There are few countries in the world that value innovation and education as strongly as the United States. Although America is proud of its native scholars, it has also made welcoming exceptional researchers and professors from around the world a priority. Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visas, also known as EB-1B or EB-1-2 visas, are reserved for exceptional academics that have been offered employment in their field in the United States.

In order to qualify for an Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa, an applicant must:

  • Demonstrate international recognition for outstanding achievements in a particular academic field;
  • Have at least 3 years experience in teaching or research in that academic area; and
  • Be entering the United States in order to accept tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education.

In order to demonstrate international recognition for outstanding achievements in a particular academic field, the applicant must include documentation of at least two of the items below:

  • Evidence of receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.
  • Evidence of membership in associations that require members to demonstrate outstanding achievement.
  • Evidence of published material in professional publications written by others about the alien’s work in the academic field.
  • Evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field.
  • Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field.
  • Evidence of authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field.

The applicant’s potential employer must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, with the USCIS. However, unlike most other employment based visas, the Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa does not require a labor certification. This means that the employer does not need to prove that there is a lack qualified workers already living in the United States. This somewhat shortens the processing time compared to other employment based visas.

The Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa is one of the three types of “first preference” employment visas (hence the EB-1 abbreviation). First preference applicants receive 28.6% of the approximately 140,000 employment-based visas issued each year. While applicants who apply for the Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa have a good chance of being approved as compared to those that apply for other types of visas, there can still be a long waiting period as employment-based visas are considered in the order they are received. 

The family of workers who are granted an Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa may also apply for visas. Not all family members are eligible, but, immediate family, such as spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, generally are. The parties can then usually apply for citizenship after five years.

Not every academic who meets the criteria above will actually qualify for an Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa. “Outstanding” is in the title for a reason – very good will not cut it. An experienced immigration attorney can help applicants assess their achievements to determine if this is truly the best type of visa to apply for.  Contact us today for a consultation regarding your application for an Outstanding Professor or Researcher Visa.