The Outstanding Researcher category is a process that can eventually lead to a grant of Lawful Permanent Resident Status in the U.S. if approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process consists of filing an “Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker”, requesting the Immigration Service to grant the foreign national an Immigrant Visa, along with the filing of an “Application to Adjust Status to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident”, commonly referred to as a Green Card application.

One of the major benefits of this category is that it qualifies a foreign national in the First Employment-Based Preference Category, which does not, generally, have a waiting list for permanent residence. The Outstanding Researcher Immigrant Visa Petition also permits an employer to petition for a qualified foreign national without filing for a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor. However, a foreign national cannot file an Outstanding Researcher petition without the sponsorship of the employer.

The Outstanding Researcher petition will only be approved for a researcher with a significant, outstanding record in an academic discipline. Before going into the specific requirements about the quality of the employees work, there are several general requirements that must be met. The employee must have:

  • an advanced degree; and

  • 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 employee already 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; and

  • a job offer. An eligible employer needs to have departments in the academic fields which relate to the employee’s background, employ at least three persons full-time in research positions, and have achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.

The standard for qualifying as an Outstanding Researcher is that the employee is already recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field specified in the petition. This does not mean that the employee shows great promise in the area, but that he or she is already established as being in the top of his or her field. Some benefit can be gained by choosing a very narrow field of study and research. Generally this type of petition is only successful for those who have at least a Ph.D. and a significant number of years of research or teaching experience. In order to prove that the employee is in the top of their field internationally, we must collect evidence that generally falls into the following categories:

  1. (1)  Documentation of employee’s receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field (the certificates themselves or letters from organizations);

  2. (2)  Documentation of employee’s membership in associations in the academic field which require outstanding achievements of their members (association membership cards or letters from officers of the association);

  3. (3)  Published material in professional publications written by others about the employee’s work in the academic field (copies of the articles are best, also good is the list of publications that cite the employee’s work from the Citation Index);

  4. (4)  Evidence of employee’s participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field (such as invited lectures or supervision of Master’s or Ph.D. work);

  5. (5)  Evidence of employee’s original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field (letters from prominent scientists, doctors or researchers in the field attesting to your major accomplishments and achievements in the field); and

  6. (6)  Evidence of employee’s authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international or national circulation) in the academic field (copies of the first pages of such articles are helpful).