Continuing the trend of the past several years, more RFE’s were issued on Visa petitions this year than there have ever been in the past. That means more Visa candidates, their employers, their lawyers, and evaluators experienced even more concern, frustration, and angst this year than they ever have in the past. RFE’s are stressful. A lot of time, work, and money are involved in filing the initial Visa petition and candidates have a lot at stake. Receiving an RFE after putting in all of that time, work, and money is stressful to say the least.
However, an RFE is not the end of the world so long as it is addressed correctly, and the first step to addressing an RFE is to understand who is to blame for the missing information, and what it is asking. Discerning who is at fault for an RFE is an important step to solving the problem.
Sometimes it’s the lawyer’s fault. On a rare occasion, the PERM will be filed incorrectly. In most cases when the lawyer is at fault for the RFE the error is when the candidate’s education is not reviewed by an education specialist before the PERM is filed, causing the education to be incorrect or not meet CIS requirements on the PERM. Sometimes it’s CIS. Government bureaucracies make mistakes and even if everything is done right in the petition CIS will issue an RFE. Typically when this happens, CIS will state that an accredited university is not accredited, or that a qualified evaluator is not qualified. These RFE’s are frustrating ones to receive, but are fortunately easy to fix by providing the facts and evidence necessary. Sometimes the RFE came by fault of the candidate. Candidates have been known to send high school educational documents in the place of college ones by accident. Candidates with educational documents written in another language may also accidentally provide poorly translated or even fraudulently translated documents for evaluation. A good evaluator can pick up on these errors, by many do not. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault at all and CIS trends change faster than anyone can keep up.
Sometimes the evaluator is to blame, and sometimes it’s the evaluation itself by not the evaluator. This can get confusing because you don’t want to fire a good evaluator over the wrong evaluation.
There are situations when the evaluation is simply incorrect. One common example is when an evaluator lists a non-accredited PGD as accredited. CIS will jump on that inaccuracy and issue an RFE. However, sometimes the evaluator did a good job and wrote an accurate evaluation, but the evaluation itself was not correct for the purposes of the Visa the education was being reviewed for. Every evaluation is different just like every Visa is different, and evaluations for different Visas must be written differently. For example, some Visas will accept an evaluator combining the candidate’s education from different degrees or from work experience to write an equivalence while other Visas require the degree to be a single-source. At the same time, CIS trends change based on many factors, and the evaluation must take these trends into account when writing an evaluation to successfully meet them.
Sheila Danzig, director of foreign credential evaluation agency Career Consulting International, www.TheDegreePeople.com explains, “When an evaluator writes an evaluation for any particular visa, he or she must know both the Visa regulations and current CIS trends. The evaluator may have done the job properly but the equivalence does not work for the particular Visa.”
To avoid this sort of setback, be sure to order an evaluation agency well versed and up to date in education requirements and CIS trends for each Visa. Some current trends that have resulted in an onslaught of RFE’s are having a degree that does not exactly fit the candidate’s field of employ for an H1B Visa. Your evaluator should be aware of this trend and understand how to show the equivalence of the degree in the field that you need.
But how can you tell whether or not an evaluation agency understands all of the different Visa requirements and CIS trends?
“When you call in for a consult with any credential evaluation agency, let them know what Visa you are applying for and listen for the questions they ask you,” Danzig advises. “For example, if you tell them you need an evaluation for an H1B Visa and they don’t ask you about your job offer, look elsewhere. Their evaluators might be able to write an accurate evaluation, but if they don’t ask about your job offer, the agency simply does not understand what is required of H1B Visa candidates. These agencies may be great at what they do, but what they do is not what you need in this case. The evaluation agency you want to write the education evaluation for your Visa is the one that will look at the education as well as the visa requirements and CIS trends.”
The bottom line is that finding out whose actions or inactions caused the RFE is important because there is no reason to fire your lawyer or evaluator at this stage in the Visa petition process if the RFE was not their fault. Understanding your RFE is the first step to moving forward.