At TheDegreePeople, we recently helped a client with a three-year bachelor’s degree overturn the Denial he received from USCIS for his EB2 petition. He had over ten years of work experience in his field of employ, a three-year bachelor’s degree, and a two-year master’s degree. PERM requirements for his visa stated he needed a master’s degree plus two years of work experience in the field, requirements that he clearly met. The problem, of course, was the three-year bachelor’s degree.
CIS is notoriously finicky about accepting a three-year bachelor’s degree as the equivalent of a US four-year bachelor’s degree, particularly Indian three-year bachelor’s degrees. Because CIS did not recognize the three-year bachelor’s degree as the equivalent of a US four-year bachelor’s degree, and because that degree was a prerequisite to the master’s program, CIS deemed that the master’s degree was not, in fact, equivalent to a US master’s degree.
When our client filed, he received a Denial. That’s when he came to us. In this situation, the evaluator has two options to show that the three-year bachelor’s degree – and thus the two-year master’s degree – meets its US equivalent.
First, we could break down the classroom contact hours in a three-year bachelor’s degree and apply the Carnegie Unit conversion in which fifteen classroom contact hours is the equivalent of one college credit hour. The standard US four-year bachelor’s degree has 120 college credit hours. Since the vast majority of Indian three-year degrees are comprised of at least 1800 classroom contact hours, the conversion shows that there are more than enough college credit hours in a three-year degree to be the equivalency of a US four-year degree.
In addition to this detailed breakdown of the academic content of the three-year degree, we would also cite binding UNESCO instruments, as well as numerous three-year bachelor’s degrees that can be earned in the United States. In addition, we would provide a list of US master’s degree programs – including programs at Harvard, Columbia, and Wharton – that accept an Indian three-year bachelor’s degree as an adequate prerequisite to these master’s degree programs to prove the functional equivalency of the client’s bachelor’s degree as a step in obtaining a master’s degree. Along with all of this documentation, we would provide 400 more pages of documentation we have gathered showing how a three-year degree is the equivalent of a US four-year bachelor’s degree, and also discuss the Matter of Shah – a case that CIS depends on to invalidate three-year bachelor’s degrees. The Matter of Shah is not an accurate instrument to determine the value of a three-year degree for many reasons.
Our second option has a higher success rate than the first option, and is in most cases the method of approach we will take. Using the method about to be explained, we have seen a 95% approval rate with three-year degrees for EB2 visas.
In this second method is a two-step process. First, we would write an evaluation to show how three years of undergraduate education with and additional two years of graduate school are equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree. We can do this without it being considered combining education. PERM requirements clearly state that the bachelor’s degree must be a single source, and we can meet these requirements with this method by citing appropriate memos. The next step is to show how five years of progressive work experience in our client’s field of employ is equivalent to a US master’s degree. We can do this by citing federal case law.
If the second option works so much better, why would we ever use the first option? The first option is well accepted for EB3 visas, but tends to only work half of the time for EB2. However, if a client does not have a master’s degree, or the client’s attorney specifically requests we go that route, that is the route we will take. Every case is different, and every client and their education is different.
About the Author
Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.