Case: NIW or EB-1(b), Which is the Better Choice?

In March 2008, we helped a client, Dr. Lee,* get her green card within 6 months of USCIS receiving her case.

On 12/28/2006, Dr. Lee took advantage of our free green card application evaluation service and emailed Attorney Zhang ( a copy of her CV. After carefully reviewing Dr. Lee’s education and research background, Attorney Zhang believed that Dr. Lee was eligible to file both EB-1(b) and NIW green card applications.

Dr. Lee obtained both her B.S. and M.S. in Plant Pathology in Taiwan, and then went on to get her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from a distinguished Canadian university. When she first contacted our office on 12/28/2006, she had already worked as an associate professor in the biology department of a college in the United States for more than three years, teaching and researching cell differentiation and dedifferentiation, and regeneration of tissues using molecular, plant, and microbiological techniques. Her research achievements were highly recognized, and she was internationally recognized as outstanding in her scientific field.

Generally speaking, the achievement requirements for EB-1(b) are higher than for NIW. Furthermore, the largest difference between EB-1(b) and NIW is that an EB-1(b) petition requires the sponsorship of an employer; an NIW applicant can file a petition by him or herself. For an EB-1(b) petition, the sponsoring employer is required to provide a letter of employment and sign the prepared forms. EB-1(b) applicants also have the option of using USCIS’s premium processing service: if the applicant pays $1,000 to USCIS, they will process the case within 15 days. (Please note, USCIS suspended the premium processing service for I-140 in July 2007 and has not restored it.)

Dr. Lee wondered which was the better choice for her: EB-1(b), NIW, or both. Although Dr. Lee’s employer was willing to support her immigration petition, the college had no experience sponsoring green card applications. So Attorney Zhang suggested that she file both EB-1(b) and NIW together at first to have a greater chance of approval.

Unfortunately, we found later that Dr. Lee’s job offered by this college could not be classified as a permanent job offer. One of the requirements for EB-1(b) is that the alien beneficiary receives a permanent job offer from the sponsoring employer.  USCIS has released a memo clarifying the definition of “permanent employment” when considering EB-1(b) petitions. In that memo, “permanent” is defined as “either tenured, tenure-track, or for an indefinite or unlimited duration, and in which the employee will ordinarily have an expectation of continued employment unless there is good cause for termination.” Dr. Lee’s job offer did not fulfill this requirement, as her employment had a limited duration. For more information about the permanent employment requirement for EB-1(b) petitions, please click here.

Attorney Zhang had to advise Dr. Lee to abandon the EB-1(b) petition, as we have an obligation to help our clients avoid wasting time and money. However, Dr. Lee was satisfied with the pre-contract service we provided, so she signed an NIW petition contract with our firm on 4/5/2007. The new case was assigned to an Attorney, who has extensive experience with NIW applications. The Attorney contacted Dr. Lee and began to prepare this petition at once.

The Attorney conducted extensive research on this case and then prepared a tailor-made petition package based on Dr. Lee’s specific background and achievements, including a well-drafted petition letter; seven recommendation letters, one of which was drafted by an independent evaluator; and all the other supporting documents. In the petition letter, the Attorney emphasized that as an outstanding scientist with a strong background in microbiology and plant biology, and exceptional modern molecular techniques and research skills, Dr. Lee has been able to produce important results that have greatly advanced this field.

At that time—in late June and July, one of our busiest times ever—our firm was working at full capacity. During that period, USCIS and the Department of Labor opened the employment-based visa bulletin for all categories. Therefore, numerous aliens rushed to submit their petitions before the deadline. Nonetheless, our attorneys and supporting staff worked hard to prepare Dr. Lee’s case. We filed her I-140 petition on 7/26/2007, before the July 30 deadline. Several days later, on 8/6/2007, we filed her I-485 petition.

Within just six months, on 1/13/2008, Dr. Lee received her NIW I-140 approval notice. And a short time later, on 3/11/2008, her I-485 approval notice also reached our office. (Note: Dr. Lee was born in Taiwan. For all chargeability areas other than China and India, immigration visa numbers for March 2008 were available for EB-2 green card applications. NIW belongs to EB-2.) Dr. Lee was very glad to see the final approval notice. She wrote to Attorney Zhang:

“Thank you for helping me to apply for a green card.  I applied it at the end of July and got it on end of February.  Please pass my regards to my attorney. Again, thank you all very much!”

Our attorneys and supporting professionals were also very happy with the result of Dr. Lee’s case. We attribute the success of Dr. Lee’s application to her cooperation and our firm’s teamwork. In addition, we appreciate Dr. Lee’s trust and her referral of another client to our firm.

*In order to protect our clients’ privacy, all of their identifying information has been changed.


An attorney’s expertise and experience play a critical role in an NIW green card application. Our attorneys have extensive experience in NIW applications. In the past 12 years, we have successfully handled thousands of NIW applications with an extremely high overall approval rate.

If you plan to file an NIW application, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang ( for a free evaluation.


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Tel:1-800-230-7040, 713-771-8433



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