Based on current changes on immigration and in the answers that people are getting back from their applications, a minimum of 1,000 citations are being requested. Usually it’s common to send a copy or the link for your google scholar, and they also compare you with your co-authors citations. Beside this, at least 15-20 paper revisions. Additionally, poster presentation, conferences, and patents will be accounted. So, unless the papers from your thesis have plenty of citations, usually it’s hard to reach so many citations just with a few years of post-doc, especially if you work is in a specific area, or some topic that is not really “hot” at the moment. The good part is that the first part of EB-1A will take just 15 days if you pay the “rush fee”.
First part of the green card is I-140, and the second part is I-485. If you are ROW (Rest Of the World), which does not include India and China, then you can file both parts at the same time, co-currently, or not. For China and India fillers, the I-140 will follow the same rules as ROW, but for the I-485, they need to wait their Visa to be current until they apply, and that can take years. Personally, I think co-currently filing does not save any time for ROW, but in some cases, they are necessary. For example, when you file I-485, you can also file (with no fee) the I-131, which is the travel authorization (AP), and I-765, which is the EAD (work card authorization). So, if your Visa is going to expire while you are waiting for the green card, you will need the EAD to work, and consequently, you need to file I-485 at the same time of I-140.
Remember that I-485 must be filed before your Visa expires. But, if you have a Visa in good stand you should NOT use the EAD card, because after you use the EAD, your status will be “I-485 pending”, and you won’t have a Visa. You will be legal to stay and work, but in case the green card gets denied you must leave the country ASAP. If you don’t have a valid Visa, your status will be illegal as soon as the green card gets denied. That’s why you should always keep a valid Visa if possible. Also, if the green card gets denied, the time that your status was “I-485 pending” will count as illegal-stay later. But, let focus on the bright side.
For I-140 NIW (National Interest Waiver) there was a change in the end of 2016. Before the cases were analyzed based on the case NYSDOT, but now they are analyzed based on Dhanasar. Before there were 3 pillars that you had to fill to prove that you were important inside your area, focusing mostly on citation of scientific papers, paper revisions and patents. But this focused a lot on scientist in the biology field. Other areas, whereas paper publication is not as important as patent or technological implementation were in disadvantage with those concepts.
So, the new rule based on a different case now considers everything that the person has produced, so it’s wider. The cases for NIW are always based on previous cases, so in your petition you need to prove that you fulfill the minimum requisites of the Dhanasar case.
Besides the petition, you need to send many more documents together with the I-140. The ones that can consume more time are the translation and certification of your highest diploma. At USCIS website there is a list of places that they accept the translation from. It can take a few weeks so you should start with this document first. You might need to find the papers that have cited your paper to send them as an example of citation. And, of course, 4-6 letters of recommendations, whereas one can be from someone that published/worked with you (such as your PI), and the others are from people that know you but never published/worked with you before.
After putting everything together, file I-140 and start the wait. Currently, time is varying between Texas and Nebraska centers, but it is taken more than 12 months on average. USCIS keep their calendar updated online, and you can check which month they are analyzing. If the calendar indicates a date that is prior to your receipt date, you can raise a SR (service request) to check why your case is taking longer than normal. If you filed I-485 at the same time, you won’t have any answer until I-140 get approved, but you will have an appointment for the fingerprints and picture. And your background check might be done while your I-140 is pending.
For the I-485 you also have to send medical exams to prove that you don’t have any infectious disease of public concern, such as HIV, gonorrhea, and tuberculosis. The medical form has to be filled by the doctor and the envelope must be sealed when you send to USCIS. The authorized doctors list can be found at USCIS website. Their price varies a lot based on the vaccination information you have documented or not from your home country. The more vaccines you need to get, the more expensive will be.
Since March 6th, 2017, I-485 fillers under EB-2 category will have an interview. Although NIW is a self-petition, and does not depend on a job offer, it is not clear if NIW will be included in the interview process. But 5-10% of the cases in any category is usually selected for random interviews. Even if NIW does not require a job offer, you will have to include an employment proof, last three W2 and tax return in your I-485 file to prove that you won’t be a burn to the government. The most complicated part of the process is for sure I-140. The I-485 is more straight forward. Some lawyers offer a “Do-it-by-yourself” booklet for I-485, when clients hold them for the I-140. But, with the new interview step, some people are chosen to have a lawyer present for the interview.
Don’t forget about the J1 waiver for the 212e rule in case you are subject. I have another post dedicated just for this topic. Even if you have the travel authorization (AP), make sure you are okay to come back in case you decide to leave the country. If your green card gets approved or denied while you are out, you cannot use the AP to come back. Also, after you file your I-485, you won’t be able to get a non-immigrant Visa, such as J1. After 180 days of I-485 pending, you can change jobs, but USCIS should be informed. You always need to keep the job inside your category, so you should have the same duties in your new job as you had in the old one, even if the title is not the same. Even after the green card, you need to keep the job inside your field/area.
After filling I-140 and I-485, you have just to wait and wait. Be patient! The line will reach your case.