The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is an employment based green card category that permits self-petitioning. The waiver part of the name is based on the fact that this green card is granted based on a waiver of the job offer and the labor certification (PERM) process. The national interest part of the name is based on the requirement that the waiver can only be granted if it is in the national interest of the United States.
The NIW falls under the EB-2 green card category, which means that any applicant must have an advanced degree or equivalent (a baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree plus 5 years of post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in the field) or be able to demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business. Changes in NIW law have made NIW petitions more available to entrepreneurs.