addressing an RFE

5 Common H-1B RFEs and Their Solutions

  • The Job is not Clearly a Specialty Occupation
  • While this RFE is primarily related to the nature of the job, it is also an EDUCATION related RFE. The question is about what level of education is needed to meet the MINIMUM qualifications to perform this job. To prove that your job, or your employee or client’s job meets CIS requirements for being a “specialty occupation,” provide the ad for the job that states it minimum requirements. You should also provide ads for similar jobs in the same industry to show that it is a general requirement for employees holding this position to have a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent. If your job, or your employee or client’s job has specialized requirements unique to the company or organization, provide an expert opinion letter stating why specialized knowledge and skills are needed for your particular job, or your employee or client’s particular job but not in similar jobs in the same industry. Remember, when in doubt, go back to the original H-1B requirements and work from there.
    1. Right Degree, Wrong Specialization or No Specialization
    Do your or does your employee or client have a US bachelor’s degree? This might not be enough. CIS requires H-1B visa holders to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in the major that exactly matches their field of employment. In the not-too-distant past, CIS would approve visas of candidates with degrees in related fields, but now these same petitions are met with RFEs at best. Since specialty occupations require specialized knowledge unique to the field, candidates with related majors or generalized degrees are not making the CIS educational cut. However, employers don’t just take on new hires without the knowledge and skills necessary to do the job. If you or your employee or client has the right skills and knowledge through classes outside of their major, as well as direct work experience in the field, you need to find a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience in the field into college credit that count towards the correct major specialization.
    1. Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree
    An unfortunately common RFE arrives when a candidate has a three-year bachelor’s degree, particularly one from India. While the Indian three-year bachelor’s degree tends to have at least the same number of classroom contact hours as the four-year US bachelor’s degree, CIS still requires candidates to account for that missing fourth year. Simply submitting a three-year transcript without an evaluation or attempting to rely on the academic content vs. academic duration requirement will almost certainly trigger an RFE. Instead, talk with a credential evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience into college credit to account for the missing fourth year.
    1. Degree has an Unclear US Equivalency
    Some advanced degrees do not have a clear US equivalency. For example, the job that gets the most RFE’s is Computer Systems Analysis. This is because this degree is EXTREMELY rare, and with current educational trends candidates must hold a degree in that very rare specialization to meet CIS trends. Another example of this is the Indian Chartered Accountancy certification. With the Canadian Chartered Accountancy certification and the US CPA are not bachelor’s degree equivalencies, the Indian Chartered Accountancy certification requires the same steps as a bachelor’s degree in accounting to qualify to take the test to become certified. This makes the Indian Chartered Accountancy the functional equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in accounting. When it comes to rare degrees or degrees without an intuitive equivalency, holding CIS’s hand and walking them through the steps of education to determine its functional equivalency is required to avoid an RFE in the first place or to answer the one that has arrived. This requires a detailed credential evaluation from a credential evaluation agency with specialized understanding of foreign and international education, as well as knowledge of where one can earn rare degree specializations in the United States.
    1. The Right Evaluation for the Wrong Visa
    Regulations surrounding educational equivalencies vary greatly from visa to visa. Some credential evaluation agencies offer cookie-cutter evaluations based on large databases without looking at each situation on a case-by-case basis. Everyone’s path through education is unique – from course content to work experience – AND every visa has different equivalency frameworks. For example, for the H-1B visa, CIS permits candidates to combine education from multiple sources, as well as years of progressive work experience to reach a US bachelor’s degree equivalency. This is not the case for the EB2 visa where the bachelor’s degree must be a single source. Therefore, it is common for candidates to end up with the right equivalency for the wrong visa. Before you hire a credential evaluator, make sure they specifically ask about your visa or your employee or client’s visa. Many credible evaluation agencies will write an accurate evaluation that does not meet CIS requirements for your visa or your employee or client’s visa. This does NOT mean your or your employee or client’s education and work experience cannot meet H-1B requirements. The evaluation must lend itself to the visa requirements, and client’s job offer. It must take into account the field of employ, the degree and specialization required, and the steps CIS allows for you, or your employee or client to get there. When you receive an RFE, sit down with your team, read it over, and understand exactly what it is asking of you. The roadmap to your success, however, is NOT necessarily in the wording of the RFE. Your success lies within knowing CIS educational requirements for the visa, and in understanding CIS approval trends. The right credential evaluation for the right visa is your key to answering an education RFE. About the Author Sheila Danzig Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to 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]]>

