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EU Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Program Individual Fellowships (IF) Tips

Updated on July 12, 2017

Fellowship Overview

So, you want to get money from the European Commission (EU) by applying for one of the Marie Curie schemes, but you need expert advice. I have been working as an independent expert evaluating these schemes for over 10 years, so I should be able to help you. You can also use the comments section below to get help from your peers.

If you need professional help for your project, feel free to contact me using the "contact author" button and I will reply with my email address.

All three schemes (IEF, IOF, IIF) have similar criteria, which are given at the end of this article along with my explanations as to what you have to write in order to meet these criteria. I also explain some of the important, mostly misunderstood, sub-criteria to help you understand exactly what the Commission wants. In addition, I have included a table for scores at the end of the text, submitted by unverified users so people will have an idea on approximate scores.

But first, what's different about the three schemes is their objectives. If you want to write a successful proposal, you have to write it according to these objectives, and modify it to fit these objectives exactly.

Objective of the Three Schemes

IEF: The objectives of the IEF scheme aim for these Fellowships to allow the most promising researchers from EU and Associated Countries to undertake training through research in the European organizations most appropriate to their individual needs. The researchers may freely choose the topic in collaboration with the host, with a view to completing or diversifying his/her expertise. The IEF action is aimed at experienced researchers and hopes to respond to their particular needs. Its intention is to help researchers add different/complementary scientific competencies in the process of reaching and/or reinforcing a position of professional maturity and independence (e.g. advanced training in multi-disciplinary fields, advanced training related to an interdisciplinary transfer, intersectoral experiences at senior level), or to permit them to resume their career.

This means that if the researcher was pregnant, or had to leave science for a career in industry, but wants to come back to science, that's a priority researcher according to the objectives. The action permits the researchers to undertake transnational mobility in the European organisations most appropriate to their individual needs, directed towards competence diversification, without providing merely a subsequent step to continue their work in the same research field. In other words, the proposed project should be something that diversifies the career of the researcher.

IOF: The IOF scheme Fellowships are awarded to researchers from EU and Associated Countries to work in established third country research centers, thereby widening their international experience in research. This scheme requires the submission of a coherent individual training program, involving a first phase abroad, followed by a mandatory second phase in Europe. This action, open towards the rest of the world, aims to respond to the need for reinforcing the international dimension of the careers of European researchers by giving them the opportunity to be trained and acquire new knowledge in a world level third country research organization, and then to apply the experience gained in an organization in a Member State or Associated States.

IIF: And finally, the IIF scheme Fellowships aim to attract top-class researchers from third countries to work and undertake research training in Europe, with the view to developing mutually-beneficial research co-operation between Europe and third countries. In the case of emerging and transition economies and developing countries, the scheme may include provisions to assist fellows to return to their country of origin. This action reinforces the scientific excellence of the Member States and the Associated States thanks to the application of the knowledge thus transferred during this period of mobility. Additionally, this will also constitute a springboard for the future development of relations between the Member States or Associated States and the third countries.

All of the schemes have to be relevant to one or more of the specific objectives of the action. Potential for acquiring competencies during the fellowship to improve the prospects of reaching and/or reinforcing a position of professional maturity, diversity and independence, in particular through exposure to complementary skills training is important. The proposal should emphasize contribution to career development or re-establishment where relevant.

For international fellowships, potential for creating long term collaborations and mutually beneficial co-operation between Europe and the third country should be emphasized.
For incoming fellowships, contribution to the socio-economic development of the Developing Countries or emerging and transition economies by transfer of knowledge and human capacity building (where appropriate) should be written in detail. The extent to which the research contributes to the objectives of the European Research Area or other European policy objectives are very important as this section makes up a high percentage of the total score.

Below are the criteria I mentioned at the top of the article.

Criteria Weighting Threshold

In all the criteria, telling a story will help you succeed. Stating facts can easily be accomplished by using tables. One other thing is that you need to answer these sub-criteria with project specific answers, as opposed to using generic sentences.

1. Scientific Quality of the Project 25% (Threshold 3)

In this criterion, it is important to mention interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary aspects of the proposal and emphasize how it is multidisciplinary with convincing arguments. The proposer should explain why the proposed research is timely, in other words, why it must be done now. This section needs to explain how the host has sufficient scientific expertise in this specific field and should prove that the host is very high quality. This can be done by mentioning publications, patents etc. Publications in journals like Science and Nature are major boosts. This section has a high percentage of the weighted score, so it is important to spend a good amount of time and attention on it.

