Visa Adjudication Memorandum Support Part I: Expert Opinion Letters for Issues We Can Help You With

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This coming H1B season, visa adjudicators at CIS have adopted a memorandum to deny visa petitions without first issuing an RFE.

A Denial is MUCH more difficult to overturn than an RFE and it is best to avoid them altogether.  This has lawyers talking about submitting expert opinion letters with the initial H1B petition to make sure CIS has all of the information needed to approve the visa.

At TheDegreePeople, we have worked with difficult RFEs requiring expert opinion letters to answer for years, and for years we have said the best way to answer an RFE is to prevent it in the first place.  Now that is more true than ever.  Common issues arise during the adjudication process can be prevented with the right expert opinion letter, and we can help you.

Specialty Occupation Letter

Some reasons you, or your employee or client will need a specialty occupation letter have to do with wage level issues, which has been a common problem for the past two H1B seasons.  If the wage level is low, or if the low wage level indicates that the job is an entry-level position, you will need an expert opinion letter that explains how the job meets H1B specialty occupation requirements and why the wage level was selected.  Another issues that would require a specialty occupation letter to explain is the issue of what education level is typically required as a minimum to perform the job.  Could someone else with less education perform the same job?  For H1B visa approval the answer MUST be a resounding no, and this specialty occupation letter must explain why.

Specialized Knowledge Letter

To meet H1B requirements, it must be clearly shown that the beneficiary holds the specialized knowledge required to work the specialty occupation position.  If the beneficiary holds a generalized degree, incomplete college, or a degree in a different field than the position, you will need a specialized knowledge letter to show that the job requires the employee to have specialized knowledge, and that the employee has the specialized knowledge necessary.  This means specialized knowledge of the employer’s services, products, equipment, processes and procedures.

Credential Evaluations

If you, or if your employee or client has a degree from outside of the United States, a degree in a field that does not exactly match the H1B job, or incomplete or no college at all, you will need to include a credential evaluation to show that your education, or your employee or client’s education – inside and outside of the classroom – is the equivalent US academic value of what is required to meet H1B education standards.  To qualify for H1B status, the beneficiary must hold a US bachelor’s degree or higher in the field of the specialty occupation.  If you, or your employee or client holds ANYTHING BUT a US bachelor’s degree (or higher if required by the specialty occupation) in the exact field of the specialty occupation, you will need to include a credential evaluation letter to clearly show CIS that H1B educational requirements are met.

Work Experience Evaluations

If the beneficiary has incomplete college, no college, or needs extra credits to meet US academic value requirements from an overseas degree, or if the degree is in a generalized or mismatched specialization, you will need to include a work experience evaluation.  Three years of progressive work experience in the field of the specialty occupation can be evaluated to be the equivalent of one year of college credit in that field.  Progressive work experience means that the nature of the work became increasingly complex with the beneficiary taking on more responsibility as the course of the employment went on, indicating that education took place on the job.

If your case, or if your employee or client’s case includes one or more of these triggering situations, or if you are unsure of whether issues are likely to arise, visit for a free review of your case.  We will identify issues likely to arise in the adjudication process and recommendations on how to prevent them in the initial petition.

Watch out for Part II next week where we will discuss expert opinion letters needed for Education-Based Green Card petitions.


This article was written by Rebecca Little