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  1. Over the past three H-1B cap-subject seasons, we have seen an unprecedented rise in specialty occupation RFEs calling jobs into question that had never run into trouble before. This trend is echoed across the entire H-1B visa program, with overall approval rates plummeting from over 80% in 2015 to around 60% for FY2019. USICS approval trends changing, however, is nothing new. Before the rise of the specialty occupation RFE, education issues were the big change. USCIS began issuing RFEs for petitions in which the employee held an advanced degree in a related field, requiring the employee have a degree in the exact field of the H-1B job. This threw a wrench in the system but we learned how to successfully answer these RFEs with detailed credential evaluations and creative solutions. The biggest solution when addressing difficult RFEs of any kind are to go back to the basics and go from there. It worked with education RFEs, and we have seen widespread success with it when facing specialty occupation RFEs. There are two main standards that must be met to qualify for H-1B status. Although USCIS has raised the burden of proof to meet these standards, these two rules continue to be the guide to overturn an RFE. The H-1B job must require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher to perform, and the H-1B employee must hold that degree or its equivalent. In the recent past, the issue was to prove the employee had a degree in the exact field of the H-1B job, which often required a credential evaluation to fill in the gaps between the employee’s education and the H-1B job. Now, we have to go several steps further in a similar way to prove that the H-1B job meets specialty occupation requirements. In the past, jobs that typically required a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher as an industry standard were making the cut. Now they do not. One major example of this is the job of computer programmer. According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, sometimes employers will hire to this position with just an Associate’s degree. In the past, the exception was not viewed as the norm, but now USCIS is adjudicating as it is. To prove specialization, you and your team need to go further to prove why the job in question meets specialty occupation requirements despite the exceptions. You will need to provide a detailed breakdown of the duties and responsibilities of the job that highlight the ways in which specialized skills and knowledge are applied theoretically and practically. You will also need to show similar ads for the same job in similar companies in the industry to prove that a US bachelor’s degree or higher is the minimum requirement as a standard, as well as evidence of past employer hiring practices that show this minimum education requirement as a standard for this particular job. Along with this documentation, you will need to provide an expert opinion letter. This expert must have extensive field experience as USCIS has rejected opinion letters from instructors and professors in the field who have not worked directly in the field beyond instructing it. The expert will look over all of the documentation you have prepared for your RFE response and lend their opinion that this job does meet specialty occupation requirements. At TheDegreePeople.com we have the right experts on hand in every field, and our experienced staff can help you work through the jargon of even the most difficult RFEs as we work with them every year. USCIS approval trends change every year, and this challenge is no different. Start by going back to the basic eligibility requirements and work diligently from there. Remember, you only have 90 days from when you receive an RFE to respond to it. Time is of the essence and waiting until the last minute will just hurt your chances of success. For a free review of your case visit ccifree.com/We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.
  2. USCIS and employers have a different idea of what qualified an H-1B employee for their specialty occupation. It is commonplace for employers to hire a candidate with a degree in a field related to the position, given they have proper work experience to master the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to perform it. It has been years since USCIS has regularly approved H-1B cases in which a beneficiary has the required US Bachelor’s degree in a field RELATED to the specialty occupation. USCIS will not outright approve an H-1B visa unless the beneficiary has a degree in the exact specialization of the occupation, or a detailed credential evaluation that explains how their educational and field experience background makes the equivalent of the correct degree specialization. Every year, we have clients come to us in this situation. The way we overturn these RFEs is to write a detailed evaluation that analyzes the course content of the degree earned to highlight college credit hours earned in the exact field of the H-1B job. Then, we take progressive work experience into account to bridge the gap between the beneficiary’s education specialization and the field of the H-1B job. Three years of progressive work experience in the field of the H-1B job in which the beneficiary can prove they took on progressively more responsibility and the nature of their duties and tasks became increasingly complex and specialized can be converted into one year of college credit in the field of the H-1B job. This conversion must be written by a professor with the authority to grant college credit for work experience. At TheDegreePeople.com, we work with professors in all fields to write the work experience conversion for the credential evaluation you or your employee or client needs to get that RFE overturned. There are no cookie cutter solutions to H-1B RFEs because every case is different. Every job is different, and every educational pathway is different, especially when it comes to highly skilled individuals. All evaluations are uniquely researched and written with regards to your, or your employee or client’s education, job, work experience, and visa. For a free review of your case visit ccifree.com. We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.
  3. RFE season is now, and when CIS finds one problem with a petition, they tend to find more. Over the past few years, we have seen a common double RFE involving specialty occupation and education issues. H-1B eligibility rules state that to qualify for H-1B status the H-1B employee must hold a US Bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent in the exact field of the H-1B job. The job must be a specialty occupation, one that requires a minimum of the H-1B educational requirements for entry into the position. This job must involve theoretical and practical application of a specialized body of skills and knowledge as evidenced by the advanced degree. This double RFE calls into question whether the job meets specialty occupation requirements, and whether the H-1B beneficiary meets educational requirements. Some common issues on the job topic are when an occupation sometimes requires this advanced degree minimum qualification, or when the job is set at a low wage level. Some common issues on the topic of the beneficiary’s education are incomplete college, a degree earned outside of the United States – particularly the Indian three-year Bachelor’s degree, no college or a degree from an unaccredited institution, and having the right degree but in the wrong specialization. The first issue can be addressed with evidence showing past hiring practices, the ad for the job and similar jobs that show the minimum requirements meet H-1B specialty occupation requirements, a detailed breakdown of the duties of the job, and an expert opinion letter. This expert opinion letter validates that the job does require specialized knowledge and skill earned through the education required by H-1B statutes, and the expert must have expansive experience working in the field of the specialization, beyond instructing. The second issue can be addressed with the right credential evaluation that takes the job and the education into consideration, along with H-1B requirements, CIS approval trends, and any training that took place in a classroom setting or through progressive work experience in the field to fill in any gaps between the beneficiary’s education and H-1B job requirements. At TheDegreePeople.com, we have experts on hand in all fields ready to write the expert opinion letter CIS needs to get the RFE overturned. All of our experts have extensive work experience in the field. All of our credential evaluators have been trained to work with difficult RFEs and have expertise in international education and particular visa requirements. Every credential evaluation is uniquely researched. If you or your employee or client receives an RFE this summer, time is of the essence. Visit ccifree.com/ for a free review of your case and advisement of how to best proceed.
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