Green Cards for Scientific Researchers

It is no secret that obtaining Lawful Permanent Residence status, or a “green card,” in the US is not simple. To the contrary, it is a complicated, lengthy and expensive process fraught with traps for the unwary. Fortunately, however, US immigration law makes the process a little easier for scientists.

Employment-based immigration is subject to a numerical limitation of approximately 140,000 immigrant visas per year. This is a low number relative to the demand. Accordingly, the law has established a “preference” system. The preference groups are based upon the nature of the employment in terms of educational level and ability required. Those in the first preference group will, in most cases, obtain a green card more quickly and easily than those in the second and third preference groups. The first employment based preference includes outstanding scientific researchers and professors.

In order to qualify for this category, the applicant must first be able to demonstrate that the research positions is permanent. A “permanent” position is one with an indefinite or unlimited duration with the expectation of continuity absent good cause for termination.

The applicant must also be able to demonstrate that he or she is outstanding. Petitions in this category must be supported by evidence of international recognition, which shall consist of evidence in any two of the following six suggested groups:

1. Documentation of the beneficiary’s receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement in the academic field.

2. Documentation of the beneficiary’s membership in associations in the academic field, which require outstanding achievements of their members.

3. Published material in professional publications written by others about the beneficiary’s work in the academic field.

4. Evidence of the beneficiary’s participation, either individually or on a panel, as judge of the work of others in the same or an allied academic field.

5. Evidence of the beneficiary’s original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the academic field.

6. Evidence of the beneficiary’s authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the academic field.