How Did We Draft Cover Letters for Successful EB-1A Petitions without RFE in 2022?
Attorney Lunbing Chen Altaffer is the co-founder and current managing member of Altaffer & Chen PLLC, a law firm based in Dallas, Texas. In 2022, Attorney Chen significantly participated in two successful EB-1A petitions, which USCIS granted quickly upon respective receipt of each request for premium processing without RFE (request for evidence). One petitioner was a fund manager, and another was an environmental expert.
Generally, people can learn from others' successes and failures to avoid, or at least make fewer, mistakes that others have experienced, save valuable time, and do better when facing the same or similar situations. On the one hand, legal briefs for immigration cases, such as cover letters of dozens of pages for petitions for an immigration visa for aliens of extraordinary ability (EB-1A petitions), are not publicly available because they are usually privileged attorney work products. On the other, a finely drafted cover letter (or whatever other names it might be called) by competent counsel is crucial for a successful EB-1A petition because such letter can help an immigration examiner rapidly and effectively review the extensive evidence submitted and persuade the examiner to decide in the petitioner's favor. As USCIS has repeatedly emphasized: It is an EB-1A petitioner's, NOT USCIS', responsibility to sort out the voluminous evidence provided and persuade USCIS to grant the petition!
Some experience and strategy from the EB-1A petition for an environmental expert
In this environmental expert case, Attorney Chen had completed the whole petition cover letter of more than 30 pages. She first reviewed numerous documents provided by the petitioner and analyzed every piece of them, then researched online and collected supplemental evidence, further advised, through the attorney who took the case, the petitioner of what additional documentation was needed, and finally commenced writing the cover letter based on her study and understanding of USCIS' review standards and its opinions on relevant cases until completion of the letter. Attorney Chen believed that the cover letter she had carefully authored should be sufficient to convince USCIS to grant the petitioner's petition, and she was later proven to be correct.
Patents can be used to meet the fifth of the ten criteria at 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(h)(3): Original contributions of major significance in the field (patents are discussed here only, though the petitioner has proffered other relevant evidence regarding this criterion). The establishment of the mere existence of a patent is insufficient, the petitioner has to also show the major significance of his or her patent by indicating that it has been widely implemented throughout the field, has remarkably impacted or influenced the field, or has otherwise risen to a level of major significance in the field.
In this petition, the petitioner has obtained, or obtained together with others, dozens of patents during working for various employers, but the application of the patents has been limited to the projects that these employers had undertaken. USCIS basically opines that a patent with limited applications to one's employer(s) is not considered to be widely employed in the field of a petitioner's expertise or have impacted the field significantly. With these in mind, Attorney Chen purposefully and specifically highlighted the prizes or awards granted to some of the patents, the applications of some patents to the employers' projects involving recognized leading or advanced technology at the national level, and so forth. By doing so, Attorney Chen aimed to persuade USCIS that these patents had exerted a key impact on the field as a whole, or at least, had otherwise demonstrated its significance to a major level.
With respect to the internationally or nationally recognized prizes or awards that the petitioner had been granted, one national award was provided along with other evidence. Attorney Chen did not deem the award as sufficient to meet the relevant criterion at first. She was, however, able to present the piece of evidence as persuasive in the cover letter by scrutinizing pertinent information under USCIS' review standards, after she had researched and gathered the information about the award-granting organization and detailed rules for selecting winners. For example, because the petitioner could not offer evidence concerning the number and names of the award past winners that USCIS would like to see, Attorney Chen chose to stress the fact from the rules that the award was held once every two years with a maximum number of winners of 10 to fulfill the burden of proof.
Further, the petitioner had participated in international and national projects of significance. In order to convince USCIS that the participation could be considered the equivalent of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards, Attorney Chen drafted the cover letter in relative part by stating persuasive facts. She pointed out the following: the prestigious reputation of a project sponsor(s) and the large amount or otherwise important meaning of the funds or grants involved, the major significance of the project itself, the widespread coverage of the project(s), and especially, the fact that the petitioner was selected for an international project due to his excellence as he was the sole person from the Chinese project contractor listed in the project agreement between the parties thereto.