2. Quality of Research Training 15% (Threshold 3)

This section should convince the expert reviewer that the fellow knows what he is going to learn, and is aware of the learning objectives. Complementary skills must be mentioned here. These are things like grant writing, paper writing, presentation skills, etc. You have to show that the host scientists have plenty of experience in training graduate students, including post docs. Percentage of this section is low, but a score lower than the threshold will fail your proposal, so be sure to address all the sub-criteria here carefully.

3. Quality of the Researcher 25% (Threshold 4)

The fellow must convince the experts that he/she has sufficient experience in the subject. This can be accomplished by mentioning his/her accomplishments up to this point in his/her career. This is followed by the most important sub-criterion in this section: research results including publications, teaching, and patents. I am not going to sugarcoat it, it is a major boost to your proposal if you have a high number of publications in high quality journals. This depends on your level of experience, so if you have been in science for 10 years, then you must have more publications compared to someone who has been in science for two years. This is quite important and may increase or decrease your points.

You have to write something specific about yourself that indicates that you have independent thinking and leadership qualities. This can be accomplished by telling a story on how you did something by yourself, or how you lead students or some other group. In short, anything that will convince the experts that you have independent thinking and leadership qualities will do.

Additionally, your profile needs to match the project, but this does not mean that you should do the exact same thing as your masters or Ph.D. You need to diversify your subject, yet it should fit your profile. If the project is a subsequent step in your career, that's bad.

The project should provide you with the potential to reach a position of professional maturity. In other words, if you are one step away from professional maturity and this project will provide you with that ability, that's great. This could be by providing you with something that will complement your knowledge so that you will gain independence, for example. You also have to write something regarding your potential to acquire new knowledge, to illustrate that you will learn and gain new knowledge by completing this project.

4. Implementation 15%

This section has to illustrate the host's infrastructure and international collaborations. You have to write how you can accomplish the proposed research using the host's facilities and if they are enough. It is usually a bad idea to write that you will do only part of the research with the host and will have to go somewhere else to perform some other part of the research.

Also consider these questions in this section:

  • What will the host do to make you feel at home?
  • Will you have visa or other legal problems or will they take care of that?
  • What are other practical arrangements?

Important Note: You must include a GANTT Chart here. This is a very important step that a lot of people leave out in their work plan.

5. Impact 20%

This section used to have the highest percentage in earlier years, and it is still high with 20 percent. You must also include complementary skills here in addition to the training section. You have to illustrate your potential for reaching a position of professional maturity, diversity, and independence. How will you be trained in complementary skills, and how will it help you in professional maturity and independence?

Writing about contribution to career development is required and it is very important, as I mentioned at the top of the article. If you left science and want to come back, the European Commission wants you back! This aspect should increase your chances significantly. If this project will make a significant contribution to your career, that's great also.

Contribution to European excellence and European competitiveness must be convincingly illustrated and must be specific to your project. In other words, don't fill it out with generic sentences.

2010 Scores As Submitted By Unverified Users

(click column header to sort results)
Call  
Panel  
List  
Nick  
Score  
IEF
ENV
B
REALIST
88.6
IEF
ENV
B
Nano
88.8
IEF
ENV
B (9th)
JW
88.5
IEF
ENV
C
LEO
85.0
IEF
ENV
B
R1
88.2
IEF
ENV
B (cutoff)
Granada
88.9
IOF
ENV
B
C
90.9
IEF
ENV
C
Hilly Billy
88.0
IEF
SOC
B
ra
89.2
IEF
SOC
B
Rob
89.90
IEF
SOC
B
Tom
89.2
IEF
SOC
B
nara
88.9
IEF
SOC
B
fingerscrossed
89.90
IEF
SOC
B
afg
89.40
IEF
SOC
B
ozon
88.80
IEF
SOC
B
Trowel
88.50
IEF
LIFE
B (41st/46)
MD
87.7
IIF
PHY
B
Roman-br
88.5
IIF
CHE
B
sansun
90.5
IOF
LIFE
B
MelenudoPorElMundo
88.40
IOF
CHE
B
RobbieG
91.1
This information is submitted by unverified users and it is intended to give an idea of the list of 2010 only, and cannot be used for legal purposes.

