National Interest Waiver: Everything You Need to Know About the NIW

National Interest Waiver

 

The national interest waiver (NIW) is a powerful option for certain highly qualified people to get a green card to the United States through self-petition. With an approved national interest waiver, someone can get a green card without having a job offer.

 

In this guide, I will explain what you need to know about the national interest waiver. If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and I would be happy to help you.

 

Overview

 

  1. Introduction to the National Interest Waiver

 

  1. Benefits of a National Interest Waiver

 

  1. National Interest Waiver Requirements

 

  1. Required Documents to Apply for a National Interest Waiver

 

  1. National Interest Waiver Process

 

  1. National Interest Waiver Fees

 

  1. National Interest Waiver Processing Time

 

  1. Conclusion

 

 

1. Introduction to the National Interest Waiver

 

 

The process of getting an employer sponsored green card to the United States is usually a long and difficult process. In most cases, the U.S. company must show that they tried to hire a U.S. worker and that they were unable to do so. The company is required to post ads, interview candidates, and then must get approval from the U.S. Department of Labor to be able to hire a foreign worker. This process can get very complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Therefore, many employers are unwilling to sponsor foreign workers for a green card.

 

The good news is that there are certain options for you to apply for a green card through self-petition. This means that you can apply for your green card without a job offer from a U.S. company and without a company acting as your sponsor.

 

One of these options is called the National Interest Waiver (NIW). The national interest waiver is available under the EB-2 immigrant category. Through the national interest waiver, certain people with skills and abilities in the field of science, arts, business, and/or certain other professions may self-petition for a green card.

 

Through the national interest waiver, the requirements that you have a full-time job offer and that you have a U.S. employer sponsor you, are waived.

 

2. Benefits of NIW

 

Ability to Self-Petition

 

As mentioned above, one of the primary benefits of the EB2 national interest waiver is the ability to self-petition for your green card. Through the national interest waiver, you do not need to go through the hassle of finding a U.S. employer that is willing to sponsor your immigrant petition. Another benefit is that through the national interest waiver, you can avoid the labor certification process altogether.

 

Speed

 

Another primary benefit of the national interest waiver is the speed of the process. Through a traditional employer-sponsored green card, the process can be very long. The employer has to undergo various recruitment activities and must also obtain an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor. This process alone can take several months to complete. However, the benefit of the EB2 national interest waiver is that there is no need do go through the labor certification process. You can file your immigrant petition directly which saves a tremendous amount of time.

 

 

3. National Interest Waiver Requirements

 

There are 4 main requirements to qualify for EB2 NIW:

 

  1. You must qualify under the EB2 immigrant category
  2. Your proposed endeavor in the U.S. must have substantial merit and national importance
  3. You must be well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor
  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.

 

1. Qualify Under the EB2 Immigrant Category

 

The EB2 national interest waiver is a special provision only available under the EB2 immigrant category. Basically, the NIW is an addition set of requirements above and beyond the EB2 requirements. Therefore, in order to qualify for a national interest waiver, you must first qualify under EB2. There are 2 main ways that you can qualify under the EB2 category. You may qualify under EB2 as either an advance degree professional or as an individual of exceptional ability.

 

Advance Degree Professional

 

To qualify as an advance 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

 

To qualify for EB2 based on exceptional ability, you must satisfy 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. Proposed Endeavor in the U.S. Must Have Substantial Merit and National Importance

 

To qualify for a national interest waiver, you must demonstrate that your proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance. It is very important to clearly demonstrate that both of these prongs are satisfied.

 

Substantial Merit

 

  • Substantial merit means that the work that you will be engaging in, while in the U.S., is in a field that is valuable to the national interest of the U.S.

 

  • The evidence of substantial merit should focus on the specific endeavor that you will be focusing on. For example, if you are a specialist in pediatric orthopedic surgery, you should define the endeavor as pediatric orthopedic surgery rather than “medicine” or “surgery.”

 

  • You may show substantial merit in many different industries such as science, technology, entrepreneurialism, culture, health, business, or education.

 

National Importance

 

When determining whether your endeavor has national importance, USCIS considers the potential prospective impact.  USCIS is looking for evidence of the following:

 

  • Does your endeavor have national or even global implications within your particular field?

