Case Study: Appeal Sustained and Petition Approved by AAO on a NIW petition which held that the number of citations, by itself, does not appear to be sufficient to establish eligibility, but the petition does not rest solely on those citations


The petitioner is a member of the professions holding an advanced degree. The petitioner is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSMC), Dallas. The petitioner asserts that an exemption from the requirement of a job offer, and thus of a labor certification, is in the national interest of the United States. The director found that the petitioner qualifies for classification as a member of the professions holding an advanced degree but that the petitioner had not established that an exemption from the requirement of a job offer would be in the national interest of the United States.

USCIS Decision & Reasons of Denial:

The director denied the petition on November 6, 2008, stating: [Y]ou failed to submit the requested list of citations of your publications from a respected professional citation service. Instead, you have submitted an un-acceptable self-generated “List of publications that cited my papers.”The lack of this evidence seriously affects the ability of the Service to adequately access [sic] the impact of your publications on your field of endeavor.

AAO Decision:

The petitioner submitted a table, which he himself apparently prepared, showing citations of six of his articles. The petitioner also submitted two overlapping printouts from different citation databases. The petitioner also submitted copies of 27 citing articles.

More fundamentally, the petitioner had submitted copies of over two dozen citing articles. These articles are, by definition, first-hand proof of citation of the petitioner’s articles. The director did not explain why the articles themselves were not sufficient evidence of the citation of the petitioner’s work.

We find that the petitioner has submitted satisfactory evidence of eligibility. The petitioner has documented several citations of his work. The number of citations, by itself, does not appear to be sufficient to establish eligibility, but the petition does not rest solely on those citations. The petitioner has also submitted credible and persuasive letters from a wide variety of independent witnesses who have attested, in detail, to the significance and value of the petitioner’s work. While not all of these details are clear to laypersons, in the aggregate the letters point out clearly enough that the petitioner has produced well-received solutions to difficult problems in his specialty. The witnesses do not simply assert that the petitioner was the first to perform some action, as though being the first were sufficient to qualify him for the waiver (which is not the case). Furthermore, the record shows that the petitioner’s work has significant real-world applications (such as in medicine); its significance is not limited only to a rarefied few in an obscure academic subspecialty.

from Chen Immigration Law Associates

North America Immigration Law Group (Chen Immigration Law Associates) is a U.S. immigration law firm dedicated to representing corporations, research institutions, and individuals from all 50 U.S. states regarding I-140 immigration petitions. We specialize in employment-based immigration petition and have a proven record of high success rate for the categories of: EB2-NIW (National Interest Waiver), EB1-A (Alien of Extraordinary Ability) and EB1-B (Outstanding Researcher/Professor).

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