Comments

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    • profile image

      alok 8 weeks ago

      Hi - Can someone share the link for detailed documents to apply for IIF -2017 scheme?

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      Godot 2 months ago

      Congrats IF-Physics. Good to know at least some people have been called up. I was thinking the people who are called are less likely to post here rather than those of us still waiting, so very considerate of you to let us know. Hard to know if it is good news or bad news or means anything at all for us still waiting. Cannot see the benefit of the process being so un transparent.

    • profile image

      Just waiting 2 months ago

      "if-physics", congrats. Thank you for letting us know that the process of inviting proposals from the reserve list has started.

    • profile image

      Mark 2 months ago

      tnx u a lot if-physics. which one you have been on waiting list?

    • profile image

      if-physics 2 months ago

      I just got the email that my waitlisted proposal has been invited - good luck!

    • profile image

      Just waiting 2 months ago

      Maybe no reserve list this year. I just googled to see how long it took for the Commission to start inviting proposals in the past. Never this late.

    • profile image

      Just waiting 2 months ago

      No news. What's most troubling is there is no place we can inquire and get an update. So, it seems we will hear when we hear.

    • profile image

      Mark 2 months ago

      I am also on the reseve list, but I have no info.

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      Godot 2 months ago

      So May is over, has anyone on the reserve list received an offer? I am reserved on ENV-IF panel and heard nothing.

    • profile image

      Godot 2 months ago

      It seemed much more transparent under the old "people" scheme. I agree with it being soul destroying. Waiting with no idea where in the process your application might be is not good for your mental health, especially in today's research environment.

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      Just waiting 3 months ago

      Not yet. REA must have concluded grant agreements with proposals retained for funding. More than three months passed since the announcement of results. MarieCurie Facebook page also declared that REA would tap into the reserve list in May. Waiting is a soul destroying process, and there is no update.

    • profile image

      Godot 3 months ago

      Anyone heard anything on reserve list?

    • profile image

      Mark 3 months ago

      Anybody from the reserve list, chemistry panel? any news?

    • profile image

      MC-reserve 4 months ago

      Has anybody from the reserve list already been contacted? So far I think there are no news on the Seal of Excellence.

    • profile image

      AlmostThere 4 months ago

      Any news on the seal of Excellence?

    • profile image

      LazyAnna 6 months ago

      I am going to apply this year, and by reading those comments I figured I am in for a lot of work. Then again, probably it's a good thing I started looking already now. Any advice is appreciated. PS. I tried looking up the other forum suggested, and it doesn't work.

    • profile image

      .... 6 months ago

      95.2, LIF, got it

    • profile image

      Shape33 6 months ago

      I am on reserve list (ST CHE) with a mark of 90.8. From the very limited information that that I can find, I think my chances are extremely low.

      The NCP did not give me any information because it is confidential they said.

    • profile image

      SK 6 months ago

      Is there any information on when the Seals of Excellence will be sent ?

    • profile image

      Damian 6 months ago

      For the 2015 call a total of 50 proposals were on the GF reserve list. It seems that 3 of these projects were funded (I guess because funding became available).

    • profile image

      Damian 6 months ago

      For those on the reserve list, you can contact your national contact point, and find out how many are on your list and where you are placed. For example, for the GF-ENG proposals, 16 proposal are on the main list, and 5 proposals are on the reserve list.

    • profile image

      renakre 6 months ago

      EF-ENG 91 IN RESERVE LIST

    • profile image

      DC 6 months ago

      93 SOC got it (vs 91.4 on the reserve list last year)

    • profile image

      AS 6 months ago

      Is there any information on when the Seals of Excellence will be sent around? Thank you

    • profile image

      fish 6 months ago

      91.9 LIF reserve list :(

    • profile image

      Mercatio 6 months ago

      92% LIF reserve list ... :(

    • profile image

      6 months ago

      93% GF SOC - didn't get it.

      The weaknesses I got were so vague I don't see how they can even be addressed.

    • profile image

      Damian 6 months ago

      93.6 GF-ENG on the reserve list.

    • profile image

      Wotuer 6 months ago

      91.4% LIF reserve list... People who got it, what was your score?

