If your client is petitioning for an H1B visa with a foreign degree – especially if it is a three-year bachelor’s degree – you already know you need to submit a credential evaluation for the petition to be successful. More and more education RFE’s are issued every year to clarify foreign degree equivalencies. However, RFE’s also occur when CIS suspects evaluator is unreliable. At the same time, many evaluators will write a valid evaluation that does not fit the educational requirements of the H1B visa because the agency does not specialize in writing evaluations for visa petitions. Not every evaluation agency can write the evaluation your client needs to get his or her visa approved. Not every evaluation agency is reliable.
How do you find the right evaluation agency for your client’s education?
• Inexpensive. When it comes to credential evaluation agencies, you DON’T get what you pay for. In fact, some of the very best evaluation agencies are the cheapest. This is because reliable agencies don’t have to make the most financial mileage out of each customer to stay in business.
• Easy to communicate with. This means they answer your calls, texts, and emails promptly, and when you communicate with them you feel comfortable and satisfied that all of your questions have been answered. When a company answers when you call, and responds promptly when you call or text, that means they value customer service and respect your time. When you feel comfortable talking with them and they answer any questions you may have, that indicates they are confident and knowledgeable about the work they do. This is the evaluation agency you want on your team.
• Experience in H1B Visa evaluations, RFE’s and difficult degrees. If you call a credential evaluator about an evaluation for an H1B visa and they don’t ask about your client’s job offer, look elsewhere. An evaluation agency experienced in writing evaluations for visas know that your client’s degree specialization must match their field of employ. If they don’t ask this question, they don’t know enough about visa requirements or CIS trends to write the evaluation your client needs for his or her H1B visa. Also, evaluation agencies that write evaluations responding to RFE’s are very familiar with common education RFE’s, why they are triggered, and how to respond effectively.
Not all credential evaluators are the same. Many agencies will write an evaluation based on the most conservative equivalencies pulled from a standard database. The problem is, there are no set standard equivalencies when it comes to evaluating a foreign degree because every situation is different. Federal case law, international trade agreements, and international education expert opinions and case studies show that the value of each candidate’s education is unique. To really understand the value of your candidate’s education, an evaluator must understand the academic context of the country the degree came from, stages of education required to earn that degree, the academic value of that degree in his or her home country and the jobs and professions that degree qualifies them for, as well as your client’s self-study, work experience, and miscellaneous educational background. International trade and labor organizations understand that the nature international education is too nuanced for standard, conservative equivalency evaluations, and this sentiment is reflected in federal case law, UNESCO conventions, and international labor and trade agreements. An evaluation agency that simply pulls equivalencies out of a database is not writing an accurate evaluation of your client’s academic value.
Responding to an RFE – or even better, writing an evaluation that does not trigger one – requires an evaluator with an understanding of the nature of international education across borders and cultures. This evaluator understands CIS trends and requirements, federal case law, and international trade and labor agreements and conventions that take the full reality of a candidate’s education into account when evaluating its academic worth. Sometimes responding to an RFE takes a creative solution that an evaluator who understands not only what CIS is asking for, but WHY they are asking for the specific evidence they need knows how to answer the right question even if the exact documentation asked for is not available. Choose an affordable evaluation agency that feels good to talk to, and has experience with H1B visas, RFEs, and difficult cases.
About the Author
Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of 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.