business research

NIW and EB-1: How to show impact on the field as a whole when there are few citations

Our office consistently advises clients that 150 citations seems to be a good rule of thumb for National Interest Waiver and EB-1 cases. However, this is a norm from science, technology and engineering (STEM) fields. What do we do about scholars/researchers in other fields whose citations do not meet the 150 standard? Does that doom the case? Not necessarily. What USCIS is looking for is impact of the scholar/researcher’s work on the field as a whole. Some fields are very practical and real world oriented; others in the humanities or social sciences do not lend themselves to numerous publications and citations. What to do?

Scholars from non-science and technology fields, or researchers who are not in academia, must take a different approach.

The focus should first be to review the impact of a scholar/researcher’s work in the real world. Often original ideas are picked up by the consulting companies and then incorporated into industry-specific best practices guidelines. Sometimes we approach companies where the researcher may have worked in the past, or endorsers in similar companies in the same industry, to outline the specific real world impact of the researcher’s original contributions to their bottom line and the success of their business. For example, a business professor, researcher and scholar at a major New York university was invited to consult with a large private eye clinic in India, with offices in many cities, to create streamlined procedures to cut down on patient wait times and thereby increase the daily number of patients served and ultimately boost the company’s revenues. This successful model served as a template for other service providers to follow to enhance effectiveness and improve profitability. We highlighted this accomplishment to USCIS.

Next, in the case of scholars in the humanities and social sciences, we ask editors at the appropriate scholarly publishers and presses for a letter explaining to USCIS that in the particular field at issue, such as linguistics, publications for a scholar are few and far between because of the difficulty of publishing in that field and that scholars tend not to cite each other but have other ways to acknowledge impact such as inviting the scholar to a conference, to guest lecture, etc..

To demonstrate impact, we also look to see if other specialists in the field have used the papers/ideas of the scholar/researcher in their undergrad or graduate classes. We would then include a copy of the syllabus.

When filing a case, we highlight all of these points to USCIS while making the legal argument that NIW/EB-1 cases are open to scholars and researchers in many fields besides science, technology and engineering and that USCIS metrics must take into account the standards and practices that are unique to each field.

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