The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has several employment-based visa categories. Most work-based visas require applicants to have a US job offer, but the EB-2 NIW is a much-welcomed exception to this rule.  

In this article, you will discover what an EB-2 NIW is and the approval rate for this visa category. 

EB2 National Interest Waiver – Understanding the Concept 

A national interest waiver (NIW) is a subset of the Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference (EB-2) visa category. Only available for this specific classification, this waiver allows users not to depend on a job offer from a qualified US employer. 

Hence, EB-2 NIW applicants can self-petition directly with USCIS. Another benefit of obtaining an NIW is waiving the labor certification process requirement (PERM). 

Before applying on behalf of a prospective EB-2 worker, a US employer must file with the US Department of Labor (DOL) to get a certified Application for Permanent Employment Certification. 

This process requires the US sponsor to prove that there are no qualified US workers to fulfill that specific position and that the employment of foreign labor will not negatively affect wages and working conditions of US workers.  

As expected, this process can take months to complete depending on each case. The NIW allows applicants to circumvent this often inconvenient requirement and not endure a lengthy waiting period.  

EB2 National Interest Waiver – Eligibility Requirements  

It is not possible to qualify for an NIW without being eligible for the EB-2 classification. The EB-2 visa applies to foreign nationals who are members of professions holding an advanced degree (or its equivalent) or those with exceptional ability. 

Applicants seeking to apply based on the first subcategory must possess at least a baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree plus five years of post-baccalaureate progressive work experience in the field. The second subcategory requires applicants to have proven exceptional ability.  

USCIS defines “exceptional ability” as “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” Please note that the EB-2 visa applies to several fields of expertise, as this definition offers only a general description. 

After meeting the EB-2 eligibility requirements, USCIS has specific criteria to determine whether an applicant qualifies for an NIW, which are: 

  • Whether the proposed endeavor has both “substantial merit” and “national importance” 
  • If the applicant is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, and  
  • Whether the proposed endeavor would be beneficial to the United States in a way to justify the waiver of both the job offer and labor certification requirements  

EB2 NIW Approval Rate – A Realistic Review  

As of late 2022, the USCIS has never released statistics or data revealing the approval rate of EB-2 NIW petitions. However, it is possible to have an idea of the approval rate based on the standard EB-2 approval rate. 

According to USCIS data, I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) petitions have an average approval rate of 93% for this specific category. Depending on the number of petitions in the year, this rate fluctuates within an 83%-96% range.  

Do You Want to Get an EB2 NIW Visa? – Immediately Contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado 

A well-versed legal advisor in US immigration law, Attorney Romy B. Jurado willingly wants to help you succeed. Contact us today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] for an individual consultation.