What is the National Interest Waiver (NIW)?
A foreign national may apply for permanent residence status (Green Card) and seek a waiver of the offer of employment by establishing that his (her) admission to permanent residence would be in the National Interest.
There is no rule or statutory standard as to what will qualify an alien for aNational Interest Waiver, according to USCIS. USCIS considers each case on an individual basis.
The procedure is to file the case with evidence to establish that the your admission to the United States for Permanent Residence would be in the national interest.
Benefits of the National Interest Waiver:
NoLabor Certificationrequired: A big plus sincePERM petitions are taking up to 24 months for certification.
You may self-sponsor your petition.
Who Qualifies for the National Interest Waiver?
The beneficiary of a National Interest Waiver petition must qualify as either an “Advanced Degree Professional” or an “Alien of Exceptional Ability“.
Advanced Degree Professional:
To qualify for the National Interest Waiver under the Advanced Degree Professional category, the applicant must possess an advanced degree (Master’s Degree, MD or PhD) or its foreign equivalent (we recommend usingTrustfortefor academic evaluations of foreign degrees).
A Bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive work experience in a professional occupation also satisfies the qualification requirement of an advanced degree.
Alien of Exceptional Ability:
To qualify for the National Interest Waiver under the Alien of Exceptional Ability category, the applicant must demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, through at leastthreeof the following:
- An official academic record showing that the alien has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;
- Evidence in the form of letter(s) from current or former employer(s) showing that the alien has at leastten yearsof full-time experience in the occupation for which he or she is being sought;
- A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
- Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary, or other remuneration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability;
- Evidence of membership in professional associations; and/or
- Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations.
The majority of National Interest Waiver petitions are filed by Postdoctoral Researchers. The following is a summary of the most important evidence to submit:
- Letters of Recommendation.
- Peer Reviewed Publications.
- Cited Publications.
- Conference Presentations.
Matter of Dhanasar:
The currentcriteria for aNational Interest Waiveris fromMatter of Dhanasar.
In the Dhanasar case, the court held that the following three criteria must be met:
- Theforeign national’s proposed endeavor has bothsubstantial merit, and the benefits arenational in scope,
- Theforeign national is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and
- On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.
Substantial Merit underMatter of Dhanasar
In Matter of Dhanasar the AAO recognized that the prior interpretation of the National Interest Waiver (NIW) test was not useful in determining whether someone’s work has substantial merit and national importance, recognizing that pure science and research offer far reaching benefits to the U.S.
It acknowledged that evidence that the endeavor has the potential to create a significant impact may be favorable but is not required, as an endeavor’s merit may be established without immediate or quantifiable economic impact.
This substantial merit interpretation is particularly helpful as demonstrating that an applicant’s work had already had an “impact” in the field proved elusive for many.
The AAO further clarified that the endeavor’s substantial merit may be shown in a variety of fields, including in business, entrepreneurialism, science, technology, health, culture or education.
It is possible to establish an endeavor’s substantial merit without a demonstration of immediate or quantifiable economic impact, although such evidence would be favorable.
The AAO provided examples of substantial merit endeavors related to research, pure science, and the furtherance of human knowledge which may qualify whether or not the potential accomplishments in those fields are likely to translate into economic benefits for the United States.
National Importance underMatter of Dhanasar
The National Interest Waiver applicant must show that their proposed endeavor has “national importance,” which may include local or regional endeavors.
An endeavor that has significant potential impact to employ U.S. workers or has other substantial positive economic effects, particularly in an economically depressed area, may have national importance.
To determine whether the proposed endeavor has national importance, the AAO stated that it considers its potential prospective impact.
An endeavor may have national importance, for example, because it has national or even global implications within a particular field, such as those resulting from certain improved manufacturing processes or medical advances.
“But we do not evaluate prospective impact solely in geographic terms. Instead, we look for broader implications. Even ventures and undertakings that have as their focus one geographic area of the United States may properly be considered to have national importance,” the AAO noted.
“In modifying this prong to assess ‘national importance’ rather than ‘national in scope,’ as used in NYSDOT, we seek to avoid overemphasis on the geographic breadth of the endeavor.
An endeavor that has significant potential to employ U.S. workers or has other substantial positive economic effects, particularly in an economically depressed area, for instance, may well be understood to have national importance.”
Well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor under the Matter of Dhanasar:
In making a determination regarding if the National Interest Waiver applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, adjudicators will consider the applicant’s:
Knowledge and record of success in related or similar efforts;
A model or plan for future activities;
Any progress toward achieving the proposed endeavor; and
The interest of potential customers, users, investors, or other relevant entities or individuals.