    It’s Easier to Prevent an RFE than to Overturn One

    st, 2016. That means CIS does not have to issue an RFE to get the information they need out of you to make an informed decision. Preventing an RFE is much easier than answering one. An RFE is a tool CIS uses to make the right decision about your petition. When they cannot make a decision based on the evidence you provided, they request more. While this is not the end of the world, and can actually be utilized as an opportunity to strengthen your case, an RFE is a red flag. A red flag is another tool CIS uses to streamline the massive amount of work they have to do to cut 233,000 petitions into 65,000 Visas. If you receive an RFE, that means a glaring omission of evidence has drawn CIS’s close attention to your petition, and it will now be picked apart. Minor errors that would have otherwise gone unnoticed will come to light. At the same time, answering an RFE is not necessarily a straight-forward process. To successfully answer an RFE, you need to sit down with your lawyer, your employer, and your evaluator to see exactly what is being asked of you and how to go about answering it. Some RFE’s are realistically impossible to answer. The “Nightmare” RFE is one of these, and we’ve been seeing more of them every year. While these can be answered, it requires strategy that only an evaluation agency with international education and federal case law experts on hand to work on your case. At CCI, we have been able to get around 95% of all of the Nightmare RFE’s we work on overturned, but these RFE’s cause a lot of unnecessary stress to H1B candidates and can be easily avoided. How can you avoid an RFE in the first place?

    1. Triple-check your answers on all of your documents and forms for consistency. Inconsistent answers – even if they are small mistakes – can trigger an RFE.
    1. Prove that your H1B job is a specialty occupation requiring a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalence or higher. You can do this by showing the ad for your job, documentation that similar jobs for similar companies require a bachelor’s degree or higher, and with an expert letter.
    1. Clearly show that your degree is a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent. If your degree is from outside of the US, you will need to have your education evaluated by an authorized credential evaluation agency. If you have a three-year degree, you will need to find an agency with the authority and expertise to convert classroom contact hours and years of work experience into college credit hours to account for the missing fourth year.
    1. Your degree must be specialized. This means if you have a liberal arts degree, or a generalized degree, CIS will not accept this as proof that you actually possess the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to be qualified for your H1B job. If you have a generalized degree, you need to talk to a credential evaluation agency that will take a close look at your course content and your work experience, and make the proper conversions to college credit hours to show equivalence to a specialized degree.
    1. Your degree must EXACTLY fit your job offer. This means that even though your employer hired you because your degree in a related field and your experience working in the field was enough to prove to them you have the specialized skills and experience necessary to be successful in your new job, CIS needs more. If your degree is not an EXACT fit for your job, you need a credential evaluation from an evaluator who can take a close look at the course content of your degree and make the necessary conversions, and who can also convert your years of work experience in the field into college credit to show equivalency to the exact degree CIS requires you to have.
    Don’t wait for the opportunity to overturn an RFE. Remember, an RFE is a big red flag waving high over your petition. The best way to address an RFE is to avoid it. Don’t give CIS an excuse to nit pick your petition. Tell them everything they need to know to make an informed decision on your petition the first time. About the Author Sheila Danzig Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFEs, Denials, or NOIDs, please go to or call 800.771.4723. Mention that you saw this in the ILW article and get 72 hour rush service at no charge.]]>

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