and explain why you, or your employee or client holds the key to serving it in a crucial way.Managerial or Executive CapacityAn expert opinion letter is needed here to make the distinction that the duties of your job, or your employee or client’s job meets the criteria for what defines a management position.  If you, or your employee or client is filing for a managerial or executive position, you will need an expert opinion letter to explain from the perspective of an outside expert in the industry that the beneficiary does not perform daily workplace functions, but rather MANAGES them.  This distinction can be subtle, which is why it requires additional emphasis in the petition.Extraordinary AbilityAn extraordinary ability letter from an expert in your field, or the field of your employee or client who is not affiliated with them is required to meet EB-1 criteria.  The beneficiary must have made significant contributions to their field and be internationally recognized to qualify for an I-140 visa based on extraordinary ability.  We have experts in every field on hand to write the support letter you need, or your employee or client needs.At TheDegreePeople.com we also help with preparing and filing immigration forms to aid legal assistants in the petition process.  For a free review of your case, or a free quote for form filing assistance, visit ccifree.com/.  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less. ]]>

Answering an H1B RFE: Beware of Education Traps!

Badly Translated TranscriptsWhen you submit an H1B petition, CIS requires all educational documents be translated into English and evaluated for US academic equivalence. Some degrees simply don’t translate directly into English. At the same time, many degrees do translate directly into English when it comes to the wording, but the degree has an entirely different academic content. This is why degrees must be translated AND evaluated, and these are both highly specialized fields. Sometimes translation agencies overstep their scope of practice and make educational value judgments along with language translation. This is a major H1B education trap that has become more and more treacherous as some translation agencies have begun to market their services as a “one-shop stop” for translation and evaluation. Credential evaluation must be carried out on a case-by-case basis because every pathway through learning is unique, every institution is unique, and every country has a unique structure. An evaluator must be knowledgeable about these differences, as well as federal case law, CIS precedents, degree program admissions requirements, and international trade agreements to write an accurate evaluation of your degree, or your employee or client’s degree. Translation agencies simply do not have this expertise and instead turn to conservative equivalency databases like EDGE, which is not actually a standardized equivalency database as no such database actually exists.If you or your employee or client received an RFE as the result of a bad translation, talk to a credential evaluation agency that works regularly with H1B RFE cases. A skilled evaluator can spot a bad translation and evaluate accordingly.The degree is not from a government-accredited institution.The fact is, there are plenty of institutions around the world that offer rigorous education programs that fully prepare workers for highly specialized occupations that are not actually government accredited. That means that even though you or your employee or client may have a legitimate education from an institution held in high regard by your industry, or your employee or client’s industry, the institution itself may not be government accredited and CIS will not approve the visa.This is an RFE trap that you may or may not be able to wriggle free of. If you have, or if your employee or client has years of progressive work experience in the field of their specialty occupation, a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience into college credit to write a US bachelor’s degree equivalency CIS will accept. It’s always best to find whether or not this will work BEFORE you file the petition, but even if you fell into this H1B trap for FY2017 you may still be able to answer the RFE and get the visa approved.The Bachelor’s Degree is ACTUALLY just a high school diploma.This happens more often than you may think. Mistaking a high school diploma for a Bachelor’s degree can happen as the result of cross-cultural misunderstandings, bad translations, and acting upon false information. H1B educational criteria require candidates to hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher, or its equivalent. A high school diploma – or the foreign equivalent of a US high school diploma – will not cut it.If you or your employee or client fell into this H1B education trap, talk to a credential evaluator with experience working with H1B RFEs. If you have, or if your employee or client has any post-secondary education from an accredited institution, this can be counted towards a bachelor’s degree equivalency, along with any years of progressive work experience you have, or your employee or client has in the field of employ. This is a tough mistake to recover from, and you may even find out that you or your employee or client has been pursuing the wrong visa all along. However, there is still a chance that you can claw your way out of this H1B education trap.About the Author Sheila 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. ]]>

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.  ]]>

    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. ]]>

    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.]]>

    How to Properly Address H1B Education Requirements

  • Does the candidate have a US bachelor’s degree or higher?
  • Does the candidate’s degree match their specialty occupation?
  • Many H1-B candidates do not have US bachelor’s degrees because their degree is from outside of the United States. Some candidates have not completed their degrees or received specialized training through other means. If this is your client’s situation, you need to prove that they have the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree or higher for their visa to be approved, and this must be documented with a credential evaluation. Candidates with three-year degrees, four-year degrees from countries other than the US, or incomplete or missing education can have their work experience evaluated for equivalency to years of college credit in their industry. This work experience must show that the candidate learned new, and progressively difficult, specialized skills through this work experience, and took on more and more responsibility. Three years of progressive work experience is the equivalent of one year of college with a major in that field. Credential evaluators with the authority to convert years of progressive work experience into college credit can help you and your client fill in the educational gaps between the US educational system and the educational system of the country your client’s degree is from.To prove that your client’s degree matches their job title, you need to provide evidence that the education and training required for your candidate’s degree prepare your client for the duties required in his or her H1-B job. To do this, you can submit a detailed overview of the specific duties of your client’s job, your client’s employer, and how the complexities of your client’s job relate to his or her degree. Meeting the evidence standards for this requirement may also require an expert opinion letter, documentation that similar companies require employees to hold your client’s degree for similar occupations, and even printouts of degree fields typically associated with your client’s job.In recent years, CIS has required that H1-B candidates’ degrees be an exact match for their job title. While employers will hire candidates with degrees in related fields, CIS will not approve their visas if the degree is not an exact match. This is a new CIS trend that must be taken into account when filing an H1-B petition to avoid an RFE. If your candidate holds a generalized degree or a degree in a mismatched field, get in touch with a credential evaluator. With the progressive work experience conversion, an evaluator can fill in the gap between your client’s degree specialization, and your client’s job title with years of progressive work experience in your client’s job title.When you look for the right credential evaluator for your client’s case, make sure you choose one that follows CIS trends and has a deep understanding of the nuances of education internationally.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. ]]>

    Scroll to Top