(CN) – An Armenian theoretical physicist who self-published a text book and lectures at a California community college does not qualify as an “alien of extraordinary ability” for visa purposes, the 9th circuit ruled.
In a 2-1 decision, the Pasadena-based appellate panel upheld a lower court’s decision to deny 34-year-old Poghos Kazarian an immigration visa.
The court said Kazarian, a tutor and adjunct instructor at Glendale Community College, is “not yet of the caliber that qualifies him as ‘an alien with extraordinary ability.'”
Kazarian applied for an employment-based immigrant visa in 2003, claiming that his work as a theoretical physicist qualified him for a visa. A district court ruled for the Citizenship and Immigration Service, denying Kazarian a visa.
The Armenian appealed, and the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
Though Kazarian submitted several letters of recommendation from colleagues, the court said they were vague and lacked convincing details.
Judge Dorothy Nelson wrote that “although Kazarian is well-respected by his colleagues, he has not yet attained the stature required by the statutory scheme.”
The bar for “extraordinary ability” includes only those with “a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor,” Nelson added.
Though Kazarian, a specialist in “non-Einsteinian theories of gravitation” is a promising young scientist, Nelson wrote, his accomplishments thus far do not meet that standard.
Nelson added that Kazarian may well qualify for an “exceptional ability” visa, for which the bar is set significantly lower, though he would have to show evidence that he was sought after by U.S. employers.
In the dissenting opinion, Judge Harry Pregerson wrote that “forcing Dr. Kazarian to depart from our country would be undoubtedly wasteful and make one think that there is something haywire in our system.”