Skip to main content

Why do I need a lawyer to prepare an NIW application? Why can’t I prepare my petition on my own?

An attorney

This website and blog constitutes attorney advertising. Do not consider anything in this website or blog legal advice and nothing in this website constitutes an attorney-client relationship being formed. Set up a one-hour consultation with us before acting on anything you read here. Past results are no guarantee of future results and prior results do not imply or predict future results. Each case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

1. Technicalities of Preparing USCIS Forms and Executing the Submission

From finding the right address to mail your petition, filling out the correct forms, to properly enclosing the right form of payment for USCIS application fees, there are a lot of technicalities to preparing a USCIS filing. Complicating matters more, USCIS updates their Forms from time to time and even a seemingly innocuous issue of using an outdated version of the Form can actually result in USCIS rejecting your case. Having a team of lawyers check and double-check every detail on each Form can give you much more confidence that your petition won’t be rejected for technicalities and will be properly judged on its merits.

2. Avoid Relying on Legally Incorrect Arguments that Harm the Merits of Your Case

There are a lot of “myths” on the internet around what kind of endeavor is considered to have national importance, which are in some cases, plain incorrect under prevailing case law and can result in hurting your case if you rely on it. One example of such a myth is that every nurse would qualify for an NIW during COVID-19 because the United States needs more nurses.  Another common misconception is that all pilots automatically qualify for an NIW because the United States has a shortage of pilots. A good NIW lawyer would know, from studying the case law, that USCIS will reject a national importance argument based on industry shortage alone; rather, the focus should be on how the petitioner’s specific endeavor stands to impact the field. Framing your case using legally incorrect arguments can undermine the credibility of an otherwise meritorious case and can result in denial.

3. Get an Informed Assessment of Your Case and Suggestions on How to Make Your Case Stronger

Another advantage of working with an experienced NIW attorney is that you can get an informed opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and get tailored suggestions on the areas you can work on to increase your chances at approval. Sometimes one more conference presentation, one more publication, one more article about you published online can make a difference. We have clients who open an NIW case with us and gradually work towards building their profile to get to a place where an NIW is viable with the help of our tailored assessment and advice. Sometimes this can take some time, so it is a good idea to target your professional development efforts to areas most likely to produce helpful evidence for an eventual NIW if this is a goal for you in the future.

4. Not All Cases Work Under the Same Strategy

The main flaw with a DIY kit is that it was tailor-made for one particular case and may not be an appropriate model to follow for a vast majority of applicants, because no two cases are the same. For instance, a DIY kit made by an academic with dozens of publications and 100+ citations will certainly not work for an entrepreneur who has no patents nor papers, but has a groundbreaking startup idea that can revolutionize the industry. This is because the academic relies on a different kind of argument for “national importance” than an entrepreneur will. And this is only one example.

The NIW is a highly discretionary category and there is no magic formula or checklist that guarantees approval of an NIW. A lot of it depends on how persuasive your argument is that your proposed endeavor will result in an impact that can be considered of “national importance.” Because of this, first impressions are very important for an NIW petition to maximize your chances of approval. We know what types of evidence to lead with, and what evidence can be added to the bottom of the pile or even excluded if not relevant or helpful. All of these decisions are strategic, and depends on the specific facts of each case. For some cases, the most powerful evidence of national importance may be a $200-million valuation report of the applicant’s enterprise. For some cases, it may be a contract with a government-affiliated agency. For other cases, it may be a pitch deck describing the outcome of a pilot project. We have seen and worked with a wide variety of cases and can help you pull out the best and most persuasive evidence and make sure these critical details are emphasized appropriately.

In conclusion, there are significant advantages to working with an experienced team of lawyers in preparing your NIW case. Lawyers cannot guarantee a particular outcome (and be wary of those who do) but we have been very successful in positioning a wide variety of cases for approval even without an RFE.  We have also taken over cases where a client’s previous lawyer prepared a poor NIW petition resulting in the client receiving a NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny) but we prepared a strong Response and actually persuaded the same officer to completely change their mind and approve the petition. This shows the power of strong advocacy on tipping the scales towards a positive outcome even in tough cases.

To learn more, check out our free resources below. You can also schedule a consultation at a date and time that is convenient for you.

FREE National Interest Waiver (NIW) Resources

Click on the buttons below in order to claim your free National Interest Waiver (NIW) Guide, sign up for our free National Interest Waiver (NIW) Webinar, or watch our National Interest Waiver (NIW) videos.

Download Our National Interest Waiver (NIW) Guide
Sign Up For Our National Interest Waiver (NIW) Webinar
Watch Our National Interest Waiver (NIW