Hundreds of thousands of highly skilled workers in STEM industries are sought out every year to come work in the United States. The reason being these industries are expanding so quickly and the jobs are becoming more and more complex, requiring technical expertise the United States educational system is notoriously weak at preparing students for. More highly skilled engineers are needed every year than the US workforce alone can provide. For this reason, if companies can afford it, they opt to sponsor employee Visas.
While sponsoring an employee’s work Visa can cost a company anywhere from $2,500-10,000 in legal fees and USCIS fees, it’s not the money that gets in the way of your genius client or employee obtaining his or her Visa. The fact of the matter is, many of the most brilliant minds followed eclectic or non-traditional educational paths to get to where they are. Common Visas for highly skilled workers – the H-1B Visa and the EB2 Visa – requires a candidates’ degree specializations to be an exact match for their job offers. However, it is common for talented engineers to have earned their degrees in related fields or vastly different fields. Some are largely or completely self-taught and have all of the skills and know-how through solo learning, work experience, and other non-traditional training opportunities.
For these reasons, while companies may jump at the opportunity to take these brilliant minds on to become assets to their companies and to US STEM industries, CIS educational requirements for Visas stand in the way.
Does this mean your client or employee with the specialized skills and knowledge to excel at their job cannot get their Visa because their degree doesn’t match?
Of course not!
A credential evaluator with extensive knowledge and experience with international education complexities, as well as CIS trends and federal case law can take a close look at your client or employee’s educational content and work experience. This way, an equivalency can be written to show that your client or employee has the equivalent of the degree necessary in the specialization necessary to qualify for his or her specialty occupation.
However, different work Visas have different requirements for where these educational equivalencies must come from. For example, if your client or employee is petitioning for an H-1B Visa and has a bachelor’s degree that is not an exact match for their field of employ, but has three years of work experience in the field, their education can be combined with the years of progressive work experience to write an equivalency that their degree is in their field of employ. Work experience and education can be combined to bridge that gap. However, if your client or employee is petitioning for an EB2 Visa and runs into that same problem, the evaluator must handle this differently because the particular Visa requires a single source degree.
Not all evaluation agencies know how to write the evaluation your client or employee needs for his or her particular Visa. When you call in to see if you want to work with any given agency, make sure that they are aware of CIS trends as well as the different educational requirements for different Visas. For example, if you let an agency know that your employee needs an evaluation for an H-1B Visa, they should quickly ask what the job offer is. If they don’t, look elsewhere. You want an evaluation agency that will tailor the evaluation to fit the needs of your client or employee’s unique situation and Visa. In essence, the evaluation must be as complex and unique as the genius it’s written for.
About the Author
Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI 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.
This article was written by Rebecca Little