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Teacher and Researcher in Autism Spectrum Disorders Failed to Qualify for a National Interest Waiver

In Matter of C-K-D-, 2017 WL 2224919 (TSC May 2, 2017) a Teacher and Researcher in Autism Spectrum Disorders failed to qualify for a National Interest Waiver as the petitioner did not meet all three prongs of Matter of DHANASAR, 26 I. & N. Dec. 884 (AAO 2016).  We described the national interest waiver framework in an earlier blog.

Petitioner’s Claim: Alien is an innovative teacher and educational program developer for students with autism spectrum disorder.   The alien uses expertise for the development and expansion of novel teaching and assessment methods of ASD to increase the knowledge base and understanding of educational approaches and curricula that engender improvement in the verbal, cognitive, and behavioral skills of children along the autism spectrum.  Her research in mirror intervention and self-awareness in students with ASD is seminal and groundbreaking.

Evidence presented: Curriculum Vitae, showing M.S. in education; Experience as public school teacher, graduate assistant and internship coordinator; Pursuing a doctorate degree in exceptional education PhD program; Evidence of published work, conference presentations, and professional membership; Reference letters discussing educational background, teaching experience, and research projects; Part of a group that helped revise training program; Receipt of special education grant, invitation to publish and present research.  Journal articles, conference presentations, Letters from faculty discussing research concerning ASD students, and research’s potential benefits to the nation’s educational system as the results are disseminated to others in the field through education journals and conferences; Some of the evidence was not available until after the I-140 was filed and was submitted as a response to RFE. 

  1. Proposed endeavor merit and national importance (Yes, meets this prong): The alien will continue to teach and research to further “the goal of improving education and programs for U.S. children,” in  developing and expanding novel instructional and assessment methods to improve the verbal, cognitive, and behavioral skills of ASD students.   Both teaching and research have merit, but only research is of national importance.  Teaching would not be national in scope as classroom instructions are limited to the students at the institution where the alien teaches.  Nevertheless, the endeavor is of national importance as the research has national implication.
  2. Whether the alien is well positioned (No, doesn’t not meet this prong): Alien has M.S. in education, and is pursuing PhD.  She has teaching experience and has some publications.  The record does not demonstrate success or progress in the field, or a degree of interest in the work from relevant parties that rises to the level of rendering her well positioned to advance the proposed research endeavor.  Research has not been frequently cited by independent educational scholars or otherwise served as an impetus for progress in the field, nor has it generated substantial positive discourse in the broader academic community.  The record does not indicate that the findings have been implemented as part of ASD education initiative, or that he work has affected special education practices.
  3. Balancing (No, doesn’t meet this prong): Alien claimed that it was very unlikely that available US applicant would meet even the minimum acceptable criteria. Alien claimed that she possesses “intangible qualities that could not be adequately stated or demonstrated through the labor certification process.” Alien has not demonstrated that she presents benefits to the US through her proposed endeavor that outweighs those inherent in the labor certification process.  With respect to development and expansion of novel teaching and assessment methods that improve ASD students’ learning environment and social functioning, she has not shown an urgent national interest in her efforts to achieve this aim, nor that she offers contributions of such value that, overall, they would benefit the nation even if other qualified US workers were available.

If you have any questions regarding eligibility for a National Interest Waiver, the immigration attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer will be happy to assist you.  You can reach us online or via telephone at (773) 516-4100.