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I’m an engineer working at a company. I have never published papers or patents. How can I qualify for an NIW?

An engineer and their plans

Authorship of academic papers and patents does tend to make an NIW (national interest waiver) green card case stronger for an engineer (which can be true for other professionals too). This is because the government thinks publication of papers and patents contribute new insights to your field and as a result, influence the work of other experts in your field.

Having said that, we have led many successful cases for applicants who had not published any papers or patents, but nevertheless through creative case strategy, was able to show a significant degree of influence and impact in their fields through other forms of evidence.

Depending on the strength and volume of these other forms of evidence, it can certainly be within reach for an engineer, or any other professional, to qualify for an EB2 NIW green card even with zero papers or patents. Here are some examples to consider.

Significant industry (or government) interest on your specific proposed endeavor, in which you are playing a leading and critical role.

If you’re a co-founder of an innovative venture, and this venture received significant 3rd-party validation in the form of incubator admission, accelerator admission, receipt of VC funding, and/or press articles featuring your venture, you may have a good case here at showing that your work stands to offer nationally important, broad benefits to your field and to the economy.

These objective forms of evidence, in combination of letters from leading industry actors or relevant government agencies, can paint a persuasive picture of industry influence. Another helpful detail is if you participated (in a leading capacity) in projects that were supported by government funding. Letters of intent to collaborate, or contracts, with relevant government or research institutions can help.

Broad media attention on projects you have played (or currently playing) a critical and leading role in.

For example, let’s say you played a leading role in developing a particular medical device that offered many functional advantages to other devices currently available, and it was recognized through “best product of the year” type awards at medical-device industry conferences, and several industry media outlets ran feature articles including a discussion of this product and why it was so groundbreaking. All of these types of evidence can help position you as someone who can influence the industry broadly through your original innovations.

Media attention can be particularly helpful here. In contrast with the EB1A or O1 categories, USCIS doesn’t care too much about the circulation of the particular media outlet or whether your name is specifically mentioned (although it helps if it is). As long as we can support that your role was leading and critical – through expert letters and other evidence – this can help your NIW petition.

Conference presentations, speaking engagements at industry events, and other activities that show thought leadership.

Finally, a straightforward way to boost your profile can be to participate actively in industry events and take on leadership positions to paint a picture of your influence as a thought leader in your field. Being invited to speak at major industry conferences where other experts are attending, membership in a steering committee in your professional organization, being invited to serve as a judge in a competition in your field, can all support the fact that you disseminate valuable expertise and insights broadly to peer experts, which can spark progress and advancement in your field as a whole.

By contrast, mentorship activities or teaching – typically to individuals more junior than you, not your peers – are usually not considered contributions that have broad enough impacts that would rise to the level of national importance.

Applying for a green card is a significant step. Attorneys at Scott Legal have deep experience assisting applicants throughout the journey, which can take multiple years, and provide well informed strategy, support, and guidance at every step. To learn more, please check out our free resources below. You can also schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers to discuss your case in more detail.

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This website and blog constitutes attorney advertising. Do not consider anything in this website or blog legal advice and nothing in this website constitutes an attorney-client relationship being formed. Set up a one-hour consultation with us before acting on anything you read here. Past results are no guarantee of future results and prior results do not imply or predict future results. Each case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

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