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National Interest Waivers

Fast Track to a Green Card: National Interest Waivers

National Interest Waivers

Are you looking for a faster track to a green card?

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a more expedited route to obtaining a green card. It is a petition to waive certain requirements for those applying under the EB-2 visa category. It can be an ideal option for prospective immigrants who may not qualify for the EB-1A Extraordinary Ability visa category. 

NIW visas fall under the second employment-based visa category, and like the EB-1A, you can self-petition, meaning an employer is not required. By submitting an NIW, you are asking USCIS to waive the PERM labor certification requirement under the EB-2 visa category.

The NIW is a great option for Indian or Chinese citizens who have extremely long wait times for employment-based visas. The U.S. Department of Labor is currently taking approximately 24 months, at a minimum, to adjudicate applications related to the PERM labor certification process. Therefore, by choosing the NIW alternative option, you could potentially shave years off your permanent residency process.

NIW visa is designed for individuals who can demonstrate that their work is in the national interest of the United States. This can include individuals in fields such as STEM, national security, economic growth, or cultural enrichment.

What are the Benefits of the NIW?

The National Interest Waiver visa offers several benefits that make it an attractive option for those wanting to obtain a green card in the United States. The benefits include: 

1. No Job Offer Required: Unlike other employment-based visa categories, the NIW does not require an employer to sponsor your application. This means that you can self-petition for the NIW without the need for a job offer from a U.S. employer.

2. Faster Processing Time:  NIW applications can be processed faster than other employment-based visa categories because they do not require a PERM labor certification. This means that you may be able to obtain your green card more quickly than if you applied through the more common employment-based green card routes.

3. Career Flexibility: Since the NIW is not tied to a specific employer or job, you have more flexible career options. For example, you may change jobs or even start a business without jeopardizing your immigration status.

4. No Education Requirement: The NIW does not have a specific education requirement, unlike other employment-based visa categories. This permits individuals with experience or skills in a particular field to be eligible for the visa.

5. No Labor Certification: The labor certification process can be time-consuming and expensive. By applying for an NIW, you can avoid this process altogether. 

Do I Qualify for the NIW?

To qualify for the EB-2 NIW, you must have:

  1. Master’s degree or higher; or
  2. Bachelor’s Degree plus 5 years of progressive experience; or
  3. Exceptional Ability in the sciences, arts or business.

Additionally, you must demonstrate that your work is in the national interest.  USCIS has not defined what constitutes the national interest for this visa.

If you do not meet the education requirements to apply for the NIW, you can potentially apply as a person with exceptional ability.  In this case, you must provide at least three of the following:

  1. A degree/diploma/certificate/etc. relating to your area of exceptional ability;
  2. Letter(s) from employers showing you have at least 10 years of full-time experience in your area of exceptional ability;
  3. Professional license or certification for a profession or occupation in your area of exceptional ability;
  4. A high salary that indicates exceptional ability;
  5. Membership in professional associations; and
  6. Evidence of achievements and significant contributions from peers, government agencies, or businesses.

How Do I Meet the Requirements?

To meet the requirements above, you need to provide a proposed endeavor statement. A proposed endeavor statement should explain briefly what your proposed endeavor is, how you are positioned to pursue it (relevant skills/experience), and the impact or real-world applications of your endeavor. 

To receive an NIW, you must prove that your presence would greatly benefit the U.S. economy, cultural or educational interests, or the future well-being of the U.S.  The best way to prove that is to demonstrate that you already have provided such benefit. 

  1. Examples of useful evidence to submit are provided below:Degrees, certificates, or licenses in the field;
  2. Major awards for your work in your field;
  3. Publications of peer-reviewed research, patents, trademarks, or copyrights you have authored;
  4. Media coverage about you and your work;
  5. Evidence that your salary is exceptionally high compared to others in your field;
  6. Evidence that your work is being used by others (such as citations or commercialization);
  7. Letters from experts describing your past achievements and specific examples of how you are well positioned to advance your proposed endeavor;
  8. Evidence your work has influenced your field of endeavor; and
  9. If you are not currently employed in the US, a plan describing how you intend to advance your endeavor in the US.

This kind of evidence can help establish both that you are equipped to pursue the endeavor and that your endeavor has the required inherent merit and national importance.

To have the best chance of successfully receiving an NIW, your proposed endeavor must be clear and have obvious applications that benefit the United States. The evidence must relate to your proposed endeavor, either by demonstrating certain skills/techniques you use to advance the proposed endeavor or by directly advancing the endeavor already. 

What are the Steps to Apply?

In addition to the comprehensive supporting evidence demonstrating you qualify for the visa, you must submit the following forms to apply for the EB-2 NIW:

  • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers 
  • Form ETA 750B, Application for Alien Employment Certification
  • Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service (if asking for Premium Processing)

The government filing fee for the Form I-140 is $700.

The current USCIS processing time for NIW petitions is approximately 11-13 months. However, if you pay an additional $2500 fee to USCIS, it will adjudicate your application within 2 weeks pursuant to its premium processing service.

Is an NIW right for you? If your work pertains to such areas as technology, science, engineering, medicine, public health or other big-picture areas, you may well be a good candidate for a National Interest Waiver.

How can Alagiri Law Help?

As experienced immigration lawyers, we know what USCIS requires for a successful NIW application. If you’re interested in learning whether you qualify for the NIW visa, it is critical to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.  

Some of the ways we help our NIW clients include:

  • Analyzing and crafting the field of endeavor
  • Gathering the supporting documents to prove you are the best qualified to pursue the field of endeavor
  • Serve as your intermediary and advocate in front of USCIS

Call 650-383-4306 or click here to start your immigration journey today!

Are You Extraordinary?

EB-1A Visa Masterclass:

By Priya Alagiri, ESQ. Founder, The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm

Friday, February 10, 2023, 12 PM, PST on ZOOM

Join me for Part 2 of my EB-1A “Extraordinary Ability” Visa Masterclass! I will discuss the second step of the two-step analysis that USCIS conducts prior to approving an EB-1A application, called the “final merits determination.”