The Immigration Act of 1990 created a special category for qualified foreign nationals to gain permanent residence status. The Outstanding Professor and Researcher category is particularly advantageous as it does not involve the more costly and time-consuming labor certification (PERM) process that is a prerequisite for most employment-based immigration categories.
This category does not require the approval of the Department of Labor. Since the petition is submitted directly to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), permanent resident status may be gained much more quickly than under the alternative system.
Our law firm will assist you in presenting your petition in a manner which will emphasize your credentials to the USCIS. We will provide information regarding the recommended format of the recommendation letters. We will also review and edit necessary changes that will properly highlight your qualifications. We will discuss with you the probative value of the supporting documents attached to the petition. In addition to the above, our office will ensure the supporting documents are organized in a proper fashion per USCIS guidelines. We will include with the petition a support brief explaining how you qualify as an outstanding professor or researcher. We will ensure that the petition is properly filed with the appropriate USICS service center and keep you informed about the progress of your petition.
At the time of filing the petition with the USCIS, we have to establish the outstanding nature of the foreign national’s credentials by satisfying the specific criteria set forth by the USCIS. To qualify for permanent resident status under this category the following conditions must be met:
- A permanent job offer in an academic position. Note: Postdoctoral Associates or Fellows are not considered to be permanent employees and would not qualify for this program. Research Associates or tenure-track faculty may qualify for this program.
- If the employer is a private company rather that a university or educational institution, the private employer must employ at least three persons full time in research activities and have achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.
- Evidence that the professor or researcher has at least three years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field. Experience in teaching or research while working on an advanced degree will only be acceptable if the person has achieved the degree and if the teaching duties were such that he or she had full responsibility for the class taught or if the research conducted toward the degree has been recognized as outstanding. It is recommended that the foreign nationals wishing to benefit from this process wait until they have three years of experience after the Ph.D. before submitting this type of application.
- Evidence that the foreign national (professor or researcher) is recognized internationally as outstanding in their academic field. This evidence shall consist of most of the following*:
- Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievements in the academic field;
- Membership in associations in the academic field which require outstanding achievements of their members;
- Participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field;
- Citations of your work in professional publications by other experts in the field;
- Authorship of scholarly books/articles, in scholarly journals with international circulation, in the field;
- Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field.
*The USCIS has stated that the above list should serve as a guideline for the type of documentation required for this petition. Possession of a few items on the list does not guarantee approval. Applicants should provide sufficient documentation to prove to a USCIS examiner that the applicant is truly an outstanding professor or researcher with international recognition.
Supporting documents must be submitted to the USCIS at the time of filing. The required supporting documentation includes the following:
Employment Support Letter – Support letter from department chair or host professor or employer. This letter should both confirm permanent employment and provide a strong recommendation for permanent residence (i.e. must discuss foreign national’s qualifications, experience and standing in the field).
Confirmation of position and salary – Separate letter from the department chair or hiring authority confirming permanent employment.
Curriculum Vitae – For the sake of readability, all the relevant information must be specified in chronological order.
Copies of degree(s) – Copies of all higher education diplomas including Ph.D. diploma. If the diploma is in a language other than English or Latin, it must be accompanied with a certified translation.
Support letters of recommendation – Supporting letters of recommendation from other recognized leaders in the field or previous employers attesting to the applicant’s original scientific or scholarly research contributions (a minimum of four to a maximum of twelve letters is recommended).
Applicant’s participation in activity as the judge of work of others in the academic field – must provide evidence of activity, examples:
- Copies of requests from editors who asked that you review an article for a scholarly journal, or memos confirming participation as a reviewer
- Copies of conference publications which show your participation as an organizer or reviewer
- Copies of documents that indicate committee assignments for professional associations in the field
- Copies of documents proving that you’ve acted as a reviewer for grant proposals (e.g., USDA, NSF)
- Any other evidence which indicates that other people in the field are seeking your opinion.
Membership in professional organizations which require past and present experience in the area of expertise and outstanding and noteworthy achievement for membership – copies of member cards or receipt of paid dues.
Prizes and awards (including competitive grants) – copies of first pages of documentation, the copies should include name, and name of grant or prize awarded. Whole grant proposals do NOT need to be included.
Presentations at academic symposiums – include copies of abstracts, if available.
Peer-reviewed articles – copies of all published articles.
Evidence of citations – Evidence from on-line citation indexes is sufficient as long as the evidence clearly shows who cited you, and in what publication.
Any additional evidence: i.e. patents, computer programs, any other materials that demonstrate standing in the field.
If you believe that you may be qualified for this category and have the support of your university or research organization, please contact our firm by emailing your resume and we will follow up with an evaluation of your eligibility and probability of petition approval.
[Note: Please consult with an attorney specializing in Immigration & Nationality law for professional advice in specific situations.]
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