Blog for Postdocs / Phds, National Interest Waiver, Extraordinary Ability

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Questions about RFE for EB1A


My wife applied for a GC through the EB1A category, and we received a RFE. We need help, as we don’t know exactly how to address this RFE.

The problem is that we failed to reach one of the criteria that they require in the first part of their analysis.

We submitted documentation in order to support the following criteria:

(i) lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards

(iv) participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization
(v) original scientific, scholarly, (etc) contributions of major significance in the field
(vi) authorship of scholarly articles in the field, (etc) and publications
(ix) alien has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration

In the RFE, it was stated that we meet the criterions IV and VI, so we met two criteria, and we’re missing just one.

This is what they told us about the other criteria:

(i) Documentation of the alien’s receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor

You wish to claim a scholarship, post-doctoral award, and YOUNG geneticist award, but we do not consider such honors nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor, because they are given only to students or early career professionals in the field, inherently excluding established professionals who have already achieved excellence.



(v) Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field

You submitted letters of opinion and a record of your citatory history, but the evidence, while demonstrating original contributions, does not substantiate original contributions of “major significance” in a field whose very top scientists (according to Google Scholar) have garnered citations numbered well in the thousands.



(ix) Evidence that the alien has commanded a high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services, in relation to others in the field

You claim the criterion but submitted no evidence. Please note that to meet this criterion, your salary would reflect that of the very top scientists and professors in the field, not that of postdocs.



As noted, we ran into some issues.

The first criteria (i), we can understand. We came from a country where very few people get a bachelor’s degree, even less a masters, even less a PhD, and even more less can receive a scholarship. This is considered as a huge thing there. Anyway, she got some post-doctoral awards and even some prizes given to a “young geneticist”. USCIS claimed that those are not recognized as prizes of excellence, as “estabilished professionals” are excluded from those. However, once again, we’re talking about a poor country with very few people doing research. “Estabilished professionals” over there are very few, and they are mostly doing research together with those post-docs.

In the second criteria (v), they state that her citatory history is very short, whereas in her field of work the well-estabilished individuals garnered thousands of citations (she has a little over 300). We don’t know exactly how to address this. It may be true, but among her peers (in particular, the ones from our country), we understand that she has actually more citations than most of them.

And in the last criteria (ix), it is stated that they don’t recognize that her salary was high enough (in short). This is extremely disappointing. Once again, in our country there are, basically, two options for those from academia: to become a teacher or to work as a post-doc and receive a scholarship from the government for years. There are next to no other opportunities in companies or some related field. Also, it is very hard to become a teacher, because those positions are offered by the government through a hard and demanding process (there’s an exam and this sort of thing) and they are only available when the government says so. To have an idea, it has been roughly two years now that absolutely no teaching positions were made available in the whole country by the federal government. In short, receiving a post-doctoral scholarship is pretty much on par to what one would expect to be a “high remuneration” in the field, at least in our country. Those who can’t get a scholarship end up leaving the field completely and working in whole different areas.

This is what we got. We also applied for a NIW, but we don’t want to leave this RFE unanswered, so we need help or some advice on how to properly address these issues.

The RFE encouraged us to submit evidences to all of those items, and even choose to submit new evidence to satisfy those requests.

Thanks in advance for your patience and answer

2 Responses to Questions about RFE for EB1A

  • Tigran Kalaydzhyan says:

    Hi Marcelo,

    The arguments presented by the officer sound reasonable. Unfortunately, the criteria do not take into account the situation you have in your home country. While the criteria (i) and (ix) are hard to dispute, the criterion (v) is possible to fight. Depending on the field you have chosen, you may claim that the number of citations does not reflect the actual impact of the research. This may have to do with the fact that
    [1] The field is small and there are not that many people working on the same topic
    [2] The older members of the community had more time to accumulate the citations, while your wife started working on that recently and her (revolutionary) contribution gathered 300 citations within such short time.

    Of course, this should be supported by additional evidences. This is one of the reasons the field should be chosen wisely, to be narrow enough to make you a person at the very top of it.

    Regarding (ix), again, if the field is new, you can try to argue that the her salary is substantially higher than of most of people in the field (if this is true and most of them are postdocs). This one is, again, hard to dispute.

    USCIS has an open access template for RFE, where you can see additional information they use to accept/reject the evidences, hope it helps:

    • Marcelo says:

      Thanks Tigran.

      I believe we can try to address criteria v and ix as well. We thought about consulting a lawyer for this situation only, as he/she may have some experience on addressing RFEs, but we’re not sure yet. We’ll try to address this within a month, not to let too much time pass.

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