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Outstanding Researcher

Outstanding Researcher

These materials are provided solely for informational purposes and are not legal advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not act upon the information contained in these FAQs without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney.

What Is an Outstanding Researcher (“OR”) Petition?

An Outstanding Researcher (“OR”) petition is an immigrant visa petition which, if approved, allows research scientists, professors and other scholars to file for permanent residence.  To qualify, a foreign national must possess an international reputation for having conducted outstanding research in an academic field. Please note that an approved outstanding researcher petition does not, by itself, confer work authorization or immigration status but allows for a beneficiary to file a a subsequent or concurrent green card application.

How Do I Prove that I Have an International Reputation as an Outstanding Researcher?

In order to qualify, a beneficiary of an Outstanding Researcher petition must show that he or she meets certain evidentiary criteria.  The standard is extremely high.  We will work closely with the foreign national and the employer to confirm whether these criteria can be met—  and if so, to provide the foreign national with detailed and customized instructions on obtaining documentary evidence necessary to demonstrate his or her outstanding ability.

What Are the Advantages of an OR Petition?

OR classification offers several advantages over other means of obtaining employment-based legal permanent residence (LPR).  Beneficiaries of OR petitions fall under the EB-1 (employment-based, first preference) priority date classification, which means that for nationals of certain countries, LPR status can often be obtained more quickly than is possible through PERM labor certification, Schedule A Group II petitions, or National Interest Waiver petitions (which fall under the employment-based, second preference, or “EB-2,” category).  Also, the beneficiary’s employer is not required to perform a cumbersome test of the U.S. labor market.

Are There Requirements for the Employer?

OR petitions must be signed by an employer — a foreign national cannot self-sponsor for OR classification.  Moreover, the employer must either be a U.S. university or institution of higher learning offering a tenure-track (or equivalent) teaching or research position, or a department, division, or institute of a private employer offering the alien a “permanent” research position in the alien’s academic field.  Note that private employer sponsors must demonstrate that it employs at least three full time researchers (aside from the beneficiary), and that it has achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field. 

What Will Be Required From the Foreign National?

OR petitions require a significant up-front investment of time on the part of the foreign national beneficiary.  In addition to completing our questionnaires and providing basic immigration documents, the foreign national will need to provide extensive documentation regarding his or her achievements and acclaim.   The foreign national will also need to obtain detailed, laudatory attestation letters from 5-7 independent experts in the field.  WSM will provide customized instructions to the foreign national.

What to Expect During the Process

In recent years, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has imposed an increasingly high standard on OR petitions.  Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”) — and even denials — are not uncommon.  As a result, these petitions require meticulous preparation and extra effort on the part of both our office and the researcher.  

How Long Will It Take to Prepare the OR Petition?

It typically takes about three (3) months to prepare an OR petition, but that timing can vary depending on the employee’s responsiveness and how quickly WSM can obtain the signed letters from independent experts.   


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