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Specific questions for my application to the EB2-NIW

Published Oct 18,2019 By Franck Slama


First of all, many thanks for the great job you are doing with all the information you provide to academics applying to permanent status in the United States. I bought the DIY packages and it is helping me a lot while preparing my application.

I have some questions about my application to the EB2-NIW category and I would greatly appreciate if you could tell me what are your point of view on the following topics :

1) I obtained my PhD in the UK (in a world-leading institution), and am now living in France (i am French and did my undergrad years in France), but I haven’t yet spent much time in the US. I went twice to the US : one for a bit less than 3 months (under an ESTA : a visa waiver program for EU residents) because my fiancee was living there, and a second time for holiday (2 weeks approximately), again with an ESTA. Each time I have of course strictly obey the time limit for an ESTA.

Most people who apply to green cards seem to have live in the US for several years. Do I still have a chance even if it is not my case? I sincerely want to permanently pursue my research in the US but have been working in other countries (the UK and France) thus far.

2) For the recommendation letters, most of the people to whom I have asked recommendation letters to the USCIS are UK residents because I have seen them at conferences and have more links with them. Is it acceptable to get 2-3 letters from British citizens, 2-3 from French citizens, and only 1 or 2 from US citizen (in fact, one of them is not even a native American, he is a French living in the US)? I am wondering if their nationality matters at all or not, or if only their reputation in my field matters.

3) Related question : given the current political tensions between the Est and the West, if a Russian recognized expert (who has been living in France the last 15 years) is willing to write a recommendation letter for me, is this a good thing for me? I wasn’t that scared about that until he asked me about this issue (?) himself.

4) I am currently living in Paris, France, but will soon be living in another town (still in France) starting in January or February, while waiting for my petitions to be processed bu the USCIS. That will allow me to spend a few weeks with family members before moving to the US (well, hopefully), and that will also give me some time to deal with furnitures as I will need to vacate the flat in which I currently live. So I already know the address where I will be spending February (and perhaps more), and I can already receive letters there (it’s just a little bit less convenient than my current address as I am not there yet). Should I use this new address on my USCIS forms, or should I use the actual one and update later ?

Many thanks for your help again. Please, do not hesitate to tell me if you need more information in order to give me a more precise answer.

Kind regards.

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4 years ago

Hello Franck,

We are glad to know you find our manuals useful! Regarding the questions:

1) It is not a problem if you apply from abroad, you can opt for the consular processing in your forms. The main point of your petition is that the U.S. will substantially benefit from your work. If you manage to prove it, it should not matter where you apply from.

2) Yes, it is preferable to have reference writers from various countries, which shows the international recognition of your work. Having some letters from members of U.S. national laboratories would be good, if you want to prove the intrinsic benefit of your work/research.

3) Russian professors are not a problem. We see many successful applications with reference letters written by ex-USSR scientists.

4) You need to use the address on which you plan to receive the correspondence. There are two factors you need to keep in mind when choosing the address: (*) You need to have access to that address in case you receive an RFE, because you will be given a deadline to response (usually 30 to 90 days). (*) You can change the mailing address after you move. However, knowing how the government departments work (and how many mistakes they make), one would prefer to keep one address at all times.

4 years ago

Dear blog support,

Many thanks for your swift and detailed answer, that’s very kind and I really appreciate the effort you put into helping me. You truly are doing an amazing job!

I’m glad to know that recommendation letters from researchers from different countries is good, and that Russian professors are not a problem. Many thanks for this information.
Regarding the address, I will follow your advice and use the same for the entire duration of my application in order to make things easier for the USCIS. I will pay my local post office for the mail redirection for a couple of months when I will vacate my current flat. That will probably add a few days of delay in receiving letter from the USCIS, but that’s probably the safest option. By the way, if they send me RFE, will they send them via the national post ?

