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How can I prove that my work will impact my field more broadly to support national importance for an NIW petition?

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A key consideration for preparing a successful EB-2 NIW green card petition is presenting a persuasive case to the government that the applicant’s work not only has substantial merit, but has broad enough implications to the field or to the nation to support a finding of national importance.

Explaining and supporting the prospective impact of an applicant’s proposed endeavor is at the heart of an NIW petition, especially given the new framework for assessing NIWs set by the precedent decision, Matter of Dhanasar in 2016. This case pivoted the inquiry away from the geographic scope of a proposed endeavor and clarified that an undertaking may have national importance if it has “national or even global implications within a particular field, such as those resulting from certain improved manufacturing processes or medical advances.”

How can petitioners show that their work will have a broad impact on their field? One strategy is to focus on innovation. For example, let’s consider an applicant in education who developed a new model for the delivery of education materials in the virtual learning environment, which was implemented by the university where the applicant worked. To support national importance, the applicant should sufficiently explain how the applicant’s model was different or better than other models already available in the field of distance education to support a finding of impact to this field. In addition, there should be evidence that this model is sufficiently unique or novel to have reached beyond the University in which the applicant worked and has informed the work of other experts in the field more broadly, for example, by being featured in industry-wide shortlists as a notable development, the program being licensed to others, or having been the subject of industry presentations or papers.

Let’s consider another example of an applicant in the medical device industry. Let’s say the applicant has developed robotic exoskeleton devices to assist the mobility and rehabilitation of individuals. To argue national importance, the applicant could explain the specific ways in which their devices offer new advantages to existing models in the industry, such as an innovative material and structure design that allow a more lightweight frame compared to existing models, and novel features such as technological connectivity previously unavailable. The applicant could also describe the impact of these innovations in terms of increased performance and usability by patients. The innovative nature of these advancements could be bolstered if there is evidence that any of this technology has been patented. Evidence that this model has been featured in robotics-related conferences could also support a finding of industry-wide prospective impact.

In sum, key to preparing an NIW application is developing the narrative of how the applicant’s work offers an innovative approach or development to the field that is different from and more advantageous to the prevailing approach or conventional technology. The applicant can argue that this innovation will advance their field as a whole, and therefore the benefits of their work would go beyond their immediate employer or clients.

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