    • profile image

      ad 6 months ago

      91.6 ENG reserve list.

      Can anyone refer to a website to check for cutoff thresholds for funding?

    • profile image

      francif 6 months ago

      still nothing in the personal page.... :-( just the proposal

    • profile image

      pgl 6 months ago

      Prakash, Is it too much to ask that you send the proposal private? That way you learn!

      Thanks

      (lustemberg@gmail.com)

    • profile image

      Env-gf 6 months ago

      92 reserve list-gf

    • profile image

      Prakash 6 months ago

      I scored 94.2 IIF_Chemistry

    • profile image

      Prakash 6 months ago

      Wow...I got it..Chemistry

    • profile image

      6 months ago

      The silence before the storm

    • profile image

      Lala 6 months ago

      Guys! any update?

    • profile image

      Lala 6 months ago

      Hey guys!

      Come back!!

      We were having so much fun...

    • profile image

      greg 6 months ago

      In my opinion, contact doesnt mean anything. The only obvious clue is..

      Evaluation = rejected

      Ranking main list =funded

      Reserved = reserved

      This is very obvious since at the beginning.

    • profile image

      ENV-GF-US 6 months ago

      I registered to the new forum and will contribute there from now on. I invite you to do the same. Thank you @MC_IF!

      https://mcforumadmin.discussion.community/post/h20...

      The discussion continues...

    • profile image

      IF-ENV 6 months ago

      @just a thought

      Very few people saw the details through the "sites"...

      Most of the people don't even see this blog and many others chose not to follow the links...

    • profile image

      just a thought 6 months ago

      I was wondering, why get into the trouble and hide the details after we have seen them already? Do they have something to hide???

    • profile image

      EDM VDM 6 months ago

      @ IF-ENV

      it is not necessary to have facebook... you just have to register to the forum..

    • profile image

      IF-ENV 6 months ago

      Not everyone has Facebook..

    • profile image

      NK-MSCA 6 months ago

      I just saw the conversation! Can you please tell me where exactly I could find that link with the "results"? In my portal I can't see anything. Good luck to everyone.

    • profile image

      MC_IF 6 months ago

      please register in this forum and continue, we can develop that into an active platform

      https://mcforumadmin.discussion.community/post/h20...

    • profile image

      EDM VDM 6 months ago

      research gate is a good idea or linkedin?

    • profile image

      LordX 6 months ago

      @EDM VDM

      I'm referring to the new clue is with service maintenance notice in response to @FF

      @ENV-GF-US

      your idea is good, if we decide something I will participe

    • profile image

      KK 6 months ago

      I think few people here (not just talking about lala) are from MSCA-IT team, who is regularly following this conversation.

    • profile image

      ENV-GF-US 6 months ago

      I do not know. But at least a forum requires a registration and there are moderators. We could also have some sort of private chat and some subtopics where future applicants can find redundant information as well as support from previous fellows. Anyway that is just a suggestion and I have no clue on what type of plateform or forum system would do a better job...

    • profile image

      IF-ENV 6 months ago

      Maybe through research gate...

    • profile image

      VI 6 months ago

    • profile image

      VI 6 months ago

    • profile image

      EDM VDM 6 months ago

      @ ENV-GF-US

      I agree with you but how we will know or undestand which post is fake??

      For example lala!! is it possible to post a person that, according to him/her, he didnt catch the deadline??

    • profile image

      ENV-GF-US 6 months ago

      Dear all,

      This chat isbreally ugly with ads, fake posts by anonymous people not concerned by our topic, and so on.

      Should we consider (maybe not now) moving to another platform, better structured? Any suggestions?

    • profile image

      ENV-GF-US 6 months ago

      Does anyone of you also have issue to access the previous proposals of past years through the "FO" button on the portal? It seems they temporarily restricted access to past MSCAs.

      The maintenance message is on the My Project(s) page. Some were saying they cannot see it because they (think they) are out. Not the case.

    • profile image

      CAR-ov 6 months ago

      I cannot see any maintenance message. Last RANKING status: "Main list"

    • profile image

      EDM VDM 6 months ago

      @ lordx

      What do you mean with "i see the message"?

      The known link or something else?

