How to Get a Credential Evaluation When Applying for a Green Card

How to establish U.S. equivalency for a foreign education transcript under the public charge rule

Why do you need a credential evaluation for your foreign transcript or degree?

When applying for a green card, applicants need to provide evidence of their educational background, in the form of academic transcripts or degrees. But education systems differ between countries, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) officers need a way to know how your foreign education compares to U.S. educational standards.

Green card applicants are required to have any foreign degrees or transcripts evaluated by a certifying body to determine the U.S. equivalency of these documents.

The requirement is relatively new. Since the public charge rule went into effect in Feb. 2020, green card applicants face significant extra scrutiny of their income and their ability to financially support themselves. USCIS judges applications based on a stricter set of criteria, including education level. If an applicant lacks a high school diploma or higher education degree, an immigration officer must mark this as a “negative factor,” increasing an applicant’s risk of having their application denied.

IMPORTANT UPDATE — MARCH 9, 2021: Both the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge rule and the Department of State (DOS) public charge policy are currently not in effect. The DHS rule was halted on March 9, 2021, while the DOS policy was paused indefinitely on July 29, 2020. This page reflects those policies, which initially took effect on Feb. 24, 2020, and will not be immediately updated according to the previous, longstanding guidance issued in 1999. Learn more.

That means it’s vital to have your education documents evaluated by a credible company to lower the risk of your green card application getting denied.

In this guide we’ll cover:

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What is a credential evaluation?

A credential evaluation is a report that shows how your foreign academic credentials compare with the U.S. education system. It is used when applying for a green card and certain other visas, as well college admission and employment in the United States. You submit your degrees, transcripts or licenses to a credential evaluator who will determine U.S. equivalency.

Credential evaluators typically offer 2 options when evaluating your non-U.S. degree: A general evaluation, which includes the U.S. equivalent of your studies, or a course-by-course evaluation, which includes a U.S. equivalent grade for each course. Note that USCIS has not specified which evaluation is required as part of your green card application, so a general evaluation should suffice.

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Why do you need a credential evaluation?

If you’re applying for a green card, USCIS requires that you provide proof of educational equivalency. Credential evaluation helps immigration officers understand your educational background and how your diploma or degree compares in the United States.

Supplying evidence that you have a higher level of education beyond a high school degree demonstrates to USCIS that you are qualified to work in a job that will meet the income requirements set out in the public charge rule.

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What does a credential evaluation contain?

Credential evaluation documents typically contain:

  • The applicant’s name
  • Their home country
  • Overview of the education system in the applicant’s home country
  • The evaluation itself, which includes the program length, the year of completion, the issuing institution, and the U.S. equivalency of the degree or transcript.
  • The evaluation company’s credentials
  • The evaluator’s signature

A credential evaluation for a green card application
A sample credential evaluation (credit: International Education Evaluations)

Boundless prints out all your forms and documents, assembled precisely how the government prefers. We mail the whole package to your doorstep, ready for you to sign and send to the correct government address. Ready to start?

What documents need to be evaluated?

Green card applicants must indicate on their application whether they graduated high school and whether they earned a higher degree. USCIS requires applicants to provide evidence, if available, of all degrees or certifications received, including:

  • Transcripts
  • Diplomas
  • Degrees
  • Trade profession certificates

These documents all need to include an evaluation of equivalency.

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Where can I get a credential evaluation?

When seeking a credential evaluation, make sure you choose an accredited evaluator. For a list of companies that provide credential evaluations, visit the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES), a non-profit that accredits evaluation companies.

Preferred credential evaluation provider

IEE logo

Boundless has partnered with International Educations Evaluations, Inc. (IEE) to create a custom page for Boundless customers getting their foreign credential evaluations.

Note: We may earn a referral fee if you decide to purchase a product or service after clicking a link to a listed provider.

For over 30 years, IEE has provided foreign credential evaluations to individuals and businesses with immigration, admissions, job searches and professional licensure needs. They are a NACES member.

This page focuses on the credential evaluation needs pertaining to immigration, making the process to purchase foreign credential evaluations process simple, fast, and all digital.

Instead of having to research different companies and figure out what type of foreign credential evaluation is needed, Boundless customers can go to

IMPORTANT: The standard processing time is 10 business days after you have submitted your education documents to IEE.

Common Questions

Can I use my unofficial transcript, or do I need to obtain my official school transcripts?

USCIS does not specify whether or not applicants need to use official or unofficial transcripts, so either option is likely acceptable.

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