NIW Case: A Family’s American Dream Realized

In June 2008, we helped a client, Dr. Lee, get four green cards for his family, all within one year from when he first contacted our firm about his I-140 petition.

Dr. Lee obtained both his B.S and M.E degrees in Computer Engineering in Asia, and then got his M.S and PhD degrees in Computer Sciences at a distinguished university in the U.S. When he originally contacted our office in July 2007, he was working as a postdoctoral associate in one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest research centers.

Dr. Lee had been conducting research in computer science, working specifically with the areas of compiler optimizations and automatic vectorization for several years. His research results had appeared in two academic journals, and he had a substantial number of conference publications and presentations. Some of these publications had been widely cited by other researchers in various fields. Dr. Lee was also active in the academic arena, for example, using his expertise to serve as a reviewer for an academic journal.  When he was a doctoral student, he also won a best conference paper award.

After a careful evaluation of Dr. Lee’s CV, Attorney Zhang believed that an immigration petition under a National Interest Waiver (NIW) was a viable option for Dr. Lee and suggested Dr. Lee file an NIW petition.

During late June and July 2007, one of the busiest times ever in firm history, our firm was working at full capacity. Because the visa bulletin at that time was open to all employment-based immigration categories, numerous aliens rushed to submit their immigration petitions to USCIS. Nonetheless, our attorneys and supporting staff worked hard to prepare Dr. Lee’s case.

In the petition letter, we demonstrated that Dr. Lee’s research had already made a significant and noteworthy impact on the field of computer science, particularly as it relates to automatic differentiation and automatic vectorization. We briefly presented Dr. Lee’s scientific research projects and their impacts on the national interest of U.S. His research would directly serve the nation by helping the U.S. take the lead in the area of automatic differentiation and, subsequently, scientific computing, which is clearly beneficial and of substantial intrinsic merit. We emphasized that his employment would benefit the U.S. on a national scope and that his skills and abilities satisfied the requirements for an NIW petition.

We started to prepare Dr. Lee’s case in middle of July, and all the materials were well prepared by 9/7/2007. During the less than two month period, our attorneys and assistants communicated closely with Dr. Lee through mail, email, phone and all other methods in order to file his petition with USCIS completely and efficiently.

The NIW petition package was mailed out on September 10, 2007. The entire package included the petition form, one petition letter, five letters of recommendation one of was drafted by an independent recommender, more than 20 citation documentations showing instances where Dr. Lee’s work had been used by other researchers and other important supporting documents.

After filing the NIW petition, we began to prepare the I-485 petitions for Dr. Lee’s family. Note that at the time, there was no retrogression in the visa bulletin for Dr. Lee’s home country. All four I-485 applications for Dr. Lee’s family were submitted to the USCIS on November 29, 2007, and the USCIS received the petitions on December 3, 2007. And on June 11, 2008 after waiting for less than six months, Dr. Lee was extremely lucky and received his I-140 approval notice. Five days later, USCIS approved the I-485 applications for Dr. Lee’s family. All told, it had been less than one year since Dr. Lee contacted us for his I-140 immigration evaluation.

Dr. Lee was quite excited to hear this good news. Our attorneys and supporting professionals were also very happy with this result. We attribute the success of Dr. Lee’s application to his cooperation and our firm’s teamwork.  

We must admit that Dr. Lee’s case is very lucky. Most cases do not get approved within such a short time; it usually takes USCIS about one year to process I-140 petitions and one to two years to process I-485 applications. The I-140 and I-1485 process can be especially long for petitioners born in China Mainland or India who need to wait for an available visa number to file the I-485 application for EB-2 and EB-3 cases.

However, we still believe that hard work and accumulated credentials of the petitioner pays off. Getting a green card is a vital step in the completion of one’s American dream. One needs to begin paving their road towards this goal at the very beginning of their career. For example, from experience, we know publications are very important in NIW applications. While Dr. Lee did not have a lot of journal publications, he did, however, have an impressive list of conference publications. Many NIW applicants underestimate the importance of conference publications when comparing them to journal publications. In some academic fields, journal publications are much more difficult to get than conference publications. However, publishing a paper in a conference is a much shorter, but not necessarily less critical, process. As demonstrated in this case, conference publications can also serve as strong supporting evidence for an NIW application.

In addition, Dr. Lee’s journal reviewing experience factored in to the success of his application. Journal editors and conference chairs frequently call for reviewers, and doctoral students, researchers and professors should take a proactive role when this kind of opportunity is made available to them. Not only is it useful for immigration purposes but also helpful for one’s professional development. 

In previous articles we discuss how to accumulate evidence in NIW applications, and you may go to this link to access the article and learn more about it:

More is More: Hard Evidence in NIW Applications

*In order to protect our client’s privacy, all 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.

Zhang & Associates, PC.

Houston ∙ New York ∙ Chicago ∙ Austin
Tel:1-800-230-7040, 713-771-8433


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