Adjudicators may consider any other relevant factors related to the foreign national’s ability and qualifications to advance the proposed endeavor.
The AAO notes that USCIS does not require that petitioners demonstrate that the endeavors “are more likely than not to ultimately succeed.” Insteads the petitioner is only required to establish that the foreign national is “well positioned” to advance the endeavor. In phrasing it in this manner, the AAO recognizes that even well-planned endeavors may ultimately fail, and that the emphasis should be on the qualifications of the foreign national to make an endeavor potentially successful.
From the AAO Matter of Dhanasar National Interest Waiver Decision:
“To determine whether he or she is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, we consider factors including, but not limited to: the individual’s education, skills, knowledge and record of success in related or similar efforts; a model or plan for future activities; any progress towards achieving the proposed endeavor; and the interest of potential customers, users, investors, or other relevant entities or individuals.
“We recognize that forecasting feasibility or future success may present challenges to petitioners and USCIS officers, and that many innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors may ultimately fail, in whole or in part, despite an intelligent plan and competent execution. We do not, therefore, require petitioners to demonstrate that their endeavors are more likely than not to ultimately succeed. But notwithstanding this inherent uncertainty, in order to merit a national interest waiver, petitioners must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.”
Just stating that you intend to continue working in your field is likely not enough. And although you may not require a job offer in your field you will need to present a plan to continue your work in your field (collaborations for example). Past successes can be used to ensure that you will be able to continue to succeed in your area of expertise. You do not have to show substantial success in the past, just a record of success.
It’s worth noting that in Matter of Dhanasar USCIS does not appear to put heavy emphasis on one’s influence by using publications or citations as the primary factor. Instead they highlighted evidence such as notable funding, awards, media reports and membership, similar to the criteria for EB2-NIW under Exceptional Ability*.
Tips on preparing your National Interest Waiver (NIW) Petition:
Those seeking qualification for a waiver of labor certification based on services considered in the national interest must make a showing significantly above that to prove prospective national benefit required of all aliens seeking qualification as exceptional.
The National Interest Waiver applies only to those who will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural or educational interests or welfare of the United States.
National interest waiver cases require that the emphasis rest with the overall value and potential of the beneficiary’s individual contribution to the U.S. (not the fact that you are working in a field of high national interest.)
Youmay qualify by being found to be a key or critical member of a team if it can be shown that the team function would be severely impaired without you. Merely working in an area of national interest does not necessitate a finding of national interest qualification.
USCIS recommends the submission of quality testimonial letters from substantial, recognized national or international organizations/institutes/ government agencies with the expertise to definitely say that the work or contribution of the individual truly is in the national interest.
The authors of these third-party testimonial letters should clearly state how they came to be familiar with your work. A testimonial letter will often carry more weight if the author is not a personal friend of the applicant.
USCIS officers look for realistic evidence of substantial prospective benefit to a national interest item or agenda which specifically sets the alien apart from peers in the field.
National Interest Waiver (NIW) USCIS Processing Time:
USCIS Service Center Notes:
NIW petitions filed by mail are adjudicated at the Nebraska Service Center.
E-filed I-140 petitionsare adjudicated at theTexas Service Center.
Supporting documentation for the National Interest Waiver petition (Advanced Degree Professional):
- Copy of Advanced Degree and University Transcripts.
- Cover Letter explaining the applicant’s achievements and benefit to the national interest.
- Letters of support from peers.
- List of Citations
- National and/or International awards
- Memberships in industry or research organizations (only if membership is restrictive).
- Invitations to judge or review the work of peers
- Speaking Invitations
- Presentations at national and international conferences and/or seminars
- List and description of Patents (or patents pending)
- Media coverage (if applicable)
Do I need to submit all of my University Degrees and University Transcripts?
Although the USCIS officer is likely to only be interested in your PhD, it is wise to include copies of your Bachelor and Master degree diplomas and transcripts.
How many publications will I need for my National Interest Waiver case?
USCIS does not specify a minimum number of publications required, as a general rule we recommend at least 5.
How many citations will I need for my National Interest Waiver case?
Again, USCIS does not specify a minimum number of publications required, however citations are strongly weighted so the more you have the stronger your case will be.Google Scholartracks citations to your publications.
What should I include in my National Interest Waiver Cover Letter?
The applicant must establish that their past record justifies future benefit to the national interest.
In other words the applicant must demonstrate specific prior achievements which establish the his or her ability to benefit the national interest.
Keep in mind that the USCIS officer is not likely to be well versed in the scientific and technical terms that you use on a daily basis.
The first few paragraphs should explain your work and your contribution in laymen terms.