 

  • Does your endeavor have significant potential to employ U.S. workers or does it have other substantial positive economic effects?

 

Regarding national importance, it is important to know that USCIS is not so much focused on the geographic impact of your endeavor, even people who will work in an area with local or regional impact may qualify for EB2 NIW.

 

3. You Must be Well Positioned to Advance the Proposed Endeavor

 

To qualify for a national interest waiver, you must demonstrate that you are well positioned to advance your proposed endeavor.

 

When determining whether you satisfy this requirement, USCIS is looking to see your potential to contribute to the national interest based on your prospective work in the field.

 

Here are some factors USCIS uses to determine whether you satisfy this requirement:

 

  • education

 

  • skills

 

  • knowledge

 

  • record of success in related or similar efforts

 

  • model or plan for future activities

 

  • any progress towards achieving your proposed endeavor

 

  • interest from potential customers, users, investors, or other relevant entities or individuals

 

To satisfy this requirement, you are not required to show that it is more likely than not that you will be successful. Rather, you must show how you are qualified to pursue a successful result.

 

 

4. You Must Show that, on Balance, it would be Beneficial to the United States to Waive the Requirements of a Job Offer and Thus of a Labor Certification

 

When determining whether or not you satisfy this requirement, USCIS weighs the following:

 

  • 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.

 

In each case, all of these factors are weighted together to determine whether it would be beneficial to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.

 

 

5. Required Documents to Apply for a National Interest Waiver

 

There are many different types of documents that should be included in your application for a national interest waiver. The documents that you will include will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Before making any decisions regarding what documents to submit with your case, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer.

 

Here is a general list of some of the documents that may be included:

 

  • Copies of your educational degrees

 

  • Evidence of exceptional ability (if applicable)

 

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)

 

  • Citation report

 

  • Link to Google Scholar profile

 

  • Publications, articles, books that you have authored

 

  • Evidence of prizes or awards that you have received

 

  • Evidence that you have reviewed the work of others

 

  • Published material about you/your field of endeavor

 

  • Evidence of the receipt of grants/patents

 

  • Copy of the biographic page of your passport

 

  • Testimonials from experts in your field

 

6. National Interest Waiver Process

 

Step 1. Consult with an Immigrant Lawyer

 

The first step in the NIW process is to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. It is important to consult with an immigration lawyer for the following reasons:

 

  • An experienced immigration lawyer can review your credentials and provide you with an analysis regarding the likelihood of approval of your case.

 

  • An immigration lawyer can review your background and immigration history to determine whether there may be a better option for you to get your green card.

 

  • Applying for a national interest waiver can be extremely complicated. Each NIW case requires a detailed strategy for how to prove that you satisfy each of the NIW requirements. An experienced immigration lawyer will help you develop a strategy for successfully applying for your EB-2 national interest waiver.

 

 

Step 2. File Form I-140 with USCIS

 

The Form I-140 is also called the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This is the initial form that must be filed with USCIS to apply for a green card under EB2 NIW.

 

Along with the Form I-140, your immigration lawyer will prepare a detailed cover letter explaining your case and your eligibility for a national interest waiver. In addition, all of the documentation in support of your eligibility for a national interest waiver will also be included with the Form I-140.

 

Step 3. Either Adjustment of Status or Visa Processing

 

Once your Form I-140 is approved and a visa number is available for you, the next step will be to either do an adjustment of status or to undergo immigrant visa processing. Each of these options is different. I will example the differences below.

 

Adjustment of Status

 

  • An adjustment of status is when someone “adjusts” from a non-immigrant status to lawful permanent resident status.
  • In order to do an adjustment of status, you must be lawfully present in the United States in a valid non-immigrant status.
  • An adjustment of status is done by filing a Form I-485 with USCIS
  • The adjustment of status process takes place within the United States (no need to leave the U.S.)
  • If the priority date is current at the time of filing the Form I-140, you may concurrently file the Form I-485 adjustment of status along with the I-140.

