Who is to Blame for Your RFE?

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Just like last year and the year before, this year we have seen more RFE’s than we ever have in the past. When CIS issues an RFE, a lot of concern and angst arise. A lot is at stake with Visa approval and getting to this point in the process only to have more asked of you is a lot to stomach. Employers scream at attorneys, attorneys scream at evaluators, and candidates scream at everyone.

But whose fault is it REALLY and why does it matter whose fault it is anyway?

True, sometimes it is the attorney or evaluators fault, but sometimes it is CIS’s fault.

Sometimes it is the fault of the evaluation but not the evaluator.

Sometimes it is CIS’s fault.

Sometimes it’s the candidate’s fault.

Sometimes it is no one’s fault at all.

It matters because there is absolutely no reason to get a new attorney or a new evaluator at this stage of the process if the RFE was not their fault.

The first step to successfully responding to an RFE is to understand what is being asked for, and of whom is it being asked, and which party can provide the necessary evidence. Knowing who is at fault for the RFE is a big part of understanding how to move forward.

When is it the attorney’s fault?

Very rarely, an attorney will file a PERM incorrectly. Generally, however, the attorney error occurs when the candidate’s education is not reviewed by an education specialist before the PERM is filed. In this case, the candidate’s account of the education is incorrect or does not meet the CIS definition of a degree for that particular Visa. Unless this is the case, don’t file 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 it?

There are situations when the RFE is clearly the evaluator’s fault because the evaluation was incorrect. For example, when a non-accredited PGD is listed as accredited, CIS jumps on that inaccuracy to issue an RFE.

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 must know both the Visa regulations AND current CIS trends. The evaluator may have done the job properly but the equivalence does not work for the particular Visa. For example, someone with a four-year degree in electrical engineering can have an evaluation written perfectly showing equivalence for a US bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and then receive an RFE because his or her job is in the field of computer software analysis. This sort of mismatch triggered an onslaught of RFE’s 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 write evaluator, he or she just wrote the wrong evaluation correctly. 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 H1B visa and they don’t ask about the job offer, find a new agency. The degree must precisely fit the field of employ 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 simply does not understand what is required of H1B Visa candidates.

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. They may just be writing standard evaluations and not be authorized to make the conversions necessary to prove equivalence between fields or across educational system structures. You cannot expect an agency to do something they don’t claim to do. The evaluation agency you want 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 RFE’s 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 RFE’s are frustrating, they are also easy fixes. With the help of your evaluator, you can easily provide these facts and receive an approval.

When is it the Candidate’s Fault?

Candidates make mistakes. They have been known to insist that their high school documents are college level. They have also been known to provide poorly translated documents, or even fraudulently translated documents. Often but not always, a good evaluator can pick up on these problems before starting in on the evaluation, but not all evaluation agencies will review a candidate’s case before accepting payment and writing it. To be sure that no problems arise further down the road that can trigger an RFE, we always review all of the documents before accepting a credential evaluation order. Before we have seen all of the education documents, a resume, and the RFE or Denial if one has been issued, we have no way to discuss any given candidate’s case. We want to discover any issues in the documents right away in order to eliminate the vast majority of client confusion and misinformation.

When is it no one’s fault?

Sometimes, it really is no one’s fault. CIS trends change. As we have seen especially in the past seven or so years, CIS trends can change very quickly. We can only, at best, know what they generally do and what they have done. CIS can be a wildcard, and for that reason we can never guarantee what they are going to do. When this happens, all you can do is carefully read the RFE, understand what is being asked of whom and who can provide the requested evidence, and do your best.

Can we draw a usable conclusion?

Yes. If you have a competent attorney, work with him or her to resolve the RFE. If you used an evaluation agency before receiving an RFE, go back to them. Next time, make sure you are working with an agency that reviews the education and Visa requirements before you order. If that is not their policy, find a new agency. If that is their policy, hear them out. As much as I would like your business, an RFE is really not a reason to jump ship if an evaluation agency’s overall work has been good. Few agencies have passed through the RFE gauntlet this year unscathed, and many of these RFE’s are not the fault of the agency. Or the fault of the attorney. If you receive an RFE, the best solution is to remain calm and deal with it as best you can.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila 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. Mention that you saw this in the ILW article and get 72 hour rush service at no charge.

This article was written by Rebecca Little

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