How do I prevent or answer a USCIS “First-Hand Knowledge” RFE?
The changing tides of immigration laws have brought with them a host of new requirements for the H-1B Visa application process. What’s more, as is almost always the case with new requirements, they have provided immigration authorities with new opportunities for objections and denials.
First-Hand Knowledge Issue
The objection is this: USCIS has been challenging how the expert writing the opinion letter gained his or her knowledge about a given position, knowledge leading to the conclusion that the position does qualify as a Specialty Occupation. USCIS believes “the [expert] reached this conclusion by relying on [the organization’s] description of the position rather than any specific study of the position at [the] organization” and wants to see evidence that “the [expert] visited [the] business, observed [the] employees, interviewed them about the nature of their work, [and] documented the knowledge that they apply on the job.” In simpler terms, USCIS feels that the expert writing the evaluation does not have a deep enough understanding of a position based solely on written documents because, hey, anyone can read a bunch of documents and get the gist of a job, right?
So how do we get around these objections and end up with fewer denials? We do exactly what USCIS asks us to do.
1. Phone Interview
Beginning in early 2018, Park Evaluations introduced a phone-based interview service connecting the expert writing the opinion letter with the petitioning organization to discuss the position in question. Through the combined efforts of our experts conducting these calls and our seasoned staff members, we remodeled and refined what was at first an occasional phone call into a well-developed interview service line. Recognizing how quickly this objection by USCIS was becoming a trend, Park Evaluations worked not only to develop a strong response, but to preemptively combat the likelihood of its appearance for our clients. We now offer several types of interviews to accommodate each type of expert opinion letter, connecting our experts with both the petitioning organization and the candidate via a phone call. These calls strengthen the expert’s argument, enabling him or her to gain in-depth, first-hand knowledge of the petitioning organization, the position in question, the requisite qualifications, and the specific credentials of a candidate beyond the information provided in supporting documents.
2. Virtual Visit
Park has not stopped innovating, however. Having addressed immigration’s challenge that the expert has not “interviewed them about the nature of their work, [and] documented the knowledge that they apply on the job,” we wanted to find a way to combat the other feature of USCIS’ objection: the lack of evidence that “the [expert] visited [the] business” and “observed [the] employees.” So began the Park Evaluations Virtual Visit service line, which connects the expert writing the opinion letter to the petitioning organization via a live, web-based, video conference call. This provides our experts with the unique opportunity not only to speak with representatives from the petitioner about the organization at large and the position in question, but also to participate in a virtual tour of the organization and observe an employee in the particular role perform the duties of the position in real time.
When it comes to the specific challenge of how the expert writing the opinion letter gained his or her knowledge, Park Evaluations’ Interview and Virtual Visit services will continue to improve and expand in order to meet head on all current and future difficulties faced by H-1B Visa applicants. Reach out to [email protected] or give us a call at 212-581-8877 if you have any additional questions about the services.