this week’s blog, let’s focus on laying the ground work for an extraordinary-ability
or national-interest waiver case filing.
How can you pre-plan and position yourself to maximize your chances for
a successful outcome? Here are some tips:
first request from clients is usually for a current, thorough resume. This
gives me a good idea of their individual accomplishments (as evidenced by major
awards, publications and citations, relevant media coverage and other similar
honors), the national significance of their research, and level of experience.
everything to your lawyer. If you have won national awards or hold membership
in an elite association or have other professional accolades, organize this and
especially any qualifying criteria. I help clients choose the best quality
(versus quantity) of evidence. Mediocre
evidence can actually harm your case because it doesn’t support how you are at
the top of your field. Inexperienced counsel do not understand this key
strategy and decide to throw the proverbial ‘kitchen sink’ into a filing. This
only causes further questioning from USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration
Second, don’t be shy about your excellent work.
I have met the world’s most talented and, likewise, most humble
scientists. Humility is admirable, but
the immigration process is adversarial and competitive. It isn’t in your
interest to be overly modest because we must persuade, through hard evidence,
that your talents are vital to America.
Sometimes, it takes many consultations to bring forth the self
confidence of a client (which is not to say we are making up things). Think of
it this way: If you don’t fully believe and articulate that you deserve a fast-track
green card, why should US Immigration do that work for you and give you the
benefit of the doubt?
flip side is that I sometimes meet a client very early in his career who doesn’t
have enough evidence yet. In this situation, I may advocate a different course.
Be well advised that it is more difficult for new PhDs. If one has ample time on a temporary work
visa (such as an O-1 or H-1B), then waiting to file is an option. A hasty
filing can prove very costly. However, a
recent doctorate doesn’t automatically mean you can’t file an EB1 or EB2 case.
Certainly PhD students may have conducted outstanding, pioneering research,
received international recognition, and many citations to one or more critical
3. When I first talk to a client, I also ask for
a concise statement about his/her work and its benefits to Americans. It is essential to clearly define one’s area
of expertise and significant contribution. If your work has been among a
research team, discuss your innovation or individual discovery. Avoid scientific jargon and overly technical,
descriptive verbiage. Why is your work
singular among your peers who may be conducting similar research in other
institutions? Use simple, lay-person
language. The impact of your work is more important than the specific
theories. Imagine that the USCIS officer
is not a scientist. If you hold patents, discuss them.
Where you work can be a factor too. I won’t hide the fact that having conducted
cutting-edge research at top institutions like Yale, Harvard, Stanford,
government or quasi-government agencies has an advantage. Acceptance to work, through a rigorous
selection process, at such a place proves you are at the top of your
field. Government-funded research should
5. Likewise, expert evidentiary letters are
vital, so you should use your network.
Who you know, who your supervisor knows and how they know of your
research helps your cause considerably.
The more high level the person who recommends you the better, and be
sure to include his/her CV to establish field expertise. A combination of
letters from peers and supervisors/advisors who can corroborate your
achievements and independent references from others who know your work through
your international reputation, conferences or publications all provide strong
evidence. Later on, we’ll talk about
which writers are considered to be biased and how to rebut such presumptions by
6. Perform citation searches of your
publications. Document journals with top rankings and explain if you conduct
peer reviews for any journals. Widely
cited publications represent vital evidence.
Encourage your expert writers to also discuss these citations.
may be gathering, there is much legwork you can do ahead of time. It is very
helpful to your attorney in planning, constructing and strategizing your case
in the most optimal way. I hope these tips have given you some insights into
presenting a high quality, ultimately successful case.
an established business immigration attorney, licensed to practice immigration
law nationally, with over 12 years of highly specialized experience working
with scientists and researchers in a wide range of fields. I also provide consulting to law firms on EB1
and EB2 matters.
The statements in this blog are my
observations based on my experience as an immigration attorney. I do not intend for them to serve as
immigration advice to a reader to be relied upon, nor should they be understood
or interpreted to form an attorney/client relationship.