The process of writing letters of recommendation (also known as “reference letters” or “support letters”) is one of the most important aspects of preparing an EB-1A or NIW case. It is also very time consuming. Immigration lawyers approach the task of writing recommendation letters in different ways.
First, I’m going to explain what, in our opinion, are the wrong ways to write letters of recommendation, and then I will explain the right way.
The Wrong Way:
- Lawyers who unreasonably expect the references to write the letters without any guidance from the lawyer
Some lawyers will tell you that your references should write the letters by themselves without any guidance from the lawyer. You would expect the references, who are experts in the field, to be able to produce letters that would satisfy USCIS’ legal standards and support the approval of the case. However, there are multiple problems with expecting the experts to complete the letters themselves.
Firstly, the letters have to address the legal standard and your references are not immigration lawyers who understand the legal standard and how to communicate it effectively to the immigration officer who will decide your case. Minor differences in wording can have a significant impact on the meaning of a sentence, and USCIS often denies cases on very minor points such as a misstatement of the legal standard or a failure to address the points required to prove that a researcher actually meets the legal standard.
Secondly, reference letters written without input from you or your lawyer may not explain your research in sufficient detail for the immigration officer to understand the significance of your research accomplishments. Also, without proper guidance from your lawyer, the letters may be extremely difficult for the immigration officer to understand.
Also, as your references are extremely busy with their own jobs, they are often unable to set aside sufficient time to complete your letter of recommendation in a timely manner. This can result in lengthy delays in filing.
- Lawyers who would have you write the letters by yourself without any guidance from the lawyer
Other lawyers will provide you with one or multiple sample letters and then ask you to write all of the letters by yourself without the lawyer assisting you in drafting the letters. We have seen numerous cases prepared by other lawyers where the client brings us the case after receiving an RFE (Request for Evidence) because there were errors in the recommendation letters that would cause an automatic denial. This seems obvious, but it isn’t to many lawyers: It is the lawyer’s job to maximize your chance of approval!
If you do the work, then what are you paying the lawyer for? Writing the letters of recommendation and the cover letter are the two most complex and time consuming tasks involved in the process, and your lawyer should be working for you, not the other way around.
- Lawyers who rely on secretaries or paralegals to write the letters
Paralegals are often excellent employees at law firms, but no college degree is required for such positions. Because the process of preparing an EB-1/NIW petition requires understanding and explaining complex scientific concepts, the job should be done by well educated people. While lawyers will not have as deep an understanding of the science as their researcher clients, a lawyer is in a much better position to understand the science than someone without a college education.
- Lawyers who charge their clients extra to write the letters
Many lawyers who are inexperienced at EB-1/NIW cases charge low fees, but as they are not knowledgeable in this area, they don’t understand what it takes to get a case approved. They think that their job is only to fill out the immigration forms and for that reason, if you hire one of these lawyers, you might be surprised and disappointed to learn that they ask you for more money as soon as you ask for assistance in writing your recommendation letters.
Firstly, no lawyer should ever submit an EB-1/NIW case to USCIS without ensuring that the recommendation letters are properly written. Secondly, knowing that, drafting, rewriting, and producing the final versions of the letters should always be included in the legal fees.
- Lawyers who have their clients write the rough drafts
Many lawyers provide their clients with sample recommendation letters from their prior cases which were granted. The client then writes a rough draft of the letters with the lawyer’s assistance. This strategy works very well when the client is motivated and wants to be closely involved in drafting his or her recommendation letters. The client has a better understanding of his or her research than anyone else, and in an EB-1/NIW case, the client is always an extremely intelligent person.
However, it is up to the lawyer to rewrite the rough drafts of the letters that the client provides and produce the final versions that will be submitted to USCIS. A good lawyer with a significant amount of knowledge and experience in EB-1/NIW cases will always write a better letter than the client can alone and ensure that the final version of the letter is at the level that it should be to maximize the client’s chances of being approved.
- Lawyers who write the letters without the client
This sounds good, but without the assistance of the client who is the most knowledgeable person on the subject, a lawyer will not produce letters that are as good as if they consider the letters a collaboration between lawyer and client. You may be happy to hear that you don’t have to spend any time working on your case at all, but the truth is that if you don’t assist your lawyer in understanding the science and confirming that your lawyer has accurately explained your research findings, then your odds of success are much lower than they should be. You should always be involved in the process if you want to maximize your chance of approval.
The Right Way: The Getson Way
We write the Recommendation Letters with you and any input from your references using open lines of communication because teamwork leads to success.
You do not want to write the letters by yourself because the process of writing full letters is extremely time consuming and because you know that you will not be able to maximize your chances of approval without an experienced EB-1/NIW lawyer.
Most lawyers are simply not flexible to the demands and needs of their clients. We realize that our clients are some of the most brilliant people in their fields, that they are extremely busy, and also that no one understands their science better than they do. In our view, our clients are paying us to assist them in the best possible way to suit their specific needs.
1. We write your Recommendation Letters together with you and any input from your references
In our experience, you and your references always have valuable input that helps us to maximize your chances of approval and for that reason we collaborate with our clients in reviewing all of our drafts, listening to their comments, and discussing their thoughts.
2. Open Lines of Communication through Technology
Our innovative Basecamp software means that nothing is done behind a closed door or hidden from our clients. At the end of each work day, we post all of our work to Basecamp for you and your references to review and comment on. Our clients have peace of mind because a) they know that we are working on their case, b) they can see what kind of work they are getting throughout the process, and c) they know that they can contact us at any time regarding the work they see us producing on their case. Our clients have complete 24/7 access to our files. After all, it is your file, not your lawyer’s.
As soon as we write a rough draft of a letter or save a new draft after rewriting or editing it, our clients receive an email from our Basecamp software saying that work has been completed on their case and is ready for their review. The files are immediately available to our clients, even on their cellphones, so that no matter where they are, they can move their case forward every day, making progress toward their goal. After you finish reading this page, please click on the link to our page explaining how Basecamp works and how it will benefit you when you are ready to begin working on your case with us.
Of course, we provide our clients with unlimited phone discussions, skype/video chat, and emails which are all included in our legal fees.