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Can I secure an NIW approval with a small consulting firm?

consulting firm

Yes, it is possible for an entrepreneur to secure an NIW approval even if the business endeavor is smaller. There is no “minimum” in terms of jobs created and revenues generated for an entrepreneurial endeavor to qualify for an NIW. Although high revenue generation and job creation potential are helpful factors, you may be surprised to learn that small consulting firms can also make a viable case for a NIW – depending on what kind of impact it can make to the industry or society.

A case study from an AAO opinion shows this clearly. A philanthropist active in the veterans community proposed to work as in the U.S. as a self-employed consultant for various U.S. non-profit and governmental groups. Applying for an NIW, the Petitioner proposed to form a small consulting firm in the U.S. for the purpose of undertaking projects aimed at improving veterans’ services and wounded warrior care. Specifically, Petitioner’s firm would help coordinate organizations and projects that would facilitate the re-integration of returning veterans and wounded warriors into productive society.

The business plan Petitioner submitted included a list of potential clients, sales and staffing projections, but the size of the business was small. At the same time, the perspective and know-how Petitioner would bring was unique to the philanthropy field. These unique skills were made clear by testimonials in expert letters, some of which were from high-ranking government officials. Specifically, these senior officials described specific projects Petitioner had coordinated before, which connected public and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and U.K. and resulted in “significant impact” on veteran job placement, re-integration to the civilian community, and expansion of services to wounded veterans and their families to a greater degree than before.

Some expert testimonials described the significant impact Petitioner’s unique network and knowledge had in concrete terms. Tangibly, Petitioner’s connection of charities and service organizations had resulted in “millions of dollars in charitable efforts to be productively connected with Services organizations . . . that have saved and changed Service Members’ lives during their recoveries. Without him, we would not have made those links.” Another expert described how he recruited and led a team of over 100 U.S. veterans to participate in an international wounded warrior multi-sport competition.

Experts found that Petitioner’s work allowed the sharing of “best practices, ideas, and initiatives” regarding veterans employment and families care. Others recognized Petitioner’s consulting helped journalists identify important topics and powerful speakers to discuss them effectively, which “helped to bridge the divide between civilians and the military in this country.”  The government recognized the “immense value” Petitioner would provide in helping to improve programs and assist organizations that provide support and advocacy for U.S. veterans, and found that this endeavor and Petitioner’s skills and experiences amply qualified the Petitioner for an NIW.

What is the lesson to be learned here? The size of the business itself is not the only thing that matters for an NIW petition. Instead, the strength of an NIW petition depends on “what kind of impact” a Petitioner’s endeavor can make to the field and society as a whole.  Depending on the unique skills and know-how one brings, it is certainly possible to make a persuasive case that a small consulting firm would nevertheless make an outsized impact to the industry or field to merit a NIW.

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