Is my award EB-1 or NIW worthy?

One of the criteria for the EB-1 alien of extraordinary ability (EB1A) and outstanding researcher or professor (EB1B) is the receipt of a national or international award (this can also be used for the National Interest Waiver petition). What does this mean, really, and what awards really count for this purpose?

The fact that you have an award alone is not enough. First, consider the type of award received. USCIS places little if any weight on university-specific awards, travel grants, and even many scholarships. Rather, the award must be one that carries some level of prestige on the national or international level. That is, if you told someone else in your field that you won the award, would they be impressed? If they had never heard of it, USCIS likely will not consider it worth much in terms of the EB-1 or NIW petition.

On the other hand, if the award is one that attracts a pool of applicants from across the US, or from across the globe, USCIS is more likely to give it more weight. This is even more likely if you fully document the award – not only documentation that you actually received the award, but documentation about how large the pool of applicants was, how many people received it, the qualifications of the other applicants and/or award-winners, background of the judges who select the awardees, background on the criteria for the award and selection process, and general information about the award, for example. In this environment, thorough documentation, clear presentation, and strong arguments and explanation are key for having an EB-1 or NIW petition approved.

For information on the other EB-1 or NIW criteria, please see https://www.sumnerimmigration.com/images/publications/TipsForAvoidingRFE-VOICE-from-AILA-JanFeb2012.pdf and https://www.sumnerimmigration.com/firm-practice-areas/fast-track-green-cards.

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