By: Melissa G. Nolan
One of the lesser used paths to permanent residency (a “green card”) in the U.S. is that of an Outstanding Professor or Researcher. The Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is a subcategory under the Employment-Based First category. It is sometimes referred to as the EB-1(2) category.
Although the EB-1(2) category is used less often than other employment-based paths to permanent residency, it has several advantages over other categories, and should be considered whenever it might be applicable. First, the EB-1(2) category does not require labor certification, meaning there is no requirement that there be no U.S. workers who are unable or unwilling to fill the position. Second, as compared to other categories where a labor certification is not required, according to USCIS statistics, applications filed in the EB-1(2) category have a significantly higher approval rate (see https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/approval-and-denial-statistics-i-140-immigrant-petition-alien-workers).
To establish eligibility for an immigrant visa as an Outstanding Professor or Researcher, the applicant must demonstrate that: (1) the applicant is recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic area; (2) the applicant has at least three years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area; and (3) the applicant seeks to enter the United States to pursue a “qualifying position.”
A qualifying position is one that is: (1) a tenure or tenure track teaching position; (2) a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education; or (3) a comparable research position with a private employer. To qualify for EB-1(2) eligibility based upon employment in a research department or division at a private employer, that employer must satisfy additional requirements, namely, the research department or division must employ at least three persons full-time in research activities, and must have achieved documented accomplishments in the field.
In addition to the employer satisfying the “qualifying position” requirement, the individual applicant must demonstrate international recognition as outstanding in the particular academic field. To satisfy this requirement, the applicant is required to submit documentation of at least two of the following criteria:
- Evidence of receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement
- Evidence of membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievement
- Evidence of published material in professional publications written by others about the applicant’s work in the academic field
- Evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field
- Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field
Assuming the applicant is able to meet at least two of the evidentiary criteria, and if the applicant has a job offer for a “qualifying position,” the EB-1(2) immigrant visa category should be considered as a preferable alternative to the stricter extraordinary ability, national interest waiver, or the labor certification options.
If you have questions about potential eligibility as an Outstanding Professor or Researcher, or would like to know more about this process, please contact the immigration attorneys at Paule, Camazine, and Blumenthal.