RFE? Whose Fault Was That?


RFEs happen. In fact, visa petitions across the board are receiving more RFEs than ever. The first step to answering an RFE is figuring out who dropped the ball, what is missing, and what missing evidence – if any – is required to meet the visa eligibility requirements.

Finding out who is at fault when an RFE arrives is NOT about pointing fingers and casting blame. In fact, changing up your team at this stage of the process may be unwise even if someone did make a mistake. It could be the candidate, the attorney, the evaluator, CIS, or even no one. Find out what happened and remain solution-oriented, even though RFEs are stressful.

Sometimes it’s no one on your team’s fault

CIS makes mistakes. Some RFEs are simply incorrect. The petition could be spotless, in order, and filed on time and CIS may still send you back an RFE. These are quick fixes because no one on your team is at fault, and there is nothing missing in the petition to address. Everything needed to answer the RFE is there already.

Sometimes its no one’s fault. This is common because CIS approval trends change with every filing and policies around immigration are especially volatile in the current political climate. The best you can do is build a team that follows CIS approval trends and immigration policy. Working with credential evaluators who commonly work with RFEs for your visa, or your employee or client’s particular visa is a great way to make sure the information you are getting is as current as possible. Evaluators who work with RFEs know what triggers them and how to address them effectively, which is not always straightforward. Different visas have different nuances when it comes to what CIS will approve and what they will not. Make sure your team understands that all visas are different and trends change from year to year.

It’s sometimes the candidate’s fault.

Sometimes candidates will provide poorly translated or evaluated educational documents. Sometimes a candidate’s education is from an unaccredited institution. Sometimes candidates mistake or misrepresent a high school diploma for a college degree.

Sometimes the attorney is to blame.

Every once in a while an attorney will file the petition incorrectly, but when the attorney is at fault, it’s usually for the same reason candidates are to blame: poorly translated and evaluated documents.

All of these things happen and most of them can be prevented by working with a skilled foreign credential evaluator from the beginning. These evaluators can identify translations that result in misrepresented academic value. Many degrees do not have a direct English translation, or the translation directly translates into a word that indicates a completely different academic value. Now, some translation agencies are setting up as a one-stop shop for translation and evaluation of transcripts. This has made the problem worse because translation is a very different process than evaluation, which requires highly specialized understanding of international education, CIS approval trends, federal case law, and even international trade agreements.

Sometimes the evaluation or the evaluator is to blame.

It’s not always the evaluator’s fault for the evaluation being to blame. Sometimes, the credential evaluator does get it wrong – like missing an unaccredited institution or academic value that got lost in translation. However, it’s usually just that the evaluation was accurate but not the one needed to meet the particular visa’s requirements.

Every visa has different educational requirements. Every job requires a different degree specialization. CIS approval trends are different from how employers decide to hire clients, and it’s the job of the evaluation to fill in those gaps in accordance with particular equivalency guidelines of each visa. Different visas allow different combinations and conversions to meet equivalency requirements. If your credential evaluator does not ask about your or your employee or client’s job or visa, find a different evaluator because these factors are ESSENTIAL to writing the right evaluation for the visa.

About The Author

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI, TheDegreePeople.com, a foreign credentials evaluation agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.