A recent client came to us with a bachelor’s degree in engineering for a job in computer sciences and a big RFE to show for it. Candidates for both H-1B and EB2 visas have been running into this problem because while employers will hire them with degrees in related fields – because of related work experience and because they understand the great degree of academic overlap between the fields – USCIS requires the degree be an exact match for the job offer. What is needed to meet this requirement is a credential evaluation that shows the candidate’s academic and professional background is the equivalent of the right degree specialization.
For an H-1B candidate, we could have written a credential evaluation that combined work experience in the field with their education and written the equivalency of a US bachelor’s degree in computer sciences that would meet CIS requirements for the visa. For EB2 candidates like our client, it’s not so straightforward.
EB2 educational requirements demand the bachelor’s degree be a single source. That means no combining work experience with college credit, and no combining education from two different colleges. However, the EB2 visa classification requires the candidate to hold a US Master’s degree or its equivalent or higher, so instead of going after the bachelor’s degree equivalency, we focused on our client’s Master’s degree equivalency to answer this RFE.
According to federal precedent and case law, five years of progressive work experience in the field is the equivalent of a Master’s degree in that field. Our client certainly had those five years. We wrote a credential evaluation that converted his five years of work experience in the field of computer sciences into the Master’s degree in computer sciences he needed to fit CIS requirements for his job and his visa. We backed up this equivalency by extensively citing and documenting the precedent decisions and federal case law regarding this work experience conversion for this particular visa.
CIS accepted this equivalency and his EB2 visa was approved.
If you, or your employee or client has a tricky education situation and his or her straightforward credentials do not match PERM requirements, don’t take chances. Talk to a credential evaluator that specializes in difficult cases, RFEs, and Denials, because they know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to what CIS will and will not accept. Make sure your evaluator is well versed in CIS trends, CIS precedents, federal case law, international trade agreements, and international education.
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.