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How to Choose the Best Reference/Recommender for Your EB-2 (National Interest Waiver) Case

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How to Choose the Best Reference/Recommender for Your EB-2 (National Interest Waiver) Case

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 "how should I choose the best reference for my recommendation letters/reference letters?"

At North America Immigration Law Group, after clients retain us for their NIW (National Interest Waiver) petitions, the first thing we do is to have a detailed discussion about the clients' case with them, suggesting the number of reference (recommendation) letters they need, and discussing the list of people who can be their references. It can take some time to go through the list but it ensures that we have a list of strong recommenders for our clients' NIW cases.

Many people confuse reference/recommendation letters for I-140 petition with those for advance education or employment. Usually, a recommendation letter for graduate school or PhD program is a detailed discussion of the personal qualities, accomplishments, and experiences that make the candidate unique and perfect for the programs or positions. However, reference/recommendation letters for I-140 petition focus on the alien's influence and contribution to the field of the endeavor. They do not necessarily come from people who know the alien personally or in depth. As a matter of fact, in many occasions, a letter from someone who does not know the applicant at all is a better candidate for such a letter.

1. Reference/Recommendation Letters from Outside the Alien's Immediate Circle of Acquaintances Carry more Weight

The USCIS takes the position that an individual with 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. According to AAO decisions and the USCIS memo, if an NIW (National Interest Waiver) applicant's contributions are not praised widely outside his or her current and former circle of acquaintances, then it cannot be concluded that the applicant earned sustained national or international acclaim or is truly exceptional or outstanding. Moreover, objectivity is one of the factors considered by the USCIS. Letters of support from other employees of the same organization that is currently employing the alien beneficiary or seeks to employ the alien beneficiary are not preferred on the basis that they lack objectivity.

2. Reference/Recommendation Letters from Experts in the Same Field Have More Authority

Generally, individuals recognized as experts in the field are given greater weight because their statements are more authoritative. In the reference/recommendation letter, a statement should be included that establishes the qualifications of these individuals to judge the alien's work. Reference/recommendation 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.

3. A Reference/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 work and significance of contribution.

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

As suggested by 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 NIW (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.