If you’re new to the United States and you’re applying to college or applying for a job, chances are you’ll be asked to present your credentials. If you’re in the process of obtaining a temporary work visa (such as the H1B), chances are you’ll have to present your diploma and/or college transcripts to ensure that your degree meets USCIS requirements. Upon hearing this, you then contact a translation provider and ask what it would cost to translate your diploma and college transcript from your native language into English. 

But you may need more than just translation. You may also need an evaluation service to compare the content of your foreign diploma or transcript. The reason is that your current credits must be applicable to the degree you want to pursue, or they must fulfill the requirements of the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an H1B visa, you’ll have to demonstrate that you hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher. In order for the university, the employer or immigration officials to get a clear idea of your credentials, you need to have them professionally evaluated. 

Although the current immigration landscape has brought about new challenges, foreign students still arrive on U.S. soil seeking an education, and many will eventually want the ability to stay and work in the United States, whether temporarily or otherwise. According to the PEW Research Center (PRC), as of 2017 the United States had more foreign students than any other country in the world. PRC also tells us that more than 1.6 million H1B visas were issued between 2007 and 2017. In 2017, the H1B visa accounted for 23% of all temporary employment visas issued. And this is just part of the picture: there are many other types of visas, and you can get much more information from a good immigration attorney (ask me; I know lots of them!).

At TransForma we regularly hear from people asking us for a certified translation of their diplomas or college transcripts. Because the requester often doesn’t know the difference between translation and evaluation, they’ll ask for a translation, which we will provide. Then we’ll get a second phone call because they were told they need more, and we’ll refer them to World Education Services or tell them to do an online search for some additional options. TransForma doesn’t provide evaluation of credentials.

Generally speaking, an evaluation service will provide these reports:

  1. Basic evaluation. This is a statement of comparability that includes a list of each credential with the U.S. equivalent, and a recognition of the educational institution awarding the credentials.
  2. Course-by-course evaluation. This includes the above, plus a list of each course studied, the grade on the transcript, a suggested U.S. grade, and suggested credit hours.

So, how do you know whether you need translation or evaluation? You will probably need both. When talking to the requester, ask exactly what they require and don’t assume that a translation and an evaluation are the same things. This can save you a step, as often the evaluation services will also offer translation and you don’t have to call two different places.

TransForma loves the language services business and we love helping those who need help with translation, interpreting, and the many other services we offer from/to any language. But at times, we’re asked for things that we don’t provide, such as academic evaluation. When we can’t help you with what you need, we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. We believe that what goes around comes around, and we’ve had our share of good fortune. So we’re happy to pay it forward.

Carmen Hiers is founder and managing partner of TransForma Translation Services. Get a free quote on your translation project today at request@transformaonline.com or call 305-722-3827.