    • profile image

      blame me 6 months ago

      Oh no, I submitted after the deadline...Do you think that's why results are not out yet???

    • profile image

      MDV 6 months ago

      I think lala should see a psychologist. He is not going forward and I feel some narcissism too. Classical among young people these days. Maybe he could try and get some interested in scientists who believed in god, like Einstein, who also played violin.

    • profile image

      MdV 6 months ago

      @Francif

      sure you are right, but at the same time at some point one has to commit in some sense. I think standing there forever with one's proposal leads to some sort of narcissic relation, and clearly this is not appropriate.

      that being said i also did upload my application the day before the deadline...

      @lala

      still, three weeks, that's quite a lot !

    • profile image

      mdv 6 months ago

      @Francif

      sure you are right, but at the same time at some point one has to commit in some sense. I think standing there forever with one's proposal leads to some sort of narcissic relation, and clearly this is not appropriate.

      that being said i also did upload my application the day before the deadline...

      @lala

      still, three weeks, that's quite a lot !

    • profile image

      IF-ENV 6 months ago

      @lala

      What do you meen?

      You didn't make it to the deadline?

    • profile image

      KK 6 months ago

      Does that mean, the new clue is with service maintenance notice ?

      those who have it got funded and the rest not ?

    • profile image

      KK 6 months ago

      I cant see the site maintenance notice under my projects. Did you guys see it ?

      @Gr soc uk ""And now the contacts are gone!!"" , is it not there any more ?

    • profile image

      Francif 6 months ago

      @lala

      What does it mean???the deadline is the deadline...you can submit until a second before the given time...

      I do not get your point...

    • profile image

      To conclude 6 months ago

      @ENV-GF-US

      you're right. They are reading as

      a) They hide status

      b) They changed finished to false (if you had true)

      c) Now, they hide contact info

      to conclude: IT team never will get MSCA because they are not excellents, they work according to our posts here!

    • profile image

      Lala 6 months ago

      Are you guys sure that you really made all the administrative forms properly? Because we have to be very rigorous in this matter. People should always send their forms at least 3 weeks before the deadlines. I don't understant that some people wait for the last moment to do things. It's so important. I'm sad now.

    • profile image

      LdV 6 months ago

      @jeangeorge

      The wait is crazy! at least I will soon be in the nice mountains to forget all about this stress

    • profile image

      algae 6 months ago

      ...annnnndd.... the 'informed by feb 14th' has disappeared from my follow up. i have not checked the linked link because it would drive me crazy, but I don't like that they removed the '14 feb'thing, it feels like bad luck :p. anyways. do something nice with your evening, guys! Soon, we will know!

    • profile image

      oll 6 months ago

      @also waiting

      Life needs hopes to continue, right?

    • profile image

      6 months ago

      Every time there is a maintenance notification (every other day) people say it's because the results will be released. So don't count on it.

    • profile image

      Gr soc uk 6 months ago

      But it cannot be the way they do it. Possibly they will prepare the grant agreements but not move proposals to projects.

      Is it possible that they just send us the results without having put on the website a notification of when results are expected like they did last year?

    • profile image

      also waiting 6 months ago

      @oll

      its not the first time they are having maintenance

    • profile image

      LdV 6 months ago

      @aming

      It's very stressful guys&girls... Let's hope this ends up well for many of us!!

    • profile image

      oll 6 months ago

      @EDM VDM

      In their system, funded proposal will be moved from proposal section to project section. I think it will be the reason of the project section will be maintained tomorrow morning 07:45- 08:10.

    • profile image

      clawsoc 6 months ago

      @EDM VDM

      The notice appears in the "My Project(s)" page.

    • profile image

      also waiting 6 months ago

      @oll

      why is that so obvious?

    • profile image

      EDM VDM 6 months ago

      @ oll

      why you say this?? is there any announcement for tomorrow 08:10 (CET) ?

    • profile image

      EF 6 months ago

      The Participant Portal Grant Management Service will be under maintenance on Wednesday, 25th of January between 07:45 and 08:10 (CET). During this period users may encounter problems in accessing projects.

      We are sorry for any inconvenience this might cause.

    • profile image

      oll 6 months ago

      Obviously after tomorrow 08:10 (CET) everything will be crystal clear. Funded proposal(s) will move into project(s) section.

