Source: Table downloaded by NAFSA on 3/23/2022 from https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-6-part-f-chapter-3, "Appendices" tab.

Appendix: Outstanding Professor or Researcher Petitions - First Step of Reviewing Evidence

Step One: Review Evidence Submitted with Petition for Outstanding Professor or Researcher

Criterion[1]

Scope of Review

Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field.[2]

First, USCIS determines if the beneficiary was the recipient of prizes or awards. The description of this type of evidence in the regulation indicates that the focus must be on the beneficiary's receipt of the major prizes or awards, as opposed to his or her employer's receipt of the prizes or awards.

Second, USCIS determines whether the beneficiary has received major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field.

Relevant considerations regarding whether the basis for granting the major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field include, but are not limited to:

  • The criteria used to grant the major prizes or awards; and

  • The number of prize recipients or awardees, as well as any limitations on competitors (a prize or award limited to competitors from a single institution, for example, may not rise to the level of major).

Membership in associations in the academic field that require outstanding achievements of their members.[3]

First, USCIS determines if the association for which the beneficiary claims membership requires outstanding achievements in the academic field.

The petitioner must show that membership in the association(s) is based on the beneficiary's outstanding achievements in the academic field.

Associations may have multiple levels of membership. The level of membership afforded to the beneficiary must show that it requires outstanding achievements in the academic field for which classification is sought.

Relevant factors that may lead to a conclusion that the beneficiary's membership in the association was not based on outstanding achievements in the academic field include, but are not limited to, instances where the beneficiary's membership was based:

  • Solely on a level of education or years of experience in a particular field; or

  • On the payment of a fee or by subscribing to an association's publications.

Published material in professional publications written by others about the beneficiary's work in the academic field. Such material must include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation.[4]

First, USCIS determines whether the published material was about the beneficiary's work.

The published material should be about the beneficiary's work in the field, not just about the beneficiary’s employer or another organization that the beneficiary is associated with. Articles that cite the beneficiary's work as one of multiple footnotes or endnotes are not generally "about" the beneficiary's work.

However, the beneficiary’s work need not be the only subject of the material; published material that covers a broader topic but includes a substantial discussion of the beneficiary’s work in the field may be considered material “about” the beneficiary’s work.

Evidence may include documentation such as print or online articles in professional publications or a transcript of professional audio or video coverage of the beneficiary’s work.

Second, USCIS determines whether the publication qualifies as a professional publication.

Evidence of published material in professional publications about the beneficiary should establish the circulation (online or in print) or viewership and the intended audience of the publication, as well as the title, date, and author of the material.

The beneficiary's participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field.[5]

USCIS determines whether the beneficiary has participated, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field.

The petitioner must show that the beneficiary has not only been invited to judge the work of others, but also that the beneficiary actually participated in the judging of the work of others in the same or allied academic field.

For example:

  • Peer reviewing for a scholarly journal, as evidenced by a request from the journal to the beneficiary to do the review, accompanied by proof that the review was actually completed.
  • Serving as a member of a Ph.D. dissertation committee that makes the final judgment as to whether a candidate's body of work satisfies the requirements for a doctoral degree, as evidenced by departmental records.

The beneficiary's original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field.[6]

USCIS determines whether the beneficiary has made original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field.

The regulations do not require that the beneficiary's contributions be of "major significance." That said, the description of this type of evidence in the regulation does not simply require original research, but an original scientific or scholarly research contribution. Moreover, the description of this type of evidence in the regulation requires that the contribution must be "to the academic field," rather than an individual laboratory or institution.

The regulations include a separate criterion for scholarly articles.[7]

Therefore, contributions are a separate evidentiary requirement from scholarly articles.

Possible items that could satisfy this criterion include, but are not limited to:

  • Citation history or patterns for the beneficiary's work, as evidenced by number of citations, as well as an examination of the impact factor for the journals in which the beneficiary publishes. While many scholars publish, not all are cited or publish in journals with significant impact factors. The petitioner may use web tools such as Google Scholar, SciFinder, and the Web of Science to establish the number of citations and the impact factor for journals.
  • Since scholarly work tends to be specialized and expressed in arcane and specialized language, officers should take into account the probative analysis that experts in the field may provide in opinion letters regarding the beneficiary's contributions in order to assist in giving an assessment of his or her original contributions. That said, not all expert letters provide such analysis. Letters that specifically articulate how the beneficiary has contributed to the field and the impact on subsequent work add value. Letters that lack specifics and simply use hyperbolic language do not add value and are not considered to be probative evidence that may form the basis for meeting this criterion.

The beneficiary's authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field.[8]

First, USCIS determines whether the beneficiary has authored scholarly articles in the field.

As defined in the academic arena, a scholarly article reports on original research, experimentation, or philosophical discourse. It is written by a researcher or expert in the field who is often affiliated with a college or university. It should have footnotes, endnotes, or a bibliography, and may include graphs, charts, videos, or pictures as illustrations of the concepts expressed in the article.

Second, USCIS determines whether the publication qualifies as a scholarly book or as a scholarly journal with international circulation in the academic field.

Evidence of published material in scholarly journals with international circulation should establish that the circulation (online or in print) is, in fact, international, and who the intended audience of the publication is. Scholarly journals are typically written for a specialized audience often using technical jargon. Articles normally include an abstract, a description of methodology, footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography.

Comparable evidence to establish the beneficiary's eligibility if the standards do not readily apply.[9]

USCIS determines if the evidence submitted is comparable to the evidence required in 8 CFR 204.35(i)(3)(i). A petitioner for an outstanding professor or researcher does not need to establish that a particular standard is not readily applicable to the beneficiary's occupation. Instead, the petitioner may submit alternative, but qualitatively comparable evidence, if it establishes that the standards do not readily apply to that evidence. The existing evidentiary standards serve as a roadmap for determining, among other things, the quantity and types of evidence that should be submitted in order for such evidence to be considered "comparable."[10]

Footnotes


[^ 1] In some cases, evidence relevant to one criterion may be relevant to other criteria set forth in 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3).

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i)(A).

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i)(B).

[^ 4] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i)(C).

[^ 5] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i)(D).

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i)(E).

[^ 7] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i)(F).

[^ 8] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i)(F).

[^ 9] See 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(ii).

[^ 10] See 81 FR 2068, 2075 (PDF) (January 15, 2016).