If the USCIS officer cannot understand what it is that you do, it is may be difficult for them to approve your petition without issuing an RFE (Request for Additional Evidence).
How manyRecommendation Testimonial Lettersdo I need for my National Interest Waiver case?
There is no minimum number of letters required by USCIS.
In general we recommend at least 5 strong letters.
– Matter of Dhanasar
For more information, please complete the form below:
The EB-2 NIW applicants can also self-petition, which means they do not need an employer to sponsor them. They can file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker on their own behalf.What is the approval rate for EB-2 National Interest Waiver? ›
EB2 NIW Approval Rate – A Realistic Review
According to USCIS data, I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) petitions have an average approval rate of 93% for this specific category. Depending on the number of petitions in the year, this rate fluctuates within an 83%-96% range.
- Pertinent data.
- News articles or other media demonstrating the applicant's impact on their field and the national importance of their endeavor.
- Academic research.
- Complete project plan showing how the applicant will advance the goals of their endeavor.
Starting from January 30, 2023, USCIS will receive requests for I-907 Form for all initial and pending petitions for EB1C (E13) multinational executives and managers and EB2 (E21) national interest waiver. USCIS must reply within 45 days of receiving the I-907 Form and the required $2,500 fee.How do I apply for NIW by myself? ›
To file an EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) Case, you need to fill an I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers) and send the petition materials, including your I-140 form (for paper-based filing), ETA 750 B form (see Instructions for Completing the ETA 750B Application for Alien Employment Certification), ...How long does it take to get EB-2 NIW approval? ›
Although the fee is expensive (approximately 3.5 times the regular fee for normal processing time), the average processing time for an EB-2 NIW (I-140 Petition) which is now about 16 to 19 months (depending on the reviewing center) will become 45 days.How difficult is EB2 NIW? ›
The application process for an EB-2 NIW visa can be complex and time-consuming, requiring extensive documentation and evidence to support the applicant's case. You must provide evidence that your work is in the national interest of the United States.What is the disadvantage of EB2 NIW? ›
Limitations of the EB-2 NIW:
The EB-2 NIW by itself does not immediately provide you with work authorization. If you can file your green card application at the same time as your EB-2 NIW, you may be able to get work authorization through an EAD around six months after filing (but it could be longer)
How many citations do you need for EB2 NIW? The short answer is that there is no minimum number of citations needed. There is no requirement for citations in the USCIS EB2 NIW guidelines. This makes sense if you consider that this category goes beyond researchers.Is EB-2 Niw faster than EB-2? ›
The EB-2 NIW program provides candidates a faster processing time as the NIW (national interest waiver) allows candidates to not require a job offer as well as it is in the best interest of the United States to accept the application as it is in the national interest to do so.
A USA Entry Waiver application can be denied for many reasons, such as: the application was not completed properly; the processing fee was not paid; all necessary supporting documents were not provided; or the applicant did not show sufficient rehabilitation.What happens after EB-2 NIW approval? ›
If your I-140 NIW petition is approved, it means you have met the eligibility requirements for the EB-2 visa category. However, you will still need to complete the subsequent step, such as filing an Adjustment of Status application (Form I-485) or Immigrant Visa Processing, to obtain your green card.What happens after immigration waiver is approved? ›
Once the waiver is approved by USCIS, the applicant should receive a packet of information from the U.S. Embassy of his or her country of origin. The packet will instruct the applicant to set up a new interview appointment at the consulate.How long is EB-2 NIW valid? ›
The applicant will then be required to attend the interview as instructed, and if approved, will be issued an Immigrant Visa that will be valid for 6 months.What happens after USCIS approves waiver? ›
The NVC will schedule you for an immigrant interview after the USCIS approves your I-601A petition. Schedule a medical exam overseas and make plans for your departure from the US. Travel to the US embassy or consulate overseas where your interview is scheduled. Expect to spend about three weeks outside of the US.Can EB-2 be self sponsored? ›
To successfully obtain an EB-2 visa, the applicant must meet certain criteria. Before they can move forward with the application process, they must be sponsored by an employer, who will need to apply for and obtain a PERM certification, unless a National Interest Waiver has been granted.How many papers are required for NIW? ›
4 papers in peer reviewed journals, all first author; conference papers and presentations; 3 support letters.Can I apply for NIW without citation? ›
The answer is yes, you can apply for an NIW since there is no specific requirement that you have to have published articles to apply or obtain approval of an NIW petition. However, publications will greatly improve the chances of approval because publications help to prove your authorship and original contribution.Can EB2 be denied? ›
Common Reasons for EB-2 or I-140 Denied
Your EB-2 visa application can be denied for several reasons ranging from your ineligibility as an applicant or errors in filing documentation and forms. If your EB-2 visa application has been denied by the USCIS, the reason will have been stated in the denial letter sent to you.