    • profile image

      ENV-IF 6 months ago

      I see a 15 minute maintenance on the portal...

      Could it be the results?

      Waiting is the worst thing in the world...

    • profile image

      also waiting 6 months ago

      @GF-SOC-DN

      14-th of february is also "very soon" :) As long as they cannot provide an exact date, it seems that this very soon is not really that soon :)))))

    • profile image

      KG 6 months ago

      You are right @ENV-GF-US

    • profile image

      clawsoc 6 months ago

      @ENV-GF-US

      I was going to ask whether you guys still see the officers' IDs after the system maintenance. Then I saw your post. Thanks for your answer.

      Yes, waiting for their official results is unbearable! :(

    • profile image

      ENV-GF-US 6 months ago

      Note that they track whether we are still using the links as they append a ticket number to the end of the URL each time we refresh the link.

      This whole mess (created by a very bad programming in the first place) certainly gave the IT team a hard time, which (maybe) will postpone the release of the results. No one knows...

    • profile image

      ENV-IF 6 months ago

      I see a 15 minute maintenance on the portal...

      Could it be the results?

      Waiting is the worst thing in the world...

    • profile image

      LIF 6 months ago

      @GF-SOC-DN when where ?

    • profile image

      oll 6 months ago

      another piece of announcement on "my project(s)" page

      The Participant Portal Grant Management Service will be under maintenance on Wednesday, 25th of January between 07:45 and 08:10 (CET). During this period users may encounter problems in accessing projects.

      We are sorry for any inconvenience this might cause.

    • profile image

      Gr soc uk 6 months ago

      And now the contacts are gone!!

    • profile image

      ENV-GF-US 6 months ago

      Nothing new. They basically just had the IDs hidden. Seems they are reading us here.

      Hello MC IT team! Please release the results asap. This is unbearable! :)

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      stuffx 6 months ago

      @CAR-ov, "Main list" definitely refers to the funded proposals. See last year's blog post from the MSCA about how they will notify applicants:

      http://mariecurieactions.blogspot.de/2016/01/if-20...

      "In the case of main list proposals (=retained for funding)," etc...

      It does say that when they make the announcement, we will have a formal notification in our notification center on the portal.

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      RS 6 months ago

      @C

      if this can help, I'm exactly in the same situation.

      On Monday morning it was "Reserved", without any officer name. Now, still nobody appears.

      I tried to use the id numbers that are shown to search for "interesting" association, but nothing.

      Most likely we are going to rest in a limbo!

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      ENV-GF-US 6 months ago

      I have the same as @Gr soc uk and @ENV-GF (all the IDs, but I've not tried to check their names). And we had the same "RANKING: Main list" status yesterday.

      And now we have some updates on the portal! :-/

      The Grant Management services may not be accessible today, 24th of January, between 17:30 and 17:45 (CET) while system maintenance is being performed.

      Submission of proposals will not be impacted.

      We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

    • profile image

      GF-SOC-DN 6 months ago

      20 min ago they posted in their facebook page this message "The results will be out very soon ;)

      Until then, we at #MSCA wish you the best of luck!"

    • profile image

      GF SOC 6 months ago

      @LA Ves

      I still have "finished":false

      I also have names of officers, and "phase":"RANKING"

    • profile image

      PSL (SOC) 6 months ago

      Do you think Brexit could have affected results?. I mean for those which host is in UK.

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      6 months ago

      @Gr soc uk - thanks for details. I followed from the beginning, and agree it smells really good for you.

      I'm "Reserved", and I have "contacts":{"ccPersonsInvitationLetter":[]}...

      No officer, no legals, nobody!

    • profile image

      GF SOC 6 months ago

      @LA Ves

      I still have "finished":false

      I also have names of officers, and "phase":"RANKING"

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      CAR-ov 6 months ago

      On Monday morning I had RANKING: Main list. Now I have all the officers and backups listed as described by ENV-GF (I had them the first day I accessed the system this way)

      I do not think it means anything at all. "RANKING: Main list" can be just a zero value were the final decision has not been entered into the system yet (while "rejected" and "reserved" are much more descriptive and unambiguous values). And since we cannot see the status anymore, everything is just pure guessing.

      Anyway, fingers crossed!

      ---

      Earlier I had EVALUATION: Accepted (above threshold). onMainList: false