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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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07/03/12
Immigration. Expert opinion letter
Filed under: Mentoring, Post-docs, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 8:25 am

We worked on VRs CV for his post-doc several
years ago and recently we met in person at a
research center review at an offsite location and
dined together.  His name seemed familiar when
he introduced himself, yet he knew who I was and
he intended to speak to me.

VR has been productive in his five years with a
couple of significant publications each
year.  An item that will hold him back from landing
a position is his citizenship.  We spoke about it
recently and he inquired about the possibility
of my providing an expert opinion statement for
his application.

I contacted a mentor, J. Shulman, who provided
insight:  “The letter that VR is requesting will basically
be written by the immigration attorney and modified
by you, as appropriate.  I assume he is applying for
a green card as an outstanding researcher, or
possibly  on a national interest waiver.  In either
case, he will need letters from experts in the field
who can attest to the excellence of his work.  One
part of your letter– written mainly by the attorney–
must demonstrate to the immigration folks that you
have the expertise to evaluate VRs work, based on your
own scientific credentials.

Bottom line:  You might want to talk with VR, and
especially his attorney, to verify that you are one of
of the right people to write the letter.  If they believe
you are, then I would agree to do it.

For perspective, when I did this at P…, I would work
with our immigration attorneys to identify top people
in the field, even if they did not know the student, and
pay them to “write” the letter.  This would involve the
person reading a few key papers and attesting (via a
letter written by the attorney) to the excellence of
the candidate.”

The attorney then “fired off” a note to me:  “As I
believe you know, our firm represents Dr. VR in
connection with his applications for immigration
benefits in the Employment-Based First Preference
Category (EB-1) and in the Employment-Based
Second Preference Category with Waiver of the
Labor Certification Process in the National Interest
(EB-2/NIW).  These types of applications require
that an applicant show, among other things, that he
has “extraordinary” or “exceptional” ability in the
sciences, as those terms are defined in the immigration
regulations.  To show his abilities, we will be
using expert opinion letters from scientists who are
familiar with some of his important achievements
in the field of material science focused on polymers
and their manipulation at a nano-scale to alter their
characteristics and optimize their function.  These
expert opinion letters are very specialized and are
not typical letters of reference or recommendation.
Instead they address such things as reasons that Dr.
VRs contributions should be considered significant,
how he as distinguished himself from his peers, and
why advances in his field of endeavor benefit US
national interests.”

The letter went on to speak to my being an expert
and independent from personal collaboration with
Dr. VR.

So I made an appointment and spoke with
Mr. David Soloway about my concerns and next
steps.
Two interesting items came up in our conversation:
- “billable hours” - Mr Soloway did not try to contact
me despite his letter saying so.  Evidently, he determined
with VR that he would not be compensated for the
time.  I pursued the telecon and reached another
person who delivered the message to talk.  While
reluctant he did talk through my “expert” qualifications
to a satisfactory level and next steps.
- “compensation” As J. Shulman indicated there
can be an offer of compensation for doing this.  The
lawyer did not come forward with this.  So, depending
on the level of effort and complexity of involvement
it will likely be a negotiation.  [fee schedule]

Comments will be added to this entry if more
information or interesting items result.

 

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