Case Studies: Outstanding Professors or Researchers EB-1(B)
Section 203(b) of Immigration and Nationality Act states: (1) priority workers. Visas shall first be made available … to qualified immigrants who are aliens described in any of the following subparagraphs (A) through (C). (B) Outstanding Professors and Researchers. An alien is described in this subparagraph if (i) the alien is recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic area, (ii) the alien has at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area, and (iii) the alien seeks to enter the United States (I) for a tenured position (or tenure-track position) within a university or institution of higher education to teach in the academic area, (II) for a comparable position with a university or institution of higher education to conduct research in the area, or (III) for a comparable position to conduct research in the area within a department, division, or institute of a private employer, if the department, division, or institute employs at least 3 persons full-time in research activities and has achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.
Experience in teaching or research while working on an advanced degree will only be acceptable if the alien has acquired the degree, and if the teaching duties were such that he or she had full responsibility for the class taught or it the research conducted toward the degree has been recognized within the academic field as outstanding. A letter from the employer to include the name, address, and title of the writer, and a specific description of the duties performed by the alien is acceptable evidence. Federal regulation lists 6 criteria, of which the petitioner must satisfy at least 2.
We analyze several EB(1)(B) petitions on following regulatory criteria.
Receipt of Major Prizes or Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Academic Field
One assistant professor in finance received a 2004 Faculty Development Grant from the Chinese American Faculty Association of Southern California (CAFA). AAO held that the grant is not indicative of international recognition because a grant is generally intended to fund future activity based on the submission of a proposal as apposed to recognition of past outstanding achievements.
Another example is a Distinguished Research Award at an international conference which merely connotes a presenter whose work was accepted for publication. The award is not a major award for outstanding achievement.
CIS also concluded that scholarship awarded from160 out of 500, 1,132 out of 4,250, 25 percent and 36.05 percent acceptance rate cannot be classified as outstanding. Moreover, a research grant is principally designed to fund future research, not to honor or recognize past achievement, and if limited to newly graduated postdoctoral trainees, are not indicative of international recognition in the field since most experienced and recognized members in the field do not apply.
Membership in Associations which require Outstanding Achievements of their Members
An association requiring a degree in the field, a number of years of experience and nomination by current members to admit new member is common on numerous professional associations. However, those memberships do not qualify for EB(1)(b) purpose. An association for faculty in all fields limited by ethnicity and region does not meet this criterion, too.
Alien’s Participation, either Individually or on a Panel, as a Judge of the Work of other
One professor claimed that she refereed papers for 2000 and 2001 Financial Management Association and she also served as a reviewer for an international conference. AAO denied her petition based on the reason that, with insufficient evidence, peer review is routine in academia and not every peer reviewer enjoys international recognition. AAO further reasoned that a request to review a journal manuscript from a colleague at one’s own place of employment is not indicative of international recognition.
Another professor in computer science claimed to serve as “Tool Chair” for a conference. CIS decided that being invited by his advisor and collaborator to assist with an organization of a conference is not indicative of or uniquely consistent with international recognition.
As we always advise our clients, you get better chance in filing immigrant petition once you have more credentials. 2 journal and 2 conference reviews are not sufficient. Then how many are enough? It will depend on CIS adjudicator’s mind all the time. In our experience, simply serving as journal editor essentially is an undeniable evidence for outstanding achievement.
Original Scientific or Scholarly research Contributions to the Academic Field
Simply listing petitioner’s past project which is phased as “original” and does not duplicate prior research does not meet this criterion. AAO pointed out that not every published article or conference presentation that adds to the pool of knowledge can be considered indicative of international recognition. Petitioner should identify a contribution to the field of endeavor as a whole or explain how it has impacted the field.
One professor submitted reference letters which were for the most part from petitioner’s professors, advisors and coworkers. In denying her petition, CIS concluded that the petitioner had not demonstrated any recognition in international or national community. Another professor provided several reference letters in her petition. Among them, only a single professor in Canada asserted petitioner’s contribution being unique and her work being outstanding. CIS denied her petition since record lacks evidence to conclude her work as the foundation of any other’s.
Authorship of Scholarly books or Articles in the Academic Field
One professor has authored 4 published articles and submitted a reference letter to prove her pathbreaking research. AAO disagreed. It said that it is common for Ph.D. students and professors to publish their work. CIS and AAO will evaluate the evidence as to whether it is indicative of international recognition. If there are numerous independent citations relating petitioner’s work, reference letters from independent experts to explain how petitioner’s work has influenced them, and course reading lists from coursed in the United States and abroad listing petitioner’s work as required or recommended reading, petitioner’s books or articles probably are received international recognition.
Another professor published 2 articles and a book review in her own university. AAO denied her petition by stating that mere publication in internationally circulated journals is not typically sufficient without evidence that the published work has been widely cited internationally or is required reading for course in the field at several international universities. But the question how many citations will be deemed widely remains in individual adjudicator’s mind. Obviously, 100 citations are widely. How about 15 or 20? CIS found that 11, 10 and 9 citations on each articles in another case is not sufficient.
Comparing with “national interest waiver,” and “extraordinary ability” petitions, “outstanding professor/researcher” is a more relatively straight petition. However, successful or not will eventually depend on petitioner’s achievements. Only well prepared petition and sufficiently supported documents should be filed once you believe that you have achieved an outstanding career in your research field.
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