 

Immigrant Visa Processing

 

  • Immigrant visa processing is when someone applies for an immigrant visa at a consulate or embassy outside of the United States
  • Immigrant visa processing is typically done when someone is not lawfully present in the U.S. in a valid non-immigrant status
  • Immigrant visa processing is done by electronically filing a DS-260 with the Department of State
  • As part of the process of immigrant visa processing, you must attend a visa interview at a consulate abroad
  • Following successful completion of the interview, you should receive your immigrant visa within a few days
  • Once you enter the U.S. on your immigrant visa, you are officially a U.S. lawful permanent resident.

 

 

7. National Interest Waiver Fees

 

Here are the USCIS filing fees for each step of the EB2 NIW process:

 

Filing Fee for Form I-140: $700

 

Filing Fee for Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status): $1,225

 

Premium Processing Fee: Optional $1,410

 

8. National Interest Waiver Processing Time

 

The overall processing time to receive your green card through EB-2 NIW will depend on multiple factors. Please see below for the different scenarios.

 

Concurrent Filing of Form I-140 and Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status)

 

If you are lawfully present in the U.S. in a valid non-immigrant status, and if a visa number is available, you may be eligible to concurrently file your Form I-140 and Form I-485. In this case, you should receive your work authorization (EAD) and travel permission (advance parole) within 6 months. You should receive your green card within about 8-9 months.

 

Immigrant Visa Processing with Current Priority Date

 

If you are not lawfully present in the U.S. and will be doing immigrant visa processing, you will first have to file the I-140 with USCIS. Once the I-140 is approved, you can then undergo immigrant visa processing. The I-140 takes about 7-8 months to get approved. Once the I-140 is approved, assuming a visa number is available (current priority date) you can then begin immigrant visa processing which takes an additional 7-9 months. So, the total processing time would be about 14-17 months.

 

Priority Date Note Current (Visa Backlog)

 

For countries like India and China, there is a very high demand for visas under the EB2 category. The demand is higher than the number of visas available, and so there is visa retrogression (visa backlog). What this means is that, for certain countries, there is a waiting list for people to get a visa under the EB-2 category. If you were born in a country that has a visa backlog, once your I-140 petition is approved, you will have to wait for a visa number to become available (wait for your priority date to become current) before you can apply for your immigrant visa or adjustment of status. If this applies to you, the total time it takes to get your green card can be many years.

 

 

9. Conclusion

 

The EB2 national interest waiver is a great option for you to get lawful permanent residence (a green card) to the United States, without the need for a job offer. Through the EB2 national interest waiver, you can self-petition for your green card and also apply for your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old.

 

The EB-2 NIW has a high-standard that you must meet in order to get your case approved. It is therefore very important to work with an experienced lawyer to prepare and file your application.

 

If you have any questions about the EB-2 NIW, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer, and I would be happy to help you.

 

 

Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

  • Business Immigration: Law & Practice, 2nd Ed.– Vol. 2: Chapter 3
Gene Boekhoudt
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Freuet Solutions
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Tarek
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21:44 03 Aug 20
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03:58 14 Jul 20
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18:03 07 Jul 20
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18:58 25 Jun 20
Great institutions like Ashoori law firm are made by great people, and there are no finer individuals than those who dedicated themselves to assist clients with different cases like mine. “HONEST & EMPATHETIC” are the words that come to mind when I... think of Lahaina and the rest of her amazing team! Highly professional and experienced immigration attorney who provided excellent service, demonstrating personal attention to all details of your cases. They show compassion by studying clients' stories.They certainly know the immigration process and help you fully prepare for the case and interview. They are always making sure that the whole process goes very smooth. I especially want to thank “Lahaina Araneta” attorney & Michael Ashoori. If you are a really nervous client like me, these people are always super patient and kind with you. If anyone is looking for immigration help, “Ashoori law firm” should be your very first choice for sure because they can really get things done!Working with Lahaina Araneta was absolutely great. She helped me through my entire journey without any hesitations. I always got answers whenever I had questions. I will definitely work with “HER” again on my next journey. She helped me a lot from the beginning of my case (naturalization case). She is attentive to details and very informative. She also quickly responded to my questions about my status. I can't say enough about her. I was completely dazzled by her communication skills and courage in communications with the USCIS office. I am blown away by her integrity and all the hard work she has done on my behalf. I will always be grateful for all of her efforts. Lahaina I just want to thank you for the excellent work you did as my immigration attorney. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for all the cares and concerns you have shown me, and for working tirelessly. if it weren’t for your analytical skills and knowledge, the matter wouldn’t have been settled by now. I knew you have a lot of clients, so your prompt responses and attention to detail really meant a lot to me. Having an experienced attorney like you on my side was a good sign that I was walking into the right path to win the case. Thank you Lahaina for your support during my N-400 application process, and for helping me to get the desired outcome. You don't know how much your passion impacts the lives of others.read more
Sandie Galloway
18:41 10 Jun 20
Lahaina was one of 4 lawyers that I had an Initial consult with. She was the only one who took the time to truly understand my case. She was patient with me and very responsive. The most important thing is she was the only lawyer who believed in me.... She has world class professionalism. We successfully got my visa and I couldn’t have done it without her. Will never use another law firm. Highly recommend. She truly cares about her clients and goes the extra mile.read more
Rw Right
17:39 06 Jun 20
Look no further. There are solid reasons why they get straight 5 stars in this review.They work as a (great) team and everyone is very knowledgeable and reliable. Micheal posts timely insightful topics on Youtube, in addition to answering all of... your personal questions quickly and responsively.read more
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09:10 03 Jun 20
We recently needed the assistance of a law firm and due to the fact that we had limited time available to submit our application, many of the law firms that we contacted were not able to assist us. We then came in contact with Michael from Ashoori... Law. Not only did they assist us with our application, they also provided us with efficient, professional service. They really went out of their way to make sure that we meet the deadline and provided us with regular updates on the process. What a wonderful and stress free experience! I would definitely recommend Ashoori Law’s services to any potential clients.read more
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19:27 08 May 20
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21:00 05 May 20
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02:15 02 May 20
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01:33 29 Apr 20
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00:04 25 Apr 20
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03:17 24 Apr 20
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22:17 23 Apr 20
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17:42 10 Apr 20
I had question about eb1 process and my alternatives to stay along with priority date timelines ie options to move over to another visa type like h1, to continue waiting for green card processing, all of my questions are very well taken by the... immigration consultant ( Karla Samayoa) , she has very strong hold on the processes and options available to candidates, i would certainly recommend her for immigration consulting on l1a visa and eb1 visa and green card application. I give her 5 startsThank youread more
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13:56 09 Apr 20
I reached out to Ashoori Law in order to obtain my US Re-Entry permit late last year. The whole team was friendly, knowledgeable and prompt to my many questions. Michael himself would answer any questions along the way after submission, which... assured me my case was important and on their radar. Having worked with various immigration lawyers in various countries I’ve worked at (6, so far), I know that is not always the case. I recommend to consider Ashoori Law for your US immigration needs, and I expect to reach out to them whenever I next need services in regards to US immigration.read more
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18:04 08 Apr 20
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Tiyu Wang
14:27 18 Mar 20
