Getting a bachelor’s degree from outside the US and a job offer from a US employer may sometimes not enough to get your h1b visa approved by the USCIS. Applicants holding a foreign degree have to show their credential equivalency to that of a US bachelor’s degree.
Failing this requirement, USCIS will deem you as not eligible for the H1b program. Therefore, it becomes important for you to understand the equivalency criteria and make sure that you satisfy that before applying for an h1b visa.
This article will explore around H1b degree equivalency and what is three for one rule.
What is h1B degree equivalency?
One of the key requirements of H1b visas is that the applicant possesses a relevant US bachelorette degree or a foreign degree equivalent to the US bachelor’s degree.
The beneficiary’s bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for H1b occupation, and USCIS makes sure that if the beneficiary has obtained his bachelor’s degree from outside the US, its credentials are equivalent to that of a US degree. If you have a foreign degree, you may seek ‘H 1b Credential Evaluation’ that will determine your foreign degree equivalency with obtaining a degree in the US.
How will I obtain an H1b credential evaluation?
To obtain your H1b credential evaluation, it is necessary that your foreign degree is evaluated. The regulations 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(D)(2) states that the equivalency of foreign educational credentials to U.S. degree will be determined by one of the following:
- An evaluation of your degree equivalency from an official university employee who has authority to grant college-level credit for training and/or experience in the specialty at the recognized college or university which runs or has a program that grants such credit based on an individual’s training and/or work experience.
- The results of recognized college-level equivalency examinations or special credit programs, such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), or Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction (PONSI)
- An evaluation of your foreign education by a trustworthy credentials evaluation service that specializes in assessing foreign education credentials.
- You can show evidence of obtaining certification or registration from a nationally-recognized professional body or society for the specialty that is known to provide certification or registration to the persons in the occupational specialty who have attained a certain degree of competence in the specialty;
- A determination that the applicant has obtained equivalency of the degree required for specialty occupation through a combination of education, focused training, and/or work experience in the area of the specialty and that he has achieved recognition of being proficient in the area of specialty occupation through such education, training, and work experience.
What is three for one rule?
Generally, a 4-year bachelor’s degree from a recognized foreign university is considered equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree. Some countries like India offers certain bachelor’s program for a maximum period of 3 years.
This often creates a difficult situation for the applicant as his bachelor’s degree lacks equivalency with the US bachelor’s degree, and he may not be eligible to apply for H1b visas. In such cases, three to one rules come into play.
The 8 C.F.R. §214.2 (h)(4)(iii)(D)(5) is also known as the three-for-one rule. The rule states that
‘for purposes of determining equivalency to a baccalaureate degree in the specialty, three years of specialized training and/or work experience must be demonstrated for each year of college-level training the alien lacks.’
This means that if an applicant’s foreign education credentials lack equivalency to a US bachelor’s degree, then the applicant’s three years of training or work experience will be counted as one year of academic study in the specialty occupation field.
For example, Philip studied accounting from France for three years to obtain his bachelor’s degree. In his country, he is a qualified and complete accountant; however, his education is considered as three years of undergraduate study in the US. Philips is short of degree equivalency by 1 year of academic study, which he can reach if he has 3 years of experience in the specialty, either as a trainee or full work experience.
Suppose Philips already has 3 years of experience working in an accounting firm, what would be our advice to him?
If Philips has 3 years of education in accounting and, furthermore, three years of experience working with an accounting firm, we would advise Philips to take a credential evaluation, say with experts in the nationally recognized professional association.
The independent evaluator will check the education of the applicant and whether the work experience is relevant to the field of study or not. If they are satisfied that the work experience aligns with Philips’s line of education, the experts will determine that Philips has a US equivalent foreign bachelor’s degree in an accounting specialty occupation.
Some additional requirements to establish training or work experience as stated in 8 C.F.R. §214.2 (h)(4)(iii)(D)(5)
If the individual is holding a foreign degree and they wants to take advantage of three for one rule, they must demonstrate that:
- The individual’s training and/or work experience includes both theoretical and practical application of specialized knowledge required by the specialty occupation.
- That the work experience gained by the individual is obtained during the course of occupation with peers, supervisors, or subordinates who have a degree or its equivalent in the specialty occupation.
- That the foreign degree holder has recognized their expertise in the specialty occupation in any of the following forms of documents:
- Recognition by two recognized authorities in the same specialty occupation
- Documents showing that the foreign degree holder is a member of a recognized foreign or United States association or society in the specialty occupation.
- Evidence of published material by or about the individual in professional publications, trade journals, books, or major newspapers.
- Evidence showing that the individual has a license or registration to practice the specialty occupation in a foreign country.
- Individuals’ achievements in the field of specialty occupation that is deemed as a significant contribution in specialty occupation area by a recognized authority.
What does credential evaluation contain?
Typically, the credential evaluation contains a description of the beneficiary’s education credentials such as the bachelor’s degree awarded to him, name of the institution that awarded the degree, the year the degree was awarded, the major area of study during the bachelor’s program and a brief opinion of the evaluator whether the foreign degree is equivalent to obtaining a US bachelor’s degree.
The credential evaluation does not generally evaluate the beneficiary’s work experience in the specialty unless he/she is taking advantage of three for one rule.
Can individuals with no education after high school be eligible for an H1b visa because of three to one rule?
The USCIS regulations provide that if you show evidence of a level of competence, knowledge, and experience in the specialty occupation equivalent to that of a person with a US bachelor’s degree in the specialty, you may be eligible to apply for the visa.
It is hard to get your H1b visa if you do not have a bachelor’s degree because USCIS will heavily scrutinize your H1b application for your competence.
However, say if you have more than 12 years of experience in your area of occupation in the form of specialized training and working in the specialty, an expert such as a professor (who is a qualified evaluator) having specialized knowledge in the academic degree you want to show competence, in an accredited college or recognized university may evaluate your training and/or work experience in the specialty equivalent to 4 years of academic study in a bachelor’s program, you may submit such evaluation as a proof of your competence.
What about foreign degree equivalency for a master’s degree?
For H1b visas, 20,000 visas are allotted to individuals holding a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The equivalent clause is not often clear to H1b applicants. The 8 C.F.R. §214.2 (h)(4)(iii)(D)(5) defines that equivalence to an advanced degree(master’s degree), the applicant must have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience in the specialty.
How can Herman Legal Group help you?
Not fully sure whether your foreign education credentials are equivalent to the US bachelor’s degree. Let us put our skills to work for you. We can analyze your case, identify the available options, and help you decide the most effective way to help you land your H1b visa.
Wondering who we are? We are an award-winning immigration law firm founded in 1995 and provide comprehensive immigration services across different immigration areas: family, employment, investor, deportation defense, and citizenship. Contact Herman Legal Group and speak to our experienced immigration attorney by calling 1-216-696-6170 or by booking online. You can make consultations from any part of the world, and we are available across various online platforms such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facetime.
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