Additional Strategies for Overcoming Low Citation Counts for NIW and EB1 Petitions

When the USCIS denies an NIW or EB1 case, one of the more common reasons given for the denial is that there were not enough citations to the petitioner’s work to demonstrate a significant impact on the field.  As our regular readers are aware, when the right strategy is used, petitioners can overcome this apparent shortcoming and still win approval for the petition.  In this continuing series of articles, we will explore further strategies to overcome low citation counts in NIW and EB1 cases.

As discussed in previous articles, an effective method in overcoming a low citation count is to highlight the Impact Factors for any high-quality journals in which the petitioner may have published.  Publications in journals with high Impact Factors, such as Nature, Cell, or IEEE Signal Processing can be used as persuasive evidence of impact on the field to compensate for low citation counts.  Since the Impact Factor ranking is roughly a measure of the number of citations an average article receives in a particular publication, an article published in a high Impact Factor journal usually means that the article will eventually obtain a high citation count.  This information can be used to extrapolate the potential for future citations – in many instances, our office will focus on Impact Factors for petitioners that have relatively new publications which have not had time to accrue large citation counts.

Recent Case Example

The NIW petitioner was a recently graduated biochemistry post doc from a respected university in California.  Two of his articles were published in journals with Impact Factors above 10.0.  However, because many of his articles were recently published, he did not have enough time to accrue a significant number of citations.  In the argument for this case, our office focused on the Impact Factors of his publications.  Additionally, we provided the average citation count over time in the biochemistry field to show that while his overall citation count was low, for publications that were less than two years old like his, the citation counts were actually well above average.  In this way, we were able to demonstrate that the petitioner was ahead of the curve in citations even though the overall number was low.

This case was approved in approximately six months after receiving an RFE.

Another effective strategy to supplement a petitioner’s low citation count is to use journal rankings for the publications.  Journal rankings should be distinguished from journal Impact Factors:  Impact Factors are roughly a measure of how many citations the average article receives when published in a given journal.  Journal rankings, however, are usually a general measure of how many citations a journal receives when compared to other journals in the field. This is a very important distinction for petitioners that are in emerging or less popular scientific fields.

Recent Case Example

This EB1A petitioner’s field was Oceanography, a highly specialized area of study that focuses on the science of the Earth’s oceans.  Due to the specialized nature of Oceanography, citations to journals in this field are significantly lower than journals in fields such as Biology or Chemistry; thus, the Impact Factors for journals focused on oceanography are significantly lower than other major fields of research.  For example, a majority of the petitioner’s publications were in a journal that had a low Impact Factor of roughly 1.5.  This meant that, for this case, the petitioner not only had a low citation count but also had a low Impact Factor due to her field of specialization.

For this case, our office researched the journal rankings for this journal and discovered that it consistently ranked as one of the top 5 journals in the field.  After reviewing the many available journal ranking services, we found two that ranked the journal as #1 in the field of Oceanography.  We submitted these two ranking indices as evidence of the significant impact of the petitioner’s work.

The case was approved in 26 days via the premium processing service including the processing time for an RFE.

As demonstrated by the above cases, it is certainly possible to win approval for an NIW or EB1 case even if the citation count is low; and approval is still possible even if the Impact Factor for the journals in the case are low.  With effective research techniques and the right strategy, low citation counts can be overcome.

Please continue to check our news updates regularly for new articles regarding additional techniques in overcoming low citations counts and other aspects of NIW/EB1 case strategy.

For questions or comments regarding this article please feel free to contact attorney Fok