National Interest Waiver Examples: What Qualifies

National Interest Waiver Examples - What Qualifies


The national interest waiver (NIW) is an attractive option for certain qualified individuals to get a green card to the United States through self-petition. The national interest waiver offers the opportunity to pursue a green card without a job offer.


In this guide, I will explain what you need to know about the national interest waiver and provide some examples of successful candidates. If you have any questions, feel free to call, text, or WhatsApp us at +1-818-741-1117 or you may request a free consultation here.


1. Introduction

2. Requirements for the NIW

3. Examples of Potential NIW Candidates

4. National Interest, Re-Explained

5. Conclusion


1. Introduction


The national interest waiver is a compelling alternative to getting an employer-sponsored green card, which can be a very long and involved process. Many companies are unwilling to sponsor foreign workers through for a green card through this process.


Alternatively, for qualified individuals, the option exists of applying for a green card through self-petition, without a job offer. The exact method for this that we’ll be discussing is the national interest waiver. Effectively, when applying for this classification, you must demonstrate that your presence is vital to national interests – specifically, being in the “national interest” of the United States.


For more detailed information on how this process works from start to finish, please see my article national interest waiver article here.


To begin, let’s go over the main requirements for qualifying for the NIW:


2. Requirements for the NIW


There are 4 main requirements to qualify for EB2 NIW:


2.1 You must qualify under the EB2 immigrant category


To satisfy the first threshold hold of NIW, you must either be an advanced degree professional or demonstrate what is termed as “exceptional ability”.

To qualify as an advanced degree professional, you must show the following:


  • The field you plan to work in must require an advanced degree AND
  • You must possess an advanced degree (any degree above a baccalaureate degree) OR you must have a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years of progressive work experience in the field you plan to work in.


Exceptional Ability:


  • You can also qualify for the NIW based on exceptional ability, which can be determined by satisfying at least 3 of the following:

    • 10 years of full-time experience in your field
    • Degree in your field
    • License to practice in your profession
    • Membership in professional associations
    • Salary/remuneration that demonstrates exceptional ability
    • Recognition of your achievements and significant contributions to your field by peers, governmental entities, or professional business organizations.

2.2 Your proposed endeavor in the U.S. must have substantial merit and national importance


Your proposed endeavor must have both substantial merit and national importance to qualify for the national interest waiver.


“Substantial merit” of the proposed endeavor can mean that the work in that field will have a benefit and value to one or more important national goals – these can vary depending on the field of interest.


Oftentimes, an attorney will use items such as expert advisory letters to attest to the substantial merit of a petitioner’s proposed endeavor.


The proposed endeavor, already having merit, must be national in scope. For example, it cannot just benefit a small portion of people – it has to be demonstrated that the petitioner’s proposed endeavor will have a lasting benefit for the well-being of the United States.


For example, if the proposed endeavor involves research, the government may want to see that the research will have wide ramifications – advanced medical research, physics research, and mathematical research can all be shown to have both substantial merit and national importance. For researchers, one way to provide evidence for this is to show a high number of citations – usually over in the 90th percentile or higher.


2.3 You must be well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor


You must also demonstrate you are well-positioned to advance your proposed endeavor in order to qualify for a national interest waiver.


You can show this with your education, a record of success in your field, a plan for future activities, interest from relevant entities, or extensive documentation of any progress made towards achieving your proposed endeavor.


2.4 You must show that, on balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirement that you have a job offer and that a U.S. company undergo the labor certification process.


NIW petitioners may sometimes forget about this requirement, but it’s part of the basis for allowing a self-petition.


USCIS will weigh factors such as:

  • Whether it would be impractical for you to secure a job offer
  • Whether it would be impractical for your prospective employer to obtain a labor certification
  • Whether, even if other qualified U.S. workers are available, the U.S. would still benefit from your contributions
  • Whether the national interest in your contributions is sufficiently urgent to warrant forgoing the labor certification process.

These factors are weighted together to determine if a job offer and therefore a labor certification may be waived for the petitioner.


With all of these requirements, let’s take a look at some examples of what makes a successful NIW, or national interest waiver, case.


3. Examples of Potential NIW Candidates


Biomedical Researcher

  •   This individual has an academic record, with degree, diploma, certificate, or similar conferment, relating to their area of exceptional ability.
  •   They can provide letters from current or former employers showing that they have at least ten years of full-time experience in the field they are endeavoring in.
  •   They have licenses or certifications if necessary.
  •   They have evidence that they’ve commanded a high salary reserved for only those at the top of their field.
  •   They have membership in professional associations or on boards.
  •   They have been awarded and recognized for their achievement and significant contributions to their field by governmental entities, or fellow professional organizations.


An individual who satisfies all of these criteria may potentially qualify for the NIW if the NIW requirements are satisfied.


Other types of researchers and academicians may qualify for the NIW as well. The ideal candidate should have a high citation rate (within the top 10% of their given field).


Professionals with advanced degrees, such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers may qualify for the NIW as well. It is also possible for senior-level consultants, across a variety of fields, to qualify.


4. National Interest, Re-Explained


But how will their activity serve the national interest? This must also be shown to successfully petition for the NIW.


The individual’s activity must have a prospective national benefit, and they must well-position to further their endeavor. They must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • The individual's admission will improve the U.S. economy;
  • The individual's admission will improve wages and working conditions of U.S. workers;
  • The individual's admission will improve educational and training programs for U.S. children and under qualified workers;
  • The individual's admission will improve health care;
  • The individual's admission will provide more affordable housing for young, aged, or poor U.S. residents;
  • The individual's admission will improve the U.S. environment and lead to more productive use of the national resources; or
  • The individual's admission is requested by an interested U.S. government agency.


5. Conclusion


Now that we’ve broken down how exactly one can qualify for the NIW and what a successful candidate may look like, you may be better able to know if you too may qualify for the NIW. As part of EB2 category, the NIW is a great option for seeking permanent residency in the United States without a job offer. Through the NIW, you can self-petition for a green card also apply for your and any unmarried children under 21 years old.


With the high standards of the NIW, it’s important that you work with an experienced attorney to prepare and file your application.  If you have any questions about the NIW, please feel free to email me directly at I’m very responsive through email and I would be happy to help you.

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Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.