National Interest Waiver:

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is part of the second employment-based category (EB-2) for aliens of exceptional ability in sciences, arts or business and advanced degreed professionals (M.A., M.S., M.E., M.D. or Ph.D.). An alien may apply for permanent residence status (Green Card) and seek a waiver of the offer of employment by establishing that his or her admission to permanent residence would be in the national interest. A person who qualifies for the National Interest Waiver is deemed to be of such value to the United States that he/she is not required to process a labor certification or have a job offer.

The NIW is a good option for those who do not wish to wait several years for labor certification and/or do not wish to be tied to a specific employer during labor certification. The NIW applicant sponsors him or herself and is not required to have a job.

The National Interest Waiver also applies to physicians. Physicians who agree to work full time in a designated health professional shortage area or in VA hospital and where a federal agency or state department of public health has determined that the physician’s work is in the public interest for an aggregate of five years (not including time in J1 visa status) can obtain an NIW green card.

In order to be considered an alien of exceptional ability, the USCIS regulations require that at least three of the following types of evidence be established:

  • An official academic record showing that the alien has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability
  • Evidence in the form of letters from current or former employers showing that the alien has at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation for which he or she is sought
  • A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation
  • Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary, or other remuneration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability
  • Evidence of membership in professional associations
  • Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business associations.

In addition to the requirements mentioned above, the USCIS will consider the following factors in evaluating a request for National Interest Waiver:

  • Whether the alien seeks employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit. Basically, is an important national goal involved in the alien’s particular field of endeavor?
  • Whether the proposed benefit will be national in scope. Merely serving a regional or local interest is not sufficient. The emphasis of this factor is on the existence of a national goal that the alien will promote.
  • Whether the national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification would be required for the alien. The first step in meeting this test is establishing that the alien possesses unique knowledge, abilities, or experience that set him or her apart from other professionals in the field. The second step is establishing that the applicant will use these unique attributes in an activity that will significantly benefit her/his field of endeavor.
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