Featured Approval: NIW Approval for Medical Physicist with 6 Citations
As we’ve talked about in our blog posts on the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW), citations remain one of the best indicators of the chances for success under this category for researchers and scientists. Simply put, a researcher with a high number of citations is likely to have a strong NIW case with a high chance for approval. But we understand that there may be good reasons for having a lower citation record, like working in a field where one’s work is more influential in the real world than in academia, and we therefore know that it is important for a comprehensive NIW evaluation to consider more than just the number of citations. Such is the case for our most recent approval.
Our client is working as a medical physicist treating patients and conducting research. While his PhD satisfied the advanced degree requirement, and his research on the efficacy of different cancer treatments satisfied the substantial merit and national importance prongs, the weakness in his case came from his low citation record. To give him a good chance for approval, it was important to highlight how his work was successful and impactful outside of academia. As a clinical researcher, this is only natural: his work is more useful for clinicians seeking to provide better treatment to their patients than it is to other researchers in his field, but this is perhaps even more important work since it impacts real people and their health. We were able to highlight this through detailed letters of recommendation from a variety of respected professionals in the field, including one who had been influenced in their own treatment of patients.
Overall, through a customized strategy that focused on our client’s individual strengths, we were able to show that he was well experienced, had conducted successful research that had attracted the interest of others, and had made substantial progress on important research in the field of medical physics. His petition was quickly approved by USCIS in under 3 months because we were able to show that he was well positioned to advance the area of medical physics, and that it was beneficial to the U.S. to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements. By taking the time to think about his unique credentials and how best to present them, we were able to help our client achieve his goal of being approved for a National Interest Waiver.
Featured Approval: EB-1A Approval for Physicist After Unreasonable RFE
An unfortunate fact of life when dealing with USCIS is that sometimes the immigration officer reviewing your case just gets it wrong. It can be frustrating to put lots of time and effort into preparing a strong petition only to receive a template Request for Evidence (RFE) or, even worse, an RFE that gets the law wrong. After all, any time an RFE is issued the potential for the case to be denied becomes very real, so responding to the RFE becomes critically important. But immigration officers are people too, and they can make mistakes. When this happens, an experienced attorney can be invaluable in helping correct the officer and receive an approval.
This is what happened to a recent client of ours. A physics research and entrepreneur, his credentials were quite strong: he had served as a Chief Editor of a major international conference, had published articles and book chapters that had been cited over 800 times, had invented technology that had been patented, and had developed nationally-adopted standards for measuring agricultural products. Nevertheless, he received an RFE from an officer who appeared to not understand the EB1A requirements or some basic scientific concepts. Most notably, the RFE challenged the originality of our client’s work because “his contributions appear to be primarily based on established technologies.” Indeed, much of our client’s career had involved taking existing technologies and modifying them to be used in novel applications. The RFE also challenged the “Authorship of Scholarly Articles” criterion, suggesting that our client’s publications did not set him apart from others in his field due to their lack of originality.
We adopted a strategy of politely and clearly explaining why the RFE was mistaken about these issues. We began by explaining that in science, originality does not only mean inventing a new technology. Rather, originality can mean building on the work of others to find new uses for old technology or providing new insight into a problem. We explained how our client’s work was original and supported this explanation with evidence that journals typically do not publish unoriginal research and that patents are not issued to technology that is not novel. We also used a precedent court decision to explain to the officer that USCIS is required to evaluate only the plain language of each criterion and may not impose new requirements.
Our strategy proved successful, as the case was approved less than 2 weeks after we responded to the RFE. While the unreasonable nature of the RFE made it challenging, our attorneys have personally responded to over 1,000 RFEs in their career and knew that a clear, well-reasoned response could still help the case be approved. Receiving an RFE can be a very unpleasant experience, but it doesn’t have to lead to a denial. With the help of an experienced attorney, even cases that receive tough RFEs can be approved.
Featured Approval: EB-1A Approval for Pastry Chef
All too often we get leads who have been evaluated by other firms and are subsequently rejected by them because these firms work on a factory-floor like premise: either your case fits into a preexisting template or you don’t qualify. Yet, there is nothing about the EB-1A petition category that requires one to have citations to published work or to have a certain threshold of citations in order to qualify. Sure, having hundreds upon hundreds of citations in a STEM related field is great and makes things easy when you don’t want to actually craft a case to cater to the individual qualities of someone, but it also fails to recognize that many, many people who don't necessarily have hundreds of citations (or any!) could qualify if their case was actually just developed in the right way.
Our client in this case was one such client. This client has made a career out of being a pastry chef. And as one might guess, pastry chefs don’t tend to publish their work, receive citations or do peer-reviews. As a result, our client was rejected by several other law firms before coming to us saying he didn't qualify. During our evaluation of his case, we took a hard look at his background and found that if his case was simply developed in the right fashion, we could employ some lesser used criteria to apply under to get him approved under the EB-1A standard. As a result, we developed a highly personalized case strategy and began collecting the appropriate evidence to claim the following regulatory categories:
- Major Media
- High Salary
- Critical Role
Our client actually had not just a close case, but a really good case. All he needed was a lawyer who knew what to ask for, where to look, and how best to play up his key talents and attributes. The end result was an EB-1A approved within 15 calendar days.
Moral of the story? Working with an attorney that is not simply looking to fit you into a preexisting pigeon hole was the difference for our client between giving up on his dreams of immigrating to the U.S. and finding his way within a matter of weeks to an approved EB-1A.