Published Materials About You
Last month, I wrote the first part in what will eventually be a ten-part article guide on the categories that make up the baseline criteria for an employment-based, first-preference visa for extraordinarily ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, known usually as an “EB-1A.” That article contained a more extensive introduction which I will not reiterate, but it can be found here:
This month, I continue on with one of our other most popular categories, Published Materials.
Published Materials Overview
One of the most straightforward ways to know if someone has achieved acclaim in their field owed to their extraordinary abilities is to see whether or not the media deems their work to be newsworthy. This is perhaps oversimplified, but if a publication is covering you or your work, it indicates you are at least somewhat newsworthy, and USCIS knows this as well as anyone else. Let’s take a look at the actual text of the regulation:
8 CFR 204.5 (h)(3)(iii) – Published material about the alien in professional or major trade publications or other major media relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought. Such evidence shall include the title, date, and author of the material, and any necessary translation.
From the basic language, USCIS has also expanded their interpretation through a 2010 practice memorandum that established a couple more general guidelines that they like to see followed in order to increase the chances of winning this category.
1. Determine whether the published material was related to the alien and the alien’s specific work in the field for which classification is sought.
Simply put, USCIS is not all that interested if you made the news for something unrelated to your extraordinary ability. While it may be quite the bragging right if you saved someone from a burning building and the BBC wrote a nice article about the event, it won’t much help you in an EB1 petition (unless you are claiming to be an extraordinary firefighter)! Keep the focus on you and your work, and you will be in good shape.
Further, we have found that a lot of our clients fall into the common trap of thinking that articles about major projects they worked on will work for the category – unfortunately, they usually do not. If an article is more focused on your work and less on you, it is a good idea to have it at least mention you a few times and establish that the work it is discussing is attributable to you. It cannot merely mention you only in passing; Instead, the article needs to refer to you throughout or at minimum conclusively state that everything discussed is your work. Fairly or unfairly, if we argue that an article about a project you worked on counts as published material about you and that article hardly mentions you, a USCIS Officer will immediately think: “if they are so extraordinary and crucial to this work, why didn’t the article bother saying so definitively?”
Finally, be aware that materials made for PR or advertising purposes will almost never work as they are not true published materials in the spirit of this category. While PR materials can be great supporting evidence of your role in a company (think back to our critical roles discussion last month), they don’t really indicate that you or your work is “newsworthy”. At best, they are just seeking to attract media attention in hopes that your work becomes newsworthy.
While not a requirement, another general guideline to remember is that articles should be relatively recent. If you have good press, but from several years ago, it may give off the wrong impression – i.e. you WERE acclaimed in your field, but you aren’t any more. Using some very good old articles is fine, so long as you have one or two newer ones as well.
Note also that articles written by you for a publication, no matter how major the publication, aren’t really what the category is looking for. For that, stay tuned for a future newsletter post on the “Scholarly Articles” category.
2. Determine whether the publication qualifies as a professional publication or major trade publication or a major media publication.
Arguably even more important than the fact that there was an article published about you is the question of where that article was published.
Now, before you throw up your hands in despair and wait for me to discuss another category next month, let me be clear that we do not expect you to have been on the cover of the Wall Street Journal or TIME Magazine as the only way to satisfy the published materials category (but please give us a call if you were)! The USCIS guidelines include three different types of media because it is well understood that many fields simply do not generate as much news coverage as others.
A professional publication is the first type of media listed, and is typically aimed at professionals in a particular field. For example, if you are an Attorney who got an extensive article written about you on a national bar organization publication, you could use it for the Published Materials category. The obvious key here is that the professional publication be for professionals in your field, or at least a very closely related field.
A trade publication is similar, but typically targets a particular industry, not necessarily just the professionals in that field. For instance, if you are a game designer and have an article written about you in Game Informer magazine, you have a good instance of a trade publication article written about you. Again, having the publication be written for your industry is important.
Finally, what USCIS refers to as “major media” really is mainstream press appealing to mass audiences. Given the broad appeal here, it is less important to have the publication be centered around your field. On the flip side though, to call something “major media” is a tougher standard to meet than establishing an industry publication. Be wary of press that is too regional- small town papers simple will not carry the weight of more famous newspapers and websites. If you do have press that qualifies as major media, then your case is that much stronger because it shows that you and your work have exceeded merely internal industry attention and broke through to mainstream notoriety.
No matter what type of press articles about you appear in, the last important thing to establish is the publication’s circulation numbers. On this question, things are relative to an extent – to reach out to an earlier example, a particular national Bar magazine for lawyers may be the biggest of its kind and only go out to tens of thousands of people. So long as you can show a professional or trade publication’s circulation is above most of its main competitors and it is one of the leading publications in a particular field, it will generally suffice for the category. To qualify as major media, you should show that the mainstream publication you are submitting is a leading national paper, magazine, or website. In the United States, most papers of major cities will do just fine, as would most high-traffic news websites, like cnn.com.
Once you have solidified an article about you and made sure that article is in a strong enough publication, you will be set to begin your published materials category. While the regulation does not include plural language, and as such one article may technically be enough, we generally recommend a minimum of 2-3 to prevent the reviewing officer from thinking that a single article was an anomalous fluke. Thus, if you have one good article published about you, pursue a couple more. After all, the fact that one got published should indicate that your work is indeed newsworthy!
I hope this article was helpful to you in getting a general overview of the Published Materials category. I will be back next month to cover another category, but if you don’t want to wait, get in touch with us to see if applying for an EB-1A is the right choice for you!
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Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
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