The outstanding professor/researcher category does not require labor certification, and thus may be especially appealing for faculty and permanent researchers who are considered outstanding by their peers.
The outstanding professor/researcher category process has two steps:
(1) UT Austin petitions the immigration service on behalf of the employee for immigrant classification; and
(2) Once the immigrant petition is approved, if the visa is immediately available (no backlog for country/category), the employee applies for U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident status either by filing an adjustment of status application with the immigration service and waiting in the United States for it to be approved or by applying for consular processing of the immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate in the home country and then going there to interview prior to receiving the visa. It is possible to file the adjustment application at the same time as the immigrant petition, known as "concurrent filing”. This option carries certain risks and benefits, which should be discussed with a Scholar Advisor in ISSS.
In order to be eligible for this category, one must:
(1) be recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic area by presenting evidence in at least two, (but preferably more) of the following areas:
- original scientific or scholarly contributions to the field;
- authorship of scholarly books or articles;
- participation, individually or on a panel, judging the work of others;
- published material about one's work;
- membership in an organization that requires outstanding achievement;
- receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement; and/or
- other comparable evidence.
(2) have at least three years of experience in the field (including work while pursuing graduate studies), and
(3) hold a specific kind of permanent employment:
- Faculty members must hold a tenure-track or tenured position to qualify.
- Researchers must hold a comparable position to qualify, and at UT-Austin we understand this to mean a position of indefinite duration and for which long-term funding (at least several years) is available.
- Postdoctoral fellow and other fellow positions are not considered permanent by the immigration service and do not meet the requirements for "outstanding researcher."
For the strongest petition it is important to present evidence in as many of the categories as possible, while also showing the unique contributions and impact of the research work done, as US CIS now evaluates the evidence presented to gage whether it deems as sufficient for one who is internationally regarded as a leading expert in the field.
Given current USCIS procedures, ISSS strongly recommends initiating the LPR process early so that the best possible evidence can be presented.