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What should I do if I am applying for an employment visa, but my academic records are from overseas?

To qualify for an H1-B visa, an employer petitioner must establish that the beneficiary of the visa has earned either a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. If the beneficiary does not have a U.S. degree, a credentials evaluation can show the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that adjudicates the beneficiary’s application, that the beneficiary’s foreign education and experience meets this requirement. Certain companies specialize in providing these evaluation services. These companies evaluate foreign degrees, transcripts, and work experience, and convert the information into its U.S. equivalency. USCIS will only accept a credentials evaluation from a service that specializes in assessing foreign credentials and experience.

A credentials evaluation is not always required by USCIS, but it is highly recommended. Without a credentials evaluation, USCIS will independently evaluate a beneficiary’s records. If the agency does not believe the requirements have been met, it will either request additional evidence to show that the beneficiary has the equivalency of a U.S. bachelor’s degree, or deny the application. A credentials evaluation not only determines whether a beneficiary qualifies before USCIS adjudicates the application, but the company providing the service will usually cooperate with USCIS in the event the agency disagrees with any part of its assessment or requires more information to reach a decision.

Credentials evaluations can consist of more than just degrees and transcripts. In some cases, work experience can satisfy all or part of the U.S. bachelor’s degree requirement. Generally, three years of work experience is the equivalent of one year of U.S. education at the bachelor’s level, and five years of work experience is the equivalent of one year of U.S. education at the master’s level. A credentials evaluating service will charge different rates depending on the type of evaluation required and the occupation of the beneficiary.

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