CIS trends

The Matter of Shah and Why it Should NOT Matter

did in fact major in chemistry in the Matter of Shah. Even though the board did not recognize the value of the candidate’s undergraduate degree, the University of Detroit certainly did.  In fact, the university admitted the candidate into their MBA program based on the three-year Indian bachelor’s degree being the equivalent of the US four-year bachelor’s degree necessary to gain entrance into that very program.  The fact that the candidate went on to successfully complete the two-year MBA program goes to show that the Indian three-year degree with chemistry as a special subject really did qualify the candidate for the graduate program. Finally, the last reason I will go into for why the Matter of Shah should not be grounds for denying anyone’s visa is that in making the decision, the board overturned a previous ruling.  This ruling was made by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and can be found in Appendix 5-F, pages 34-37 of the Immigrant Inspector’s Handbook.  In this ruling, the department stated that a B.S. degree in chemistry from the candidate’s university, Gujarat University, is the equivalent of a United States B.S. degree. The Matter of Shah has its foundation in four errors:

  1. Incomplete evaluation of the academic content of the candidate’s degree.
  2. Failing to translate the term “Special” into US academic context.
  3. Ignoring the University of Detroit’s decision to admit the candidate into their graduate program based on the academic value of the candidate’s three-year Indian bachelor’s degree, as well as the candidate’s successful completion of the MBA.
  4. Overturning a previous ruling that determined that the candidate’s exact degree was the equivalent of a US four-year bachelor’s degree.
The Matter of Shah should not serve as a roadblock to Visa approval.  Unfortunately, almost forty years later, it still does.  If your client or employee received an RFE about their three-year bachelor’s degree, you need to provide a credential evaluation that includes a refutation of the Matter of Shah.  As you can see, refuting the Matter of Shah as grounds for a decision about the value of a three-year Indian bachelor’s degree or specialization is not difficult to do in a credential evaluation.  However, the evaluator you select must be well versed in USCIS and immigration precedents, and be able to provide the documentation that highlights these points of refutation. 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.]]>

Scroll to Top