For a winning NIW petition, the number of citations in quality journals is more important than the number of publications.
On November 21, 2011, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the Immigration Service sustained an appeal of a National Interest Waiver (NIW) case out of the Texas Service Center. This case involved a postdoctoral research associate at a major university who had published the majority of his articles while still completing his PhD. The major factors taken into account by the AAO were:
1. Although the researcher had published only 4 articles, there were 450 citations to the work;
2. Three of the articles appeared in the Journal of American Chemical Society, ” the most cited journal in chemistry” with an impact factor of 8.091 in 2009.
The following language from the AAO findings in the appeal is helpful:
“The AAO takes particular note of the hundreds of documented citations of the petitioner’s published work. While the petitioner has not produced a large volume of published work, the articles he has published have been widely influential, as demonstrated objectively by their very high citation rate…If the petitioner’s published research has been heavily influential in the field, as appears to be the case, then it is not particularly important that he was a student at the time he conducted and published that research. It has no effect on the content of the publications… The record objectively indicates that the petitioner has performed consistently influential research in his specialty. The director did not identify any persuasive negative factors.”
Bottom line: NIW petitions are more compelling when the petitioner has many citations to work published in the leading professional journals in the field, as opposed to voluminous publications that have been cited infrequently and/or have appeared in lesser journals.