H1B educational requirements are laden with sneaky traps that can tank your client’s case in a hurry. To avoid these traps, it is essential to be aware of the unique educational requirements of each visa, as well as the educational equivalency requirements, which also vary from visa to visa, and change with USCIS trends. Attorneys should seek the help of credential evaluators who see a lot of RFE’s, Denials, and difficult cases, and have an in-depth understanding of international education as well as CIS trends and visa requirements. This is specialized information you and your client need to know to sidestep the H1B education traps.
Is the university your client’s degree came from government accredited?
For H1B visas, the biggest education trap is the candidate has education from an institution that is not government accredited. Two common examples of this are degrees from NIIT and Aptech. Your client’s education can be legitimate, rigorous, and prepare your client with the education necessary to meet the requirements of the H1B job, but if the institution is not government accredited, CIS won’t accept it.
Is that REALLY a college degree? Or just a high school diploma?
Another common H1B education trap attorneys and their clients fall into is when an attorney listens to a client who insists his high school diploma is a college degree. In most cases, this is an honest mistake that gets taken too far. This particular trap is the result of mistranslations and cross-cultural misunderstanding. Educational systems vary greatly between countries, and different degrees are often called the same name. Meaning gets muddled in both functional and linguistic translation. To qualify for an H1B visa, your client must have at least a US Bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. A high school diploma won’t cut it.
That degree doesn’t mean what you think it does.
Bad translations are a big trap H1B candidates can fall into come filing time. Some degrees do not have direct English translations, and some degrees exist in certain countries but do not actually have a US equivalency. When educational documents get translated, words get mistranslated to skew the meaning of the value of the degree. This leads to a false evaluation following a bad translation. This trap has widened now that some translation agencies are setting up as “one-stop shops” offering both translation and credential evaluation for foreign educational documents. Credential evaluation is a very specialized field requiring highly nuanced knowledge of international education, CIS precedents, international trade agreements, and federal case law. Translation agencies simply reference an equivalency database like EDGE, which only provides the most conservative of equivalencies. Credential evaluation must be done on a case-by-case basis taking all of these aspects into consideration, as well as the specific educational requirements for the particular visa.
To avoid falling into an H1B educational trap – which there are more of every year – have a credential evaluator review your client’s education. An experienced evaluator who sees a lot of difficult cases, RFE’s, and Denials knows how to spot bad translations, unaccredited institutions, and degrees that are actually diplomas. An experienced credential evaluator can also consult you and your client on how to best move forward if their education lands square in one such trap. You and your client may have more options available than you think.
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.