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EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) Visa

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) allows certain foreign nationals to bypass the usual labor certification process and directly apply for an Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) visa. The applicant must prove that their work is in the national interest of the United States., i.e. it contributes to the nation’s well-being and development.

Though the EB-2 visa is an employment-based visa, with the National Interest Waiver, applicants don’t need a job offer or a labor certification to apply. The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is popular in the United States because of its flexibility in determining who qualifies. It is also not restricted to a specific occupation.

Related Read: How to Immigrate to the USA Without a Job Offer

Eligibility Requirements for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW)

To be granted a National Interest Waiver (NIW), you must pass a three-part test called the Dhanasar framework:

  • Part One – Benefit to the nation: You must be able to prove that your immigration to the U.S. would be beneficial to the nation. What is considered beneficial to the nation can vary from situation to situation. Hence, it’s important to work with an immigration lawyer who can help you tell your story in the most persuasive way possible. To show that your work will benefit the nation, you must demonstrate that what you intend to do in the U.S. is substantial enough and national in scope. National in scope means that whatever you set out to do in the U.S. must impact more than one state and beyond your organization.
  • Part Two – Ability to be Successful: You must show that you have the skills, education, and work experience to be successful at what you plan to do. Sometimes, this means a company is hired (that is not part of the U.S. government) to evaluate your credentials and/or business plan. For business applicants, innovation is especially important.
  • Part Three – Waiving the Labor Certificate is Necessary: A USCIS professional will look at your situation to ensure it is necessary to remove the labor certification requirement. For example, the labor certification process can take a long time, so if the work you plan to do is time-sensitive and the U.S. will miss out on some of the benefits while you try to find a work sponsor, an NIW might be granted. Similarly, the office assigned to your case will consider whether you are likely to create jobs or grow the economy in that on balance it makes sense to waive labor certification requirement.

However, if an employer is available right away to sponsor you, the USCIS professional may decide it isn’t necessary to skip the labor certification process and an NIW might not be granted. Especially in step three the USCIS professional’s decision is discretionary. That means the outcome could vary depending on how persuasively your case is presented.

Application Process for the National Interest Waiver

Foreign nationals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability looking to migrate to the United States can apply for the EB-2 visa. The national interest waiver allows them to bypass the usual labor certification process that is expected for employment-based immigration. The major condition is that they can show that their work is in the national interest of the United States.

To apply for this waiver of the labor certification requirement, it is important to follow USCIS guidelines and get the documentation and filing procedures right.

Documentation Requirements

  • Academic transcripts, degree and other relevant certifications, professional achievements documents, etc.
  • Letters of recommendation from experts in the field emphasizing the significance and impact of the applicant’s work on the USA’s national interest.
  • Comprehensive resume outlining educational and professional experiences. Emphasize specific projects, research, or contributions that showcase the applicant’s expertise.
  • Evidence of exceptional ability like awards, publications, patents, or any other evidence of outstanding achievements.
  • Documents clearly showing how the applicant’s work directly benefits the United States.

Filing Procedures

  • Complete and file Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS.
  • Ensure accurate submission of supporting documents.
  • Pay the required filing fee (An additional premium processing fee can expedite the process).
  • Be prepared to respond promptly to any requests for additional evidence (RFEs) from USCIS.
  • If the I-140 petition is approved, applicants can proceed with consular processing if outside the U.S. or file for adjustment of status if already present in the country.
  • Complete biometrics and medical examination.
  • Wait for EB-2 NIW visa issuance and stay updated on any changes in visa priority dates via the Visa Bulletin.

Related Read: How to Read Visa Bulletin and Find Priority Dates.

The process is complex, and the rules can depend on the opinion of the USCIS professional reviewing the case. That’s why hiring a lawyer who knows how to meet each part of the Dhanasar framework is so important. We understand how to present your case to the USCIS so that you have the best chance of being successful.

Advantages of EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW)

There are several advantages that the EB-2 national interest waiver offers to eligible foreign nationals. Listed below are a few:

  • A labor certificate or U.S. job offer is not necessary before application.
  • It is easier to change employers or job positions while on EB-2 NIW.
  • Faster-moving priority date, which can reduce visa processing waiting time.
  • Applicants don’t need employer sponsorship to file the visa petition.
  • Dependents of EB-2 NIW visa holders can accompany them to the United States.

National Interest Waivers for Different Professions

The national interest waiver is not limited to any specific profession, as it is a versatile option. Here is a list of different fields or professions that the NIW applies to:

  • Educators and academics, including professors and researchers.
  • Entrepreneurs and business professionals
  • Healthcare professionals, including doctors, researchers, and other medical experts
  • Professionals in the Information Technology (IT) sector
  • Researchers and scientists, etc.

Tips for a Successful National Interest Waiver (NIW) Application

  1. Ensure your application is detailed, with all necessary supporting documents well-organized and included.
  2. Research and display how your work is of national interest to the United States.
  3. Provide tangible evidence proving your exceptional ability and expertise in your field.
  4. Compile a comprehensive resume highlighting your degrees, certifications, work history, achievements, awards, etc.
  5. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney to help with the complex immigration process.
  6. Prove that your work will have a long-term positive impact on the United States.
  7. Stay updated with USCIS policies and guidelines concerning the NIW.
  8. Get and present strong recommendation letters from experts in your field.
  9. Customize your documents and other supporting materials to emphasize the national interest aspects.

Contact CFUIS – EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) Visa Lawyer

The process of obtaining the EB-2 National Interest Waiver Visa can be difficult even for experienced immigration attorneys. We can help you complete the paperwork persuasively, file the right forms at the right time, and answer any questions you may have. Our experience and guidance can increase your chances of being approved. Call us today at 813-298-7222, chat on WhatsApp, email us, fill out our contact form, or schedule an appointment.

Other Resources: EB-2 to EB-1 Porting.