Recent NIW Approvals for Cases with Low Citation Counts

As many of our readers are aware, citations are one of the primary metrics the USCIS will use when determining whether a researcher’s work has garnered enough recognition to be deemed in the “national interest”.  Oftentimes, because of a petitioner’s field, or because of how recent a work may have been published, a high citation count may not be available to use in a case.  There are numerous methods a petitioner can use to overcome a low citation count and we would like to share some of these strategies with our readers.  Using two of our recent cases as an example:


Petitioner was a biochemist with 5 peer-reviewed publications with 9 citations to them.  To make up for the lack of citations, we were able to show the national interest impact of his work through his presentations at recent international conferences. We submitted evidence of over a dozen emails from other biological researchers complimenting him on his presentations and asking for assistance with their projects using the petitioner’s methodology.  Particularly impressive was that some of these emails were from professors from famous Universities such as Stanford and U.C. Berkeley.  This case was approved in less than four months without an RFE

Electronic Engineer

Petitioner held a PhD in Electronic Engineering and authored 3 publications with 5 citations to them.  While Electronic Engineering and other computer related fields generally have fewer citations than the life sciences, 5 citations was unusually low for this type of case. To make up for the citation shortfall, we submitted evidence of the practical application of his work. The petitioner held 5 patents (3 from the United States and 2 from China).  One of these patents was particularly attractive to IT companies, and the petitioner received 3 inquiries from hi-tech companies regarding the use of his patented technology.  While a licensing agreement had not been finalized by the time we submitted the case, we were able to show a number of email streams that demonstrated the interest these companies had in the technology, thus proving the practical application of petitioner’s patent.  This case received an RFE but was approved within five months of the original submission.

The two examples above are just a couple of the many creative strategies that can be used to overcome a low citation count; we will explore more of these strategies in subsequent articles.  Based on our case approval history, potential NIW petitioners should not give up on applying simply because of a low citation count.  With a bit of creative thinking, it is entirely possible to demonstrate the objective “national interest” impact you have had on your field without having to rely solely on citations.

For questions or comments regarding this article please contact Attorney Fok at: