National Interest Waiver: Requirements and Procedure

Jiri Navratil.  Wikimedia Commons

Jiri Navratil. Wikimedia Commons

What is the National Interest Waiver? What are the requirements for a NIW? How do I apply for a NIW?
What is a National Interest Waiver?
A National Interest Waiver (NIW) exempts the immigrant applicant from the job offer and labor certification normally required in an employment-based immigrant visa application. The labor certification process exists to protect U.S. workers and the U.S. labor market by ensuring that foreign workers seeking immigrant visa classifications are not displacing qualified U.S. workers.
Applicants must establish that their admission to the United States for permanent residency and the waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirement would be in the national interest. This waiver allows applicants to self-petition because there is no requirement of a job offer.
Who qualifies for a National Interest Waiver?
To qualify for a National Interest Waiver, you must first meet the EB-2 criteria which requires either an advanced degree in your field (Master's Degree or higher) OR you must show that you have exceptional ability in your field. 
What are the criteria for Exceptional Ability?
You must meet at least three of the criteria below:

  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

If I meet the above criteria, how do I then apply for a National Interest Waiver?

The national interest waiver is a waiver of the labor certification process (and therefore, also does not require an employer to sponsor you). You must demonstrate to the USCIS the following three criteria:

  • The foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance,
  • The foreign national is well-positioned to advance the 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.

Every case has individual facts that may meet this criteria, but generally speaking it must be shown that your proposed work is of some national interest to the United States (for example, economic development, nationality security, scientific advances, etc), that your past experiences demonstrate you can accomplish this employment, and lastly that this work is so significant you should be admitted regardless of the effect on U.S. workers or that it is just not possible to undergo a labor certification because there is no employer (for example, if you are an entrepreneur or an inventor). 

Are you interested in finding out whether you qualify for a National Interest Waiver? Please contact us to find out how we can assist. We are here to help!

Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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