Less is More: The art of NIW or EB-1 Petition Letters

“Less is more” is a motto adopted by contemporary architects after World War II. This principle describes “aesthetic tactics of flattening and emphasizing the building's frame, eliminating interior walls and adopting an open plan, and reducing the structure to a strong, transparent, elegant skin.” (from Wikipedia)

“Less is more” evolved from a broad movement in various forms of art and design, named “minimalism,” which emphasizes the most fundamental features in art and design.

The writing of petition letters of NIW and EB-1 cases could be an art. The attorney is picturing the petitioner to an immigration officer via a petition letter.

It has been a widely asked question--what is a good petition letter? We believe the aesthetic rule applies to writing of petition letter too. Less is more! A simple, clean and concise petition letter is more powerful and impressive than a redundant and complicated article. There is a common misunderstanding among applicants and some attorneys. They think the longer, the better for a petition letter. It is not rare to see attorneys flaunt the length of a petition letter. It seems that the more pages are there in a petition, the more confidence the applicant may have about the success chance of a case.

However, based on our practice experience, we know this may not be true. What matters is not the length, but the logic and presentation of the applicant’s credentials .

Writing a petition letter is like selling a product. The immigration officer is the target customer and the applicant’s case is the product, and the attorney is the sales person. The petition letter is the communication vehicle between the attorney and the immigration officer. In order to sell a product, the sales person needs to study his/her customer, especially the customer’s characteristics, taste and preference, and then present the product’s features which are appealing to the customer.

The immigration officer is the target customer. They can hardly be experts in an applicant’s academic field. They may have very limited knowledge about an applicant’s research expertise. Immigration officers review a large number of applications everyday. They cannot allocate too much time and efforts to understand the technicalities of the applicant’s research or work. If a petition letter uses a lot of technical jargons, an immigration officer may get lost. The purpose of a petition letter is not to educate the immigration officer for a specific area, but to convince him/her that the applicant’s case is approvable and should be approved. A good petition letter should use simple but interesting language to picture an applicant to the immigration officer. It should help the immigration officer understand the applicant’s qualifications and lay the foundations for the immigration officer to approve the case. In our phone communication with immigration officers, they have clearly indicated that they like to see “clean, logic, and presentable” petition letter, rather than “spaghetti writing.”  

Some attorneys like to present all of an applicant’s accomplishments in a petition letter. They believe the rule of “the more, the better” in writing petition letters. Writing a petition letter is like selling a product. In order to distinguish from competitors, a brand must have its unique selling propositions, which are special features its competitors do not possess. Similarly, a good petition letter should briefly lay out the basic qualifications of an applicant, but the emphasis is the applicant’s special and most important features. These features are the unique selling proposition of the applicant. They may draw the immigration officer’s attention and enhance the approval chance of the case. For example, if the applicant is a post doctoral researcher, it is not necessary to describe his/her research projects in the bachelor’s or master’s program in a petition letter. Unimportant credentials, such as, membership obtained by paying an annual fee (for example, IEEE), high GPA in a Ph.D. program, and graduate school research awards won’t increase the persuasive power of a petition letter. These features can hardly influence national interest in a nation-wide scope or demonstrate the applicants are among the most able and accomplished in their respective fields.  

On contrary, unimportant or irrelevant evidence in a petition letter trivializes or weakens the important evidence. As opposed to the rule of “the more, the better,” “less” means more chance of success of a case, as long as the attorney can present the most important and unique achievements of the applicant in the petition letter. Don’t underestimate the immigration officers’ observational ability. They may have reviewed hundreds of applications. They can identify the core credentials of an applicant in a short time. They know how to judge the quality of the petition letter. As an immigration officer told us: “dirty in, dirty out!” If the petition letter is complicated or hard to follow, an easy response is a denial or “RFE.”
A simple and dynamic petition letter can significantly enhance the chance of success of an EB-1 or NIW case.

Less is more. Simplicity has its beauty.

The fifty-five professionals at Zhang & Associates, P.C. are committed to providing high quality work and professional services to our clients.

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