I have some additional questions and I would really appreciate if you could help on this :

5) As I’m going through the consular processing, if I understand well, the path is (as described in your document) i140 petition -> when approved, I send the approval to the National Visa Center (on some webpages it looks like the USCIS will directly send it to the National Visa Center) -> I wait for the ““Instructions packet for immigrant visa applicant” -> I complete and return the packet -> consular office meeting -> green card issued (if all that worked).
So there is no I-485 to complete for the consular processing path, as this form is only an adjustment of status for people already in the US? Am I right on this?

6) Do you know what are the various fees going to be for this path? Of course I will have to pay for the I-140 ($700 currently). Will there be something else to pay later on (for the interview or for the issue of the green card) ?

7) I am not sure about how to pay the $700 for the I-140 from abroad. The official webpage on says :
-> As I do not have a US bank account, I am not sure that the check is a good way (although I could probably ask my bank for a certified check in US dollars). Is a money order from my French or British bank account a good idea? They also say that I could pay via credit card if filing “at a USCIS Lockbox facility” but I am ensure what a Lockbox facility is exactly. From what I understand, it is something different to the “Direct Filling addresses” where I will send my application (found at ) and I am therefore not sure that the credit card is a good idea. And anyway, I only have various “debit cards” and I am ensure that they would work too (even though I never had any problem with them in the US, apart for gas stations sometimes). Would you recommand anything specific for paying my I-140 fees please ?

8) That’s my final question for now, I promise 🙂
While I will be waiting for an answer from the USCIS about my I-140, and latter on waiting for my interview at the embassy, and even later waiting for the green card (hopefully!) will I still be able to travel to the US for short stays with the ESTA that I currently have and which is still valid? (for holiday, and to meet the people with whom I could work later on when I will have the permanent immigrant status). Of course I will go back to France after these short trips and finish my immigration process from France. But as the ESTA (short term visit for holiday for EU nationals) and the Green card are quite different on their intention, I do not want to scare an immigration officer. Will I face any issue on that?

Many thanks again for all your help. I apology for asking so many questions, I must admit that this is a stressful experience and your experience is helping a lot.

Kind regards

4 years ago
Reply to  Franck

Hello Franck,

I am not aware of the method the USCIS is using to send documents overseas. I don’t exclude the possibility of receiving the documents from one of their European offices. Regarding the questions:

5) Yes, this is correct. I-485 should be filed only by applicants who are already in the U.S. (hence the “adjustment” of their status within the U.S.)

6) You will have to pay fees for DS-260 (in the ballpark of $300) and medical exam (depending on circumstances).

7) If you do not have a check from a U.S. bank, then you can send your application to a USCIS Lockbox facility together with Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. These facilities play a role of hubs, where they receive and check mail and process the payments before the documents are sent further to other USCIS offices. Please place your payment at the very top of your packet, so they immediately see it. The direct mailing addresses you mentioned do not process credit card payments and I am not sure if they can handle a payment made with a check from a non-U.S. bank.

8) Traveling with ESTA is similar to traveling with B1/B2 visa in a sense that you have to prove to the border officer that you do not have the immigrant intent. If you filed I-140 and the officer has this information, this may create a conflict of intents and you may be refused an entry. It is certainly possible to prove that you don’t have the intent of staying in the U.S. once entering with ESTA, however you have to weigh the risks and consult with an immigration attorney before attempting it, see, e.g., the following article:

4 years ago

Dear blog support,

Thank so much again for your very detailed answer. You are amazing.
Thank you for confirming that the lockbox facilities are not the same thing that the direct address that process the I140 application. That was what I understood. I will decide if I go with a (foreign) cashier check (in US dollars), a money order (I don’t know how easy they are to purchase from abroad) or a card via the lockbox facility (I don’t know if that adds a lot of delay of not).

For travelling to the US while waiting for my green card to be processed, I will read more about it, many thanks for the link. I hope that I will have no issue if I carry enough evidence that my intention is to go back to my home country for finishing the green card application, and that these short trips are indeed just short trips.

I will let you know how things are going for me. Many thanks again for all the help you provided.
Take care.

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