A majority of NIW petitioners from our office are in the life sciences, such as biochemistry or medicine; however, a significant minority of petitioners are from the Electronic Engineering or Computer Science related fields (collectively referred to as “EE” in this article). Because standards differ greatly between the life sciences and EE, our office employs a different set of strategies when representing a petitioner in the EE field as opposed to a petitioner in the life sciences. In this news article, we will explore some of the successful strategies that our office has used when representing EE petitioners for NIW cases.
One of the primary factors to be aware of when petitioning as an EE-based NIW candidate is to account for the fact that EE does not have a rich culture of citations like the life sciences due mainly to proprietary issues related to EE research. Thus, when compared to the average petitioner in a field such as biology, the EE petitioner could appear wanting in the citation department. Thus, for all EE petitions, our office will introduce the publication/citation section of the petition letter with a discussion regarding the general lack of citations in the EE field and then present data from academic citation aggregators to objectively demonstrate this. A more important focus than citations in many EE-based petitions are the rankings of the conferences that the petitioner has presented at. These statistics can be used in lieu of a large number of citations. Taking one of our most recent approvals as an example:
Electric Engineer #1
This petitioner had 7 peer-reviewed publications and 13 conference presentations with a combined citation count of 26 from both publications and conferences. In the petition letter, we first explained and demonstrated that the EE field does not have a rich culture of citations like other fields of science may have, then we presented detailed evidence of the conference rankings for each of the conferences at which he had presented at. For his 13 conference presentations, five of them were in the top five conferences in the field. These five prestigious invitations were thus indicative of the high regard the petitioner’s peers had for his work and demonstrated the national impact of his research. Using these rankings in combination with evidence of his review work for several peer-reviewed publications, we were able to receive an NIW approval for his case within 5 months without an RFE.
Another unique characteristic of EE-based NIW’s is that in many instances, the petitioner’s research is being used in a real-world, tangible product. While fundamental researchers in the life sciences may have a large number of citations to their work, they usually cannot show any evidence of practical applications of their work because, by definition, fundamental research is in a preliminary stage of development. Practical, real world applications of research are in most cases unique to the EE field and should be highlighted in EE-based cases when appropriate. Using a case that was recently approved as an example:
Electric Engineer #2
This petitioner had 3 peer-reviewed publications and 4 conference presentations with a combined citation count of 15 to both peer-reviewed publications and conference publications. The conferences were third tier conferences and, thus, we could not use their rankings as evidence of the petitioner’s standing in the field. Instead, our office focused on one of the petitioner’s patents. The petitioner was listed as a co-inventor of a particular mechanism that allowed for a more stable and efficient transmission of information over a wireless signal. Although the patent process was in its preliminary stages, he had already received emails from a large, nationally recognized router company that was interested in licensing his technology. Even though a licensing agreement was still being negotiated, by showing the email communications between the petitioner and the company, we were able to successfully demonstrate that his invention had practical application, and was thus in the national interest. This case was approved in 11 months without an RFE.
One of the common errors we see from self-petitioners is when he or she attempts to present the case with a “boiler plate” NIW petition letter. As the above cases demonstrate, it is beneficial to account for a petitioner’s field, and then employ specific strategies designed to highlight the advantages inherent to the field. The EE-based case possesses unique characteristics that should be featured in the petition letter to maximize the chances for approval.
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