EB1A I-140 Complete Petition Example for US green card
My complete EB-1A petition example
This is not legal advice. The information I provide here is my story, to help you understand what are the requirements for the EB-1A I-140 petition and how to draft it yourself.
I am Razvan Marinescu, a Romanian national who was approved for an EB-1A petition for aliens of extraordinary ability. I did my PhD in the Center for Medical Image Computing at UCL with Daniel Alexander, and then I pursued a postdoc at MIT CSAIL with Polina Golland. Towards the end of my postdoc, I applied for faculty positions in the United States, and also decided to co-found a start-up in Machine Learning for Biology with Ashwin Lokapally, who I met at MIT while we were both postdocs there. Since starting a company is difficult without a green card, I decided to apply for a green card. However, MIT could only apply for green cards for faculty, so as a postdoc, they could not petition an application for me. I knew one could self-petition, but I initially thought that the requirements were so high that only tenure-track faculty could satisfy them.
However, in Feb 2020, I realized that I could self-petition even as a postdoc, as the work I published several scientific articles which had a total of 300+ citations (at that time), which was enough to satisfy the requirements of 1) original scientific contributions of major significance to the field and 2) authorship of scholarly articles. In addition, given that I reviewed 25+ conference and journal articles, I could also satisfy criteria 3) judge the work of others. Finally, given that I co-organized TADPOLE a major international competition of Machine Learning algorithms, and I was the President of the MIT Postdoctoral Association, I was also able to make a strong case for an additional criterion 4) evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations. While the EB-1A requires one to satisfy only 3 criteria, I recommend to provide evidence for an additional criteria as a back-up, if one has adequate evidence.
Why I self-petitioned without a lawyer?
Given that this is an application about my work, I decided that it was best if I present it myself instead of delegating a lawyer to do it. Put otherwise, I strongly believed I could do a better application since I knew my work best, as opposed to a lawyer who would’ve just met me.
In addition, even if you go with a lawyer, you still do 70-80% of the work yourself: they ask you to fill in an 80-page form describing all your work so far, you have to gather all evidence (scientific articles, diplomas, transcripts, reviews you did, …), you have to draft the reference letters and email the letter writers yourself, etc … Some lawyers offer to draft the reference letters for you, but I don’t understand how they can do that since they don’t know what your interaction was with the letter writer. And you need to have several zoom calls with the lawyer, go back and forth with the documents (they send you written feedback on the drafts, etc ..), and that can easily take several months. If you work full-time on it, you can finish it in approximately 1 month.
The EB-1A application of Andrey Solovyev was the most helpful towards building my own (thank you Andrey!). I also paid for a DIY service to get access to three other EB-1A petitions, but I don’t think you’ll need that, as my blog and Andrey’s covers most of what you need.
When I finished the application, I nontheless consulted with a lawyer to do a final check on it. Towards this, I used the services of Yaming Gao. I recommend him, and back then I paid $120 for a 1-hour consultation. They can check that you included all the documents, that you signed all forms and filled in the checks correctly, and can read through to see if you provide sufficient evidence towards the 3 criteria you chose.
Nonetheless, I recommend that if you’re still unsure about various things, you go with a lawyer just to have peace of mind. In addition, for EB2-NIW, since they don’t have premium processing, you don’t want the application to fail after waiting 7-8 months, so it makes more sense to go with a lawyer for EB2-NIW. However, the criteria is lower with EB2-NIW, so if you don’t satisfy the EB1A criteria, you will have to do that anyway.
- Submitted I-140 with Premium Processing (PP): 4 Aug 2021
- I-140 approved: 11 Aug 2021
- I-485 submitted: 24 Sept 2021
- Biometrics: 4 Nov 2022
- Medical RFE: 23 Dec 2021
- EAD/AP Approved: 3 Feb 2022
- I-485 Approved: 7 Feb 2022
Before starting, decide which of 3-4 criteria you will provide evidence for and make a plan of what evidence to gather
The title is self-explanatory. Start by reading the official requirements, and also the requirements of each criteria as written in the Kazarian Guidance. Finally, it is really helpful to read the Kazarian v USCIS story on wikipedia as it contains the exact nuances of where the thresholds are for approval of each criteria. It is important to note that the Kazarian case is what USCIS officers use to make the decision. Once you study that, you have almost the same information as the officers in judging if your case can pass the criteria. As with any application, there is some discretion the USCIS officers have, and you cannot guarantte that your application will be approved. However, given that EB1A has PP, you can get the answer back in two weeks, improve your application and submit a new updated application. You can apply as many times as you want, but you have to pay for each new application. If there is any minor issue, you will likely only get an RFE, to which you can reply back, without having your application rejected.
I had 8 reference letters from professors in academia as well as industry managers. They are ideally from people that are well-known in their field of endeavour (e.g. professors known in their research fields, people in mid-/upper-management in companies, etc …). They should also provide substance by talking concretely about your projects, so it’s important that they know you or have heard of you. It is also important that they provide evidence towards those specific criteria that you chose: so if you choose to provide evidence for the leadership criterion, they need to talk concretely about specific organizations/key-projects/etc where you were a leader.
Reference letter writers should also ideally not be in your immediate collaborator circle. Rather it can be someone who cited your work, used your work for developing a downstream project, or who used your work towards building a product in their company, etc … It is important that they not only describe your work, but highlight the impact your work had in the academic field or in their company.
If any of them were very busy, I offered to draft the letters myself, and they had the option to change anything before putting it in letterhead.
Concurrent filing of I-140 and I-485
Given that I used Premium Processing (PP), I did not submmit it concurrently with I-485 because I could hear back from the I-140 petition in max 2 weeks. If you submit an EB2-NIW, it is probably better to submit concurrently because the criteria is easier to satisfy and they do not have PP.
Why did I not submit EB2-NIW?
They did not have PP for EB2-NIW, and for me, timing was most important. I needed the green card as soon as possible.
How about people from India and China applying for EB2-NIW?
As of 2021, people from India and China have to wait significantly longer times to get their application through EB2-NIW, so EB1-A can be their only choice. There is no backlog for EB-1A. If you are from India or China, I hope my application helps you understand if you satisfy the criteria, and helps you put together a strong application.
For any questions, please do not email me directly. Instead, raise an issue on github, and I will reply there. This way, others can see the answers, and I will not need to answer the same question multiple times. Also see this reddit post where I answered several questions on my application:
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