The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is an employment based green card category. The NIW falls under the EB-2 category, which means that as a threshold requirement each applicant must have an advanced degree or its equivalent (a bachelor’s degree plus 5 years of post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in the profession), or demonstrate that they have exceptional ability.
Additionally, to qualify for a national interest waiver the applicant must show that it is in the U.S. national interest for the government to waive the normal EB-2 requirement of a job offer and labor certification. A labor certification requires testing the U.S. labor market to determine if there are any willing, qualified and available U.S. workers for a particular job. NIW applicants can self-petition, they do not need a job offer and are not required to complete a labor certification.
To qualify for a National Interest Waiver, there are three prongs that must be satisfied:
- The foreign national must show that their proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
- The foreign national must show that they are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and
- They must show the benefits of their proposed endeavor to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer, and thus of a labor certification.
Applicants often ask how they can meet the second prong, meaning how can they show they are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor? This prong focuses attention on the applicant’s background & accomplishments. The government generally wants to see evidence related to the applicant’s education, experience, knowledge, skills and any evidence of past success in the relevant industry.
Additionally, if the applicant can provide details of their future plans (such as a business plan) and can demonstrate progress towards those plans, this can assist in meeting the NIW criteria. The government may also consider evidence such as contracts, MOUs, letters of intent, or other expressions of interest in the project. This may include prospective clients, investors, customers, business or philanthropic organizations, or other relevant entities.
Letters from experts in the field attesting to the importance of the endeavor and expressing their confidence in the NIW applicant are also helpful for the application.
Below are some examples of the types of proof applicants have submitted to meet the second NIW criteria:
- An engineer engaging in aerospace research that had applications for civilian and military technologies submitted proof of his educational credentials; publications he wrote, as well as proof that others had cited his work; proof that he was a member of prestigious professional associations; letters from experts attesting to his knowledge & skill; and documentation of his research and teaching activities.
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