Alagiri Immigration Law Firm


Unleash Opportunities: The STEM Green Card Advantage

If you graduated with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics or related degree, then you have a STEM green card advantage. This advantage comes in the form of the EB-2 National Interest Waiver program.

The National Interest Waiver requirements for a STEM Green Card in the Bay Area and around the U.S. have been eased. In January 2022, the Biden Administration took a significant step towards supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals by making executive policy changes that streamline the qualification process for the National Interest Waiver (NIW).

These policy changes bring positive news to noncitizens working in STEM fields, especially in regions like the Bay Area, where innovation and technological advancements thrive. Recognizing the critical role of STEM in bolstering U.S. competitiveness and national security, USCIS has emphasized prioritizing certain STEM fields, including artificial intelligence, space system technology, biotechnology, autonomous systems, semiconductors, advanced engineering materials, financial technologies, and advanced manufacturing.

These changes aim to attract and retain the brightest minds, fostering innovation and growth in the Bay Area and beyond. The U.S. government acknowledges that these individuals contribute significantly to the country’s development, making it essential to retain them as part of the nation’s workforce.

Understanding the National Interest Waiver (NIW)

What is the NIW STEM green card option?

The National Interest Waiver is a unique pathway for non-citizens to obtain permanent residency in the United States without the need for employer sponsorship or a labor certification. The NIW falls under the employment-based 2nd (EB-2) preference category. Under this waiver, individuals can self-petition for permanent residency by proving:

  1. The field of endeavor has substantial merit and national importance; and
  2. They are best suited to advance this work; and
  3. In totality, waiving the PERM Labor Certification process would benefit the U.S.


USCIS Emphasis on STEM Green Cards

Recognizing the importance of these fields, he Biden Administration’s January 2022 announcements easing the requirements for STEM green cards included detailed instructions for USCIS when evaluating NIW cases for STEM professionals.


Following the Biden Administration’s instructions, USCIS revised its policies specifically for STEM professionals applying for the National Interest Waiver.

Substantial Merit and National Importance

First, USCIS clarified that “endeavor” means more than a general occupation. It involves the work undertaken within that occupation.


Second, “merit” can be demonstrated through “significant” economic impact, but is not required. Endeavors related to research and science, for example, can have substantial merit with no economic impact.


Third, the type of endeavor is more important, rather than the geographic reach of the endeavor.

Applicant is Well Positioned to Advance Endeavor

In determining whether the application is best suited to carry out the endeavor, USCIS instructs its officers to consider the following:


  1. Applicant’s education, skills, and accomplishments in the field.
  2. Applicant’s plan for pursuing the endeavor.
  3. Support from individuals in the field.


USCIS points to the following types of evidence as proof that the applicant is well positioned to carry out the endeavor:


  • Degrees in the field
  • Patents
  • Testimonial letters
  • Publications
  • Plan regarding future work in the field

Beneficial to Issue Waiver

An applicant must finally demonstrate that, on the whole, the U.S. will benefit from waiving the job offer and PERM labor certification requirements.

One of the factors that USCIS will consider when deciding whether the waiver is beneficial includes Applicant’s contributions are urgent to the national interest, such as U.S. remaining competitive in STEM fields, job creation, and public health and safety.

Definition of STEM

In deciding what is a STEM field for NIW purposes, USCIS will use the STEM definition applied to F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training.

USCIS recognizes the significance of STEM fields to advancing U.S. competitiveness and national security. It provides some examples of such fields, including military defense and artificial Intelligence.

Stemming from authoritative lists provided by the National Security Council and the National Science and Technology Council, USCIS identifies key areas of focus. The prioritized fields include artificial intelligence, space system technology, biotechnology, autonomous systems, semiconductors, advanced engineering materials, financial technologies, and advanced manufacturing. This emphasis creates a favorable environment for non-citizens with expertise in these fields to apply for the NIW and potentially obtain permanent residency in the United States.

Hiring Alagiri Law for STEM Green Card Assistance

Navigating this STEM Green Card process can be complex and overwhelming.  However, an experienced immigration attorney can simplify the process for you. 


Take the first step towards achieving your immigration goals in the U.S.  Contact us to see if this is a good option for you.

STEM Green Card

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