Immigrant Options for Outstanding Professors and Researchers
Written by Henry J. Chang
Outstanding professors and researchers qualify as priority workers under the first employment-based preference. This category includes an academic who qualifies as a priority worker by meeting the following description:
- the alien is recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic area,
- the alien has at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area, and
- the alien seeks to enter the United States--
- for a tenured position (or tenure-track position) within a university or institution of higher education to teach in the academic area,
- for a comparable position with a university or institution of higher education to conduct research in the area, or
- for a comparable position to conduct research in the area with 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.
The INS interprets the term "academic field" (which includes the term "academic area") to mean a body of specialized knowledge offered for study at an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning.
Pursuant to 8 CFR §204.5(i)(3)(i), the professor or researcher must be recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field as shown by at least two of seven types of documentation:
- Documentation of the alien's receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field;
- Documentation of the alien's membership in associations in the academic field, which require outstanding achievements of their members;
- Published material in professional publications written by others about the alien's work in the academic field. Such material shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation;
- Evidence of the alien's participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the same, or an allied, academic field;
- Evidence of the alien's original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field; or
- Evidence of the alien's authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field.
8 CFR §204.5(i)(3)(ii) states that the petition must include evidence that the alien 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 alien has acquired 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 within the academic field as outstanding. Evidence of teaching and/or research experience shall be in the form of letter(s) from current or former employer(s) and shall include the name, address, and title of the writer, and a specific description of the duties performed by the alien
Pursuant to 8 CFR §204.5(i)(3)(iii), an offer of employment from a prospective United States employer is required. However, a labor certification is not required for this classification. The offer of employment must be in the form of a letter from:
- A United States university or institution of higher learning offering the alien a tenured or tenure-track teaching position in the alien's academic field;
- A United States university or institution of higher learning offering the alien a permanent research position in the alien's academic field; or
- A department, division, or institute of a private employer offering the alien a permanent research position in the alien's academic field. The department, division, or institute must demonstrate that it employs at least three persons full-time in research positions, and that it has achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.
The statute requires international recognition so some indication of that recognition should appear in the petitioner's evidence, even though the types of evidence listed in the regulations do not specifically require it. The INS has concluded that it may not be enough to comply literally by submitting evidence in the categories of documentation specified. The documentation must qualitatively show that the applicant is "outstanding."