Working with Michael was a pleasure from the beginning to the end. Through the experience of obtaining my re-entry permit, I got to witness first-hand his professionalism, expertise, and attention to detail.Some things that I really... appreciated:-Taking the time to work out the strategy for me, explaining the options I have and the solutions to potential situations that could arise. -Responding quickly and with well-thought out responses, when I emailed him with questions. -Being very meticulous (him as well as his staff) in ensuring the that logistics of my application were executed expediently and carefully. My case was not a big one, yet Michael behaved as if it were a big case. For that he certainly has earned my return business for immigration cases in the future, and I heartily recommend his services to anyone looking for a truly exceptional immigration lawyer.read more
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13:26 12 Mar 20
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emma Daniels
02:18 06 Mar 20
Karla was Very friendly to chat with and helpful
James Corcoran
14:38 05 Mar 20
I posting this for my wife in China VPN not workingI am so impressed by Mr. Michael Ashoori and will not hesitate to recommend him to you as one of the best immigration attorneys!!! For my case, I had an urgent timeline to apply for a re-entry... permit. To make it more complicated, I had multiple international travel plans during the application period. I reached out to quite a few attorneys for assistances. They either turned me down directly due to the time constrain or did not reply at all. On the contrary, Michael assured the feasibility of such an application during the first teleconference. Just as what he told me, all worked out perfectly under his coordination. To me, the following sets Mr. Michael Ashoori and his team apart from most of his peers:1) He is not only knowledge of the immigration laws and regulations but also highly familiar of the immigration authorities’ operation details. This is extremely critical to an urgent case since every step matters.2) He has the right AI system setup to monitor the daily workflows and handle the repetition workloads. Therefore, his team can focus on the key variables and client interactions efficiently.3) His fee is very reasonable and competitive.4) He cares about his clients as a friend. That is precious in a business world. You are in good hands if you pick Mr. Michael Ashoori and his team!read more
Humayun Tariq
08:09 05 Mar 20
I applied for the re- entry permit with Micheal Ashoori. I can say without a doubt, Micheal is the most helpful lawyer I have found there. What I love about Micheal is that he is really accessible to anyone, unlike other lawyers. He is always... available for a consultation call and clears out the queries patiently. He gives the best advice suited to the situation which has really helped me out with my planning. When I decided to apply for my re- entry permit with Micheal, he assisted me throughout the process. I just had to mail him the signed copy of the application and rest was handled by him and his team.Also, his team members, specifically Lahaina Araneta, are a joy to work with. They have been very responsive on e-mail even if it is late at night.Micheal, along with his team members, is very polite and never rushes an answer.I would definitely recommend everyone to work with Micheal if they need legal assistance in delicate matters such as immigration. He is the best you can get out there in terms of being responsible, responsive and accessible.read more
Sriram Akella
06:07 27 Feb 20
Worked with Micheal for applying reentry permits for my wife and myself. He prepared all the paper work and was ready so that we could file the day we landed in US. Very Friendly and answered all my questions with patience.Would definitely... recommend him for any immigration related work.read more
bardia bahrami
00:02 26 Feb 20
He was awesome, everything was straight forward with Michael and his team. I received my re-entry permit 6 weeks after submitting my request .
Tom Tam
17:43 22 Feb 20
This lawyer was awesome and helped my family with our own immigration case! 10/10 would recommend!
Remo Barducci
07:56 14 Feb 20
From the very first call where we were taken through the process right through to completion, all the interaction with Ashoori has been of the highest level . The advice we were given , how we were steered through the whole process and the brilliant... communication was simply faultless . Even though we are based in Australia on the other side of the world , time zones were no issue . Anyone planning on using Ashoori law, we recommend them very highlyread more
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03:01 14 Feb 20
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Suresh Arumugham
11:01 13 Feb 20
I had utilized the service from Ashoori Law. Compared to other Law firms where you have to check for updates, Ashoori Law is very professional are very prompt in providing timely updates. They will take care of you until the service is complete.... Completely Satisfied.read more
Elena Matsa
07:47 13 Feb 20
Michael was very professional and always available to help by phone or by e-mail. I am thankful to have worked with him.
Edwin Ayala
23:31 12 Feb 20
Very professional , very efficient firm right from the beginning all the way to the end of our case , I think that immigration knows their reputation and that is why our case when very smooth and no issues at all , thank you Micheal Ashoori and team... .read more
nantanut saengprasit
04:19 12 Feb 20
As, I have some problem to apply reentry permit. I am very serious in my case because it was denied for the first time. When, I saw Ashoori Law website. I believe in Mr.Michael who can help me in this case. I got the great support from Mr.Michael... and his team. Finally, my reentry permit was approved. I would like to say Thank you very much. I hope who have the immigration's problem. Please contact to him. He expert for the Immigration law. He can suggest you until finish. Again, Mr.Michael, thank you very much for your help.read more
Arian Shahidi
22:44 10 Feb 20
It was a great experience working with Michael. Before starting to file my documents for my case he explained every detail step by step and guided me. During the process he updated me every time and answered every question accurately. I’m very... satisfied and looking forward to work with him in the future. If you’re looking for an excellent attorney, I strongly recommend Michael Ashoori.read more
Robert Cook
05:47 08 Feb 20
Prompt , efficient , and reliable , a very professional service ..
frederic khoury
11:07 06 Feb 20
The team was very responsive, available to chat on the phone and very responsive to my emails and questions. I would recommend Ashoori's service above any large law firms with whom I had dealt previously. I got exceptional service with Ashoori.
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Michael Ashoori Headshot

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.