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Qualities of Good Writers of NIW (National Interest Waiver) Reference/Recommendation Letters and Examples of What They Should Say in the Letter

by WeGreened

A recommendation letter is also called a reference letter, supporting letter or testimonial letter. Recommendation letters are essential in a NIW (National Interest Waiver) petition. 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 immigration law (extraordinary ability, exceptional ability, entitled to the waiver of a labor certification) is looking at objective evidence submitted. The evidence includes but not limited to articles, publications, memos, expert testimony, citations, rewards and recommendation/reference letters.

Lawyers in North America Immigration Law Group are of the opinion that a NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letter is one of the most important evidentiary supporting materials. Therefore, we not only take time to figure out the perfect candidates with our clients to draft their NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letters, but also draft letters for them. Drafting the most helpful NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letters require good understanding about USCIS regulations and immigration law, we just cannot leave that important job to our clients.

Strong NIW (National Interest Waiver) Recommendation/Reference Letters Makes up for Your Minimum Citations

The USCIS and AAO have kept pointing out that the standard of NIW (National Interest Waiver), unlike EB1-A, is a flexible standard. That is, there is no requirement of minimum number of papers and citations. Based on our experience and AAO decisions, while frequent citation can certainly bolster a researcher's claim to have influenced the field, the lack of frequent citation is not a bar to eligibility where other objective evidence of the petitioner's influence exists. Similarly, merely being cited substantially does not by itself establish the petitioner's eligibility to NIW (National Interest Waiver). Original and significant contribution to the field is an essential consideration for the USCIS to decide on an NIW (National Interest Waiver) case and we found that establishing the petitioner's contribution relies heavily on strong recommendation letters. Therefore, the list of people drafting your recommendation letters and the content of these letters are critical to establish your original and substantial contribution in your field.

How to Choose Good Candidates to Make Testimonials for you NIW (National Interest Waiver) petition

Application for NIW (National Interest Waiver) is a long journey. During the process of helping clients of us 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/reference letters?" We always take time with our clients to discuss good candidates for their NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letters/reference letters because recommenders are essential in the successful support provided by NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letters/reference letters.

Misunderstanding about NIW (National Interest Waiver) Recommendation letters/reference letters

Many people confuse NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letters/reference letters for I-140 petition with those for advance education. Usually, a NIW (National Interest Waiver) 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 the applicant unique and perfect for the programs to which they've applied. However, NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letters/reference letters for I-140 petition focus on the foreign national's influence and contribution to the field of the endeavor. They do not necessarily come from people who know them personally or in depth.

NIW (National Interest Waiver) Recommendation letters/Reference Letters from Outside the Petitioner's Immediate Circle of Acquaintances Carry More Weight

Lawyers in North America Immigration Law Group advise our NIW (National Interest Waiver) clients to obtain strong letters from both their "inner circle" and "outer circle" of peers. The inner circle includes those they have directly worked with either in academia or in business. Lawyers in our firm always remind our clients that while these inner-circle letters are often the most glowing, they are also the most suspect since they are possibly biased. The USCIS expects a foreign national to be able to identify the outer circle of people who may recommend the foreign national. This includes people/organizations that are familiar with the foreign national's work but may have not met the foreign national.

We have found that 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, NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letters/reference 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 USCIS did 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.

"Inner Circle" Bias can be Overcome by other Documentation in your NIW (National Interest Waiver) petition

Some of our NIW (National Interest Waiver) clients asked what they should do if they fail to produce letters from members of the field who do not know him or her. In this case, other methods of demonstrating national recognition are possible. What documentation can be used to serve this purpose can be referred back to the EB-1 "extraordinary ability" standards. Petitioners should submit articles they have published in noteworthy trade publications. The AAO has also been persuaded by NIW (National Interest Waiver) petitioners who show that their work has been cited internationally. Finally, the fact that all the referees in a given petition are personally acquainted with the petitioner can be overcome by the notability of the referees. In one NIW (National Interest Waiver) case, the AAO ignored the acquaintance of the referees with the petitioner since all the referees were researchers at Johns Hopkins, one of the world's leading medical research institutions.

For clients who are not able to solicit independent recommendation letters for their NIW (National Interest Waiver) petition, we suggest our clients to obtain favorable manuscripts from the peer review process. Most scholarly journals put all articles through a peer review process before publication. Many of these journals maintain manuscripts from the peer review process. Peer review manuscripts represent the opinions of unbiased, anonymous observers of the author's research. If they comment favorably on the author's work, they are convincing evidence of the petitioner's accomplishments. In two recent cases, the AAO was persuaded by peer review manuscripts in a NIW case.

People who are More Prestigious NIW (National Interest Waiver) Recommendation/Reference Letter Writers

From years of experience, we have found that think tanks, government agencies, and university professors are the more prestigious letter writers for NIW references. For NIW (National Interest Waiver) cases, recommendation /reference letters from government officials especially help substantially.

As suggested by the USCIS in its NIW (National Interest Waiver) adjudication 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.

Supporting NIW (National Interest Waiver) letters from Experts or Authorities Carry More Weight.

Generally, individuals recognized as authorities or experts in the field are given greater weight as a NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letter writer given that they are regarded to have more authoritative opinions upon the petitioner's research.

In the NIW (National Interest Waiver) recommendation letter, a statement should be included in the support letter that establishes the qualifications of these individuals to judge the alien's work. NIW (National Interest Waiver) 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 NIW (National Interest Waiver) 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 NIW (National Interest Waiver) 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.

To sum up, keep in mind that adjusting officers of NIW (National Interest Waiver) cases 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.

About NIW (National Interest Waiver) Recommendation Letter

Strong reference letters are key to a successful NIW case. Our firm has realized the significant role reference letters play in the success of an NIW approval and we therefore draft reference letters for our clients to individualize each letter without extra charge. We are of the opinion that drafting a good reference letter requires a good understanding of the immigration law and USCIS regulations and these cannot be replaced by templates.

Filing an NIW petition is a significant step and should not be taken lightly. Don't file an NIW petition just to "Give it a shot!" Due to the recent prolonged processing time, reckless filing will substantially delay the time you receive a green card. Moreover, although the law does not preclude the possibility of repeated filing under the same category, if you file another NIW petition after the rejected one without having significant improvement of your credentials, your case will very likely be rejected again.