The Outstanding Professors and Researchers category was added to the first preference (EB-1) classification via the 1990 Immigration and Nationality Act (IMMACT ‘90), Pub. L. 101-649. This green card process is appropriate for those recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic field, who have at least 3 years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field and have an offer of permanent employment from a prospective U.S. employer in the academic field. The U.S. employer serves as the petitioner for this process.
Teaching and/or research experience acquired while working on an advanced degree is only acceptable to meet the three-year requirement if the professor or researcher has received 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.
A professor must have an offer of employment from a U.S. university or institution of higher learning offering him or her a tenured or tenure-track teaching position. However, a researcher under this category has more options in terms of the qualifying, permanent position and U.S. employer. The employer may be (1) a U.S. university or institution of higher learning, or (2) a department, division, or institute of a private employer, which employs at least three full-time researchers and has documented accomplishments in an academic field. The qualifying, permanent position for a researcher must be either tenured, tenure-track, or for a term of indefinite or unlimited duration, and in which the employee will ordinarily have an expectation of continued employment unless there is good cause for termination.
In order to demonstrate the professor’s or researcher’s international recognition, he or she must establish at least two of the following:
- Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field;
- Membership in associations in the academic field which require outstanding achievements of their members;
- Published material in professional publications written by others about the professor’s or researcher’s work in the academic field;
- Participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field;
- Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field; or
- Authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field.
If these criteria do not readily apply, the professor or researcher may submit comparable evidence to establish eligibility. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses a two-step evaluation derived from Kazarian v. USCIS, 596 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir. 2010). USCIS will first review whether the professor or researcher meets at least two of the above six criteria. If so, USCIS will consider all of the evidence in its totality to make a final merits determination of whether the professor or researcher is recognized internationally as outstanding in the academic field.