Regarding the content of the cover letter about the petitioner's judging activity, Attorney Chen emphasized the below portions of the relevant evidence: the specific key projects in which the petitioner had participated, the petitioner's particular duties as an expert judge, the importance of the projects being judged, the reputation of the project performers, and the decisiveness of the petitioner's opinions as a judge.
For the leading or critical role that the petitioner had played in organizations with a prestigious reputation, it is not hard to prove his role was leading or critical in this case. The possible issue is whether the organizations petitioner had served enjoyed a distinguished reputation in the industry. To overcome the possible hurdles, Attorney Chen listed and elaborated on every notable award and professional qualification certificate of the enterprises, key engineering projects they had fulfilled, their prominent partners, their nationwide and even overseas business, and so on, to establish that all the organizations have prestigious reputations.
Some experience and strategy from the EB-1A petition for a fund manager
Another attorney took the fund manager case initially and then invited Attorney Chen to participate. Having accepted the invitation, Attorney Chen researched more than ten world-famous fund managers, including big shot Warren Edward Buffett, and learned about their particular achievements applauded by the general public, the high respect and praise they received from professionals in the industry, and their paths of success. Additionally, Attorney Chen studied multiple cases decided by USCIS about EB-1A petitions filed by fund managers and then drafted a few petition-related documents. Subsequently, Attorney Chen started drafting the first part of the cover letter while collecting additional evidence from the internet, analyzing each document in length in an attempt to meet five criteria according to USCIS' strict review standards. The five criteria that have been discussed include nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards, authorship of scholarly articles, wide media coverage, leading or critical role in an organization with a prestigious reputation, and high salary (the portion of high salary was added later by the attorney who took the case due to the unavailability of evidence to Attorney Chen at the time).
We would like to share how Attorney Chen prepared the media coverage in the cover letter here only. First, Attorney Chen established that the media were top-rated or major ones; if a newspaper was not well known by the public but its owners were, then the owners were identified with grounds for being famous. Second, Attorney Chen would address that the 11 pieces of media coverage submitted were primarily about the petitioner and the petitioner's work. To achieve that, Attorney Chen highlighted the best part of certain pieces or summarized a lengthy report to efficiently and effectively assist the USCIS examiner in reviewing documents and deciding whether all the media coverage met the regulatory requirements and whether they showed the petitioner was an alien with extraordinary ability in the field.
General cover letter drafting for an EB-1A petition
Attorney Chen has gained extensive experience and skills in legal writing from her multiple years of practice in civil rights cases filed with the U.S. federal courts. She has employed the valuable experience and skills to make powerful arguments supported by evidence to persuade an immigration examiner at a possibly early stage in immigration cases, including but not limited to EB-1A petitions for aliens with extraordinary ability. Therefore, even at the first step of preparing the cover letter for an EB-1A petition, Attorney Chen would draft it with the goal that an examiner will have formed an impression that the petitioner is an alien of extraordinary ability once the examiner has finished reviewing the first portion of the cover letter. And the examiner will confirm or strengthen that impression when further conducting the second step review, a final merits determination. Keep in mind that the principle of free evaluation of evidence is also true of immigration cases.
For purposes of a final merits determination, Attorney Chen would regroup all the evidence submitted and summarize them according to the review standards that USCIS applies. She would (1) succinctly describe how a petitioner has met at least three mandatory requirements showing the petitioner is one of the small percentages who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor with recognized achievements; and (2) list by the timeline each evidence indicating the petitioner's internationally and nationally recognized acclaim, respectively, and briefly explain each evidence if necessary.
Attorney Chen does not make a factual statement without any supporting documentation.
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This blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. The information presented in this blog may not reflect the most up-to-date legal developments and is subject to change at any point in time. The information presented in this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship. Readers of this blog should contact their attorney to obtain advice regarding any particular legal matter. No readers should act or refrain from acting based on the information presented in this blog without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. No representations are made that this blog is error-free. Altaffer & Chen PLLC expressly disclaims all liabilities arising from any actions taken or refrained from based on the information presented in this blog.
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