In reaction to a legitimate employment need in 1992, the United States congress created an immigrant visa that allowed professors and researchers from foreign countries to enter the United States under a Green Card to work and permanently reside in the country. The visa is one of the three subcategories under what the The United States Citizen Citizenship and Immigration Sevices (USCIS), the agency empowered with administering the visa program, has generally referred to as the EB-1 visa category. EB-1 stands for the first category of employment based immigrant visas.
The foreign professor or researcher cannot by himself apply for the visa. Rather, he has to be employed first by an educational instiution or research company, which then files an application with the USCIS for the visa for him.
To qualify for the visa, the alien professor or researcher must have an internationally recognized outstanding background in a specific academic field, such as Law, Science, and Engineering. She must also have at least three years teaching or research experience in the field. Her experience amount can be tolled from the time she became a professor or researcher. But it can also be tolled from the time she was working towards the degree and the experience was outstanding and she had a full responsibility of classes taught or researches that she conducted.
The professor or researcher is deemed to have an internationally recognized outstanding background if she has at least two of the following criteria:
a. Receipt of major prizes or awards;
b. Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements;
c. Published material in professional journals written by others about the alien’s work;
d. Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied field;
e. Original scientific or scholarly research contribution to the field; or
f. Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation.
The research or teaching postion must be permanent. A permanent position is defined as one with indefinite duration, but terminable at will for good cause in which the employee has a reasonable expectation of continued employment. Even if the employment is periodic, it may be considered permanent if the employer demonstrates a reasonable expectation of continued employment. An example is where the employer hires a reasercher under a one year conract that is renewable upon the availability of funding, and the employer shows that there is continued funding.
The alien must enter the United States, upon an offer of employment, to work in a tenure or tenure-track teaching or comparable research position in a university or institution of higher education or a comparable private research company. For the research company to participate in the visa program, it must have at least three full-time researchers and documented accomplishments in the academic field for which the position is offered.
The employer files the application together with supporting evidence on a Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with USCIS. After the USCIS approves the application, the alien can then apply for a Green Card on a Form I-485 Application to Register as Permanent Resident.
If you are a University, an institution of higher education, private research company or a professor or researcher that is in need of assistance with your employment based Green Card application, please contact our office to work with our employment based Green Card team.