The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is an employment based green card category that permits the applicant to self-petition. Applicants can also be sponsored by an employer. The “waiver” part of the National Interest Waiver 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. This waiver is available under the EB-2 green card category, which means that besides proving that they qualify for the waiver, applicants must also have an advanced degree or be able to show they have exceptional ability.
In order to qualify for the waiver, the applicant must show they meet the three requirements outlined in the Matter of Dhanasar court case:
- The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
- The foreign national is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and
- On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.
A common question from clients is what documents must be submitted as part of a National Interest Waiver application. The exact documents submitted will depend on the specifics of the applicant’s case, however we have included a list below of supporting documents that are normally submitted with an EB-2 National Interest Waiver petition:
Documents to demonstrate that the applicant meets the threshold requirements for EB-2:
- Copy of advanced degree, transcripts & prior work experience (if you are qualifying with a Bachelor’s plus 5 years of post-baccalaureate progressive work experience)
- Evidence that you meet 3 of the 7 criteria to show exceptional ability. The criteria are listed below:
- Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
- Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
- A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
- Membership in a professional association(s)
- Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
- Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable
Evidence that the applicant qualifies for the National Interest Waiver
- News articles, academic papers, market research, relevant data & statistics, comprehensive business plan (for entrepreneurs) and other objective evidence to demonstrate substantial merit & national importance of your proposed endeavor
- Expert letters – these letters may be used to demonstrate substantial merit & national importance of the endeavor and to show that the applicant is well positioned to advance the endeavor
- Applicant’s resume, degrees, proof of professional accomplishments (awards, patents, presentations at conferences, industry or media recognition, etc). Evidence of past history of success in a relevant field is particularly important
- Personal statement from the applicant described proposed endeavor
- Entrepreneurs may also include proof of contracts, letters of intent, a comprehensive business plan & proof of startup capital to show the endeavor is likely to succeed
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