The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a subset of the EB-2 classification. This unique visa category is generally chosen by Ph.D. students and post-docs, but different types of foreign workers can also apply with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  

Read on to understand the eligibility criteria and advantages of an NIW. 

Understanding the National Interest Waiver – In Detail 

The first requirement to qualify for an NIW is to meet the basic eligibility criteria for a standard EB-2 visa. The employment-based second preference visa applies to members of professions holding an advanced degree or individuals of exceptional ability. 

Applicants filing with USCIS based on an advanced degree must: 

  • Have a US job offer that requires an advanced degree, and  
  • Possess a baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree plus five years of post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in the field 

Standard EB-2 applications depend on a job offer from a US employer. Before applying on behalf of the prospective worker, the US employer sponsoring the application must go through the labor certification process (PERM) with the US Department of Labor (DOL). 

In certain circumstances, standard EB-2 applicants filing based on an advanced degree must meet other requirements specified on the labor certification.  

On the other hand, applicants filing with USCIS based on “exceptional ability must show a “degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” 

When an EB-2 applicant files with USCIS for an NIW, the petitioner requests the job offer and labor certification requirements to be waived because it is “in the best interest of the United States.” USCIS has a three-pronged approach to identifying whether an applicant is eligible for an NIW:  

  • The applicant’s proposed endeavor must have “substantial merit” and “national importance 
  • The applicant must be well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, and 
  • The applicant must show that it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements 

What is the Advantage of NIW? –  In Detail 

The first advantage of the NIW is the possibility to obtain an EB-2 visa without necessarily depending on a US sponsor. As the NIW does not require a permanent job offer in the United States, applicants do not depend on a third party’s willingness to apply on their behalf. 

As there is no job offer requirement, applicants do not need to go through the time-consuming process of waiting until the US employer obtains the required labor certification. With no labor certification, the entire application process gets faster. 

NIW applicants can take advantage of concurrent filing and file for work authorization and travel permits much sooner than skilled workers waiting for labor certification. Waiving the labor certification requirement also results in a broader range of job opportunities for petitioners and the possibility to change jobs faster than standard EB-2 applicants. 

Another unique advantage is the possibility of self-petition with USCIS. NIW applicants can file Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) without a third party’s signature, which allows superior self-reliance and flexibility for petitioners.  

Do You Want to Obtain an EB-2 NIW Visa? – Immediately Seek Expert Legal Guidance 

Waste no time with uncertainty. Contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to find the best immigration strategy for your case.