The EB2 visa costs include a $700 filing fee for Form I-140 and a $2,500 optional premium processing fee. The EB-2 visa is an employment-based visa category that allows individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business to immigrate to the United States.
As mentioned above, one of the primary benefits of the EB2 national interest waiver is the ability to self-petition for your green card. Through the national interest waiver, you do not need to go through the hassle of finding a U.S. employer that is willing to sponsor your immigrant petition.How many people are waiting in eb2? ›
There are about 1 million foreign workers and their family members who are waiting to receive a green card. According to Congressional Research Service, this employment-based backlog is projected to double by the 2030 fiscal year.Is it hard to get a U.S. waiver? ›
A US Temporary Waiver of Inadmissibility is a complex legal application and it is very easy to make a mistake, but an experienced lawyer will ensure that the application is complete, accurate, and does not contain any errors.What happens if a waiver gets denied? ›
However, be aware that if this waiver is denied, you risk a lengthy separation from your U.S. family. You will likely be barred from reentering the United States for three or ten years, depending on whether your unlawful stay was between 180 and 365 days or over 365 days. (I.N.A. Section 212(a)(9)(B).)How long does it take to get waiver approved? ›
After submission, your application will be forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security for processing. This will take anywhere from four to nine months. Once a decision has been made, you will receive notification in the mail.What does it mean when a waiver is approved? ›
an official decision that a rule, or agreement does not have to be obeyed, or that you will not ask for something that you have a right to: grant/obtain/sign a waiver Contributors signed a waiver giving up any rights to future profits.How long can you stay in the US with a waiver? ›
Overview. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries* to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.Can visa waiver be rejected? ›
Denial of U.S. Entry to a VWP Applicant Goes on Permanent Immigration Record. The fact that you have been refused entry under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will indeed go on your permanent immigration record. That means it could impact whether you are allowed into the U.S. in the future.What is the approval rate for USCIS waiver? ›
The USCIS approval rate for the I-601 waiver is 79.6%.How long are immigration waivers taking? ›
The average processing time for Form I-601A is between 8.5 and 11.5 months. Make sure you carefully read the section of the Form I-601A instructions about your immigration status when applying for this waiver.
If you are in the U.S. based only on the VWP, then you can file for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, or being the child of a U.S. citizen (under 21 years old and unmarried), or being the parent of a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. citizen child who petitions for you must be 21 years or older (these three ...Can you self sponsor EB-2? ›
The only two employment-based immigrant visa categories in which a foreign national may self-petition are National Interest Waiver (EB-2) and Extraordinary Ability (EB-1). Many employers have limits as to who and when they will sponsor for permanent residence.Can I apply for green card by myself? ›
Most people who apply for a Green Card will need to complete at least two forms—an immigrant petition and a Green Card application (Form I-485). Someone else usually must file the petition for you (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you), although you may be eligible to file for yourself in some cases.Do you need an employer for EB-2? ›
To successfully obtain an EB-2 visa, the applicant must meet certain criteria. Before they can move forward with the application process, they must be sponsored by an employer, who will need to apply for and obtain a PERM certification, unless a National Interest Waiver has been granted.Can I apply for e2 visa by myself? ›
If you're an individual investor, you'll file the petition yourself. If you're part of a company, your employer will need to file Form I-129 for you. Once the application is completed, USCIS will deny or approve your application.Can I self sponsor myself? ›
To sponsor yourself, you should have a company that can sponsor your H 1b visa. You should maintain your current visa status and continue working for your sponsoring company and start a new company in the US.How much does EB-2 sponsorship cost? ›
The EB2 visa costs include a $700 filing fee for Form I-140 and a $2,500 optional premium processing fee. The EB-2 visa is an employment-based visa category that allows individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business to immigrate to the United States.What is the easiest and fastest way to get a green card? ›
- The Green Card Lottery (Diversity Lottery) ...
- Family-Based Green Cards. ...
- Employment-Based Green Cards. ...
- Corporate-Based Green Cards.
You may qualify to self-petition if you are a victim of abuse in one of the following situations: You have been abused by your U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse. You are the spouse of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and he/she has abused your child.What is the easiest way to apply for a green card? ›
Due to the high requirements in other Green Card categories such as employment-based, family, marriage, and investment Green Cards, the path through the Green Card Lottery is, for most people, not only the easiest but often the only way to a life in the USA.