One of the requirements for EB2 NIW green card is to have an advanced degree. In some cases, this can be substituted by other achievements such as experience or extraordinary abilities (check out this post to learn about all the requirements).
Many petitioners hold MS or PhD degrees from non US countries. Regardless of the language spoken in those countries, an education credential evaluation is needed to show USCIS that your foreign degree is equivalent to a US degree.
What is a Evaluation of Education Credentials for EB2 NIW?
A credentials evaluation is a report by an acceptable evaluation agency that establishes the equivalency between a foreign college/university education degree and a US degree. Generally speaking, this type of report may be needed for the following instances:
- Acceptance to education institutions
- Professional certifications or licenses
- Immigration processes
The USCIS take on Evaluation of Education Credentials for EB2 NIW
It is always a great idea to go to the official source and check what the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency says about this type of report to understand the characteristics of what we need to obtain. The best resource to check in this case is the USCIS Policy Manual (Volume 6, Chapter 9) to understand what they expect.
These are the main takeaways from the official USCIS information about foreign degree equivalency reports:
- USCIS does not endorse any particular credential equivalency evaluation agency
- USCIS accepts reports from certain school officials
- Reports should provide analysis and not only conclusions
- Equivalency reports are advisory only – the USCIS officer has the last word!
Where can you get a credential evaluation for your foreign degree?
As shown previously, USCIS does not provide a list or recommend any particular agency. In my personal case, I did not have to use one because my highest degree is from an American university. Therefore, I am unable to make a personal recommendation. However, from my exposure to the EB2 NIW community I can tell that World Education Services (WES) and International Education Evaluations (IEE) are two widely used organizations. A good way to find more options is to look inside the list of agencies that belong to the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES), a reputable American society that accepts evaluation agencies that meet certain standards.
What type of evaluation is needed for EB2 NIW?
A green card petitioner needs an evaluation of their highest academic degree relevant to the application. Even though one can opt for a detailed course-by-course description, all that is needed is a general evaluation that establishes what US degree is comparable to the foreign degree.
How to compare agencies and choose the right one for you
The two main factors: cost and time
The main two factors that I would consider when choosing an agency are cost and timeline. However, we will see that there are other factors to consider as well. In terms of cost, the two most popular agencies charge between $80 and $110 (as of late 2022) for the evaluation package that is enough for EB2 NIW application purposes.
Other factors: what documentation is requested by the evaluator
Beyond time and money, the documents required by the evaluators can also play a role in your decision. For example, one may accept copies of your transcripts and diploma, while another one may ask you for the originals, or even to send the transcripts from the university in a sealed envelope. In addition, some agencies may accept your documents in their original foreign language, while others may request the documents AND an accurate translation to English.
As you can see, this type of consideration can influence the organization you want to choose especially if the costs and timelines are not so different. To facilitate your decision, here is the link to IEE’s documentation requirements, and here is the same for WES. For other agencies, please check their website or contact them to ask for this information.
Foreign degree evaluation for EB2 NIW: Conclusions
Evaluation of the highest degree (if foreign) is a must for EB2 NIW green card applications. While USCIS has some official guidelines in their Policy Manual, they do not endorse any particular evaluation agency. In this article, we review what type of evaluation you will need and what factors you may consider to pick a good evaluation institution.