What Is the National Interest Waiver or NIW?
The US National Interest Waiver is a provision in the employment-based immigration system that makes it easier to achieve a US green card for those who are qualified. These foreigners can become U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPR) without the need for a labor certification or an employer sponsorship. This kind of green card is usually referred to as EB-2 green card.
Read on to find out if you are qualified for an EB-2 NIW or not.
EB-2 Visa Types
Like EB-1 Visas, EB-2 visas are also available for foreigners who wish to work in the United States. They are considered second preference workers (EB-1 visa holders are the first priority) and they need to be professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.
There are three types of EB2 visas.
Foreign individuals with advanced degrees, including master’s degrees or higher, can apply for this visa type.
Foreign individuals with exceptional ability or skill might be found qualified for this US employment visa.
Both EB-2A and EB-2B applicants need an employer sponsorship with a valid ‘Permanent Employment Certification’ (PERM). PERM is a labor certification that allows an employer to hire foreign individuals permanently. Obtaining a PERM from the Department of Labor is complicated and time-consuming.
For this third type of EB-2 visa, you must be able to prove that your knowledge, skill, and work benefit the U.S. society. In other words, you need strong evidence to show your work is in the national interest and you deserve this waiver. Your work has to make a significant impact on the economy, education, science, healthcare, etc.
This waiver means that you can get an employment-based green card without the need for an American employer to petition for you. And even if you already have an American employer, you can still petition by yourself. This also means that you or your employer do not need a PERM when applying. These are the main NIW benefits compared to other EB-2 visas.
In addition, with an EB-2 NIW, if your employment changes, you will not lose your green card.
NIW eligibility criteria not only include the basic requirements for all EB-2 visas but also some additional evidence to prove your intrinsic value and benefits for the United States.
To qualify for an EB-2 visa, you should meet at least three of the criteria below.
- An official record that shows your significant contribution to your field.
- Proof of membership at a professional association.
- A license or certification for your profession.
- Evidence to show you got a salary for the services related to your profession and expertise.
- A degree, certificate, diploma, or award from an institution/college/university to prove your knowledge and skill.
- Letters that can serve as evidence for your experience in your field of expertise. This must prove a minimum of 10 years of full-time practice in your profession.
The NIW specific requirements include
- An advanced degree. Or a minimum of 5 years of experience plus your Bachelor’s degree.
- State your reason for applying for an NIW. This reason must be of national importance.
- You can carry out your plan or project.
- Your project and your expertise will benefit the US and therefore you are qualified for a job offer waiver.
NIW Application Process: How to Self-Petition for an EB-2 NIW
To apply for an EB-2 NIW, you need to fill out Form I-140 and file with the USCIS. You have to send all the evidence and documents to the addresses provided here by the USCIS.
If your application is approved, then you can apply for an adjustment of status to get your green card. To see when you can apply for permanent residency, you can check your I-140 submission date in the Visa Bulletin.
If you are applying from abroad, you must also file Form DS-260 (learn more about this form here) to the US Consulate or Embassy you are applying from.
What to Do If Your NIW Application Is Denied
If your EB-2 NIW application is not approved, it is time to seek your NIW attorney’s advice. There are a couple of possible ways to deal with this situation.
- Your NIW lawyer might recommend making a motion to reopen your case.
- You might be able to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) or the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).
- You are usually allowed to request the USCIS officer to reconsider your case if you have new evidence and documents.
If all the above fails, your immigration lawyer will suggest other options you have to obtain your green card.
EB-2 NIW Required Documents
Below is a list of documents and evidence you are required to send when applying for an EB-2 NIW.
- Form I-140,
- Evidence of exceptional ability/advanced degree/experience,
- Recommendation letters,
- Proof of any awards, achievements, etc.,
- Evidence to show your expertise and experience,
- Affidavits from other experts in your profession,
- Your resume,
- Form I-485 (This is a form to apply for adjustment of status or permanent residency),
- Form DS-260 (This is for those who are applying for a green card from outside the US),
- Any other NIW supporting documents and records to support your case.
Some Tips Regarding Preparing Your EB-2 NIW Documents
Besides collecting and organizing all the documents properly, make sure you are not including any original documents. Needless to say, if you are specifically asked to provide the original document, you must certainly do so.
Another point to mention is that any foreign language documents must be translated to English and you must submit the certified translations. This means that your translator must verify that the translation is accurate and complete.
Above all, avoid any inaccurate information or claims that you cannot support by evidence. Otherwise, your case will be denied.