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Whom should you Turn to for Recommendation Letters?

2013-11-25, BY WeGreened

Application for EB-1 and EB-2 is a long journey. During the process of helping our clients walk through the complicated procedure, the first and one of the most important questions we encounter is “whom should I turn to for recommendation letters? “ Indeed, recommendation letters are essential in petition for employment-based immigration benefits. Given that adjusting officers are rarely experts in your field, the only way for them to determine whether you qualify for the standard set by the law (extraordinary ability, exception researcher, exceptional ability etc.) is looking at objective evidence submitted. The evidence includes but not limited to articles, publications, memos, reference letters, expert testimony, support letters, etc. A recommendation letter is among the most important of them. Many people confuse recommendation letters for I-140 petition with those for advance education. Usually, a recommendation letter for graduate school or PhD program is a detailed discussion, from a faculty member, of the personal qualities, accomplishments, and experiences that make you unique and perfect for the programs to which you’ve applied. However, recommendation letters for I-140 petition focus on your influence and contribution to the field of your endeavor. They do not necessarily come from people who know you personally or in depth.

Recommendation Letters from outside the Petitioner’s Immediate Circle of Acquaintances Carry more Weight

We have kept emphasizing the point with our clients that the USCIS takes the position that an individual with sustained national or international acclaim should be able to produce ample unsolicited materials reflecting that acclaim. Therefore, recommendation letters from independent and outside sources carry more weight because they are proof of the petitioner’s accomplishments. If a petitioner’s contributions are not praised widely outside his or her current and former circle of acquaintances, then it cannot be concluded that he or she has earned sustained national or international acclaim or is truly exceptional or outstanding. Therefore, the government will not give as much weight to letters from the petitioner’s immediate circle of colleagues submitted in support of the criterion of original contributions of major significance in the field. Moreover, objectivity is one of the factors considered by the USCIS. Letters of support from other employees of the same petitioner or organization that is currently employing the alien or seeks to employ the alien may be rejected on the basis that they lack objectivity.

Supporting letters from experts or authorities have more weight.

Generally, individuals recognized as authorities or experts in the field are given greater weight. A statement should be included in the support letter that establishes the qualifications of these individuals to judge the alien’s work. Testimonial letters from undistinguished colleagues or former college instructors have been subject to greater scrutiny than letters submitted by high-level officials of recognized major organizations.

A Recommender should be Able to Specifically Address your Accomplishments and Contribution

In addition to be an expert in the field of your endeavor, it will better if the person writing you a recommendation letter knows about your research and contribution enough to specifically address them in the recommendation letter. Therefore, although someone who has a prominent reputation in the field of your endeavor will be a better candidate than someone from your immediate circle of acquaintances, a perfect candidate will be an expert familiarizing himself/herself of your contribution.

Recommendation letters from Government Officials Helps Substantially in a National Interest Waiver Case

As suggested by the INS (now the USCIS) in its regulations, letters from government officials and agencies attesting to the national interests which will be served by the alien’s permanent residence will greatly increase the chances of success in a National Interest Waiver case. To sum up, keep in mind that adjusting officers have no way to understand your research and contributions given that it is not their expertise. The only way for them to determine whether you have been qualified for a certain category is by reviewing the objective evidence you submit. A recommendation letter is an important indicator of your accomplishments. Therefore you should seek someone who is not only an independent expert but also has sufficient knowledge about your accomplishments and able to address them in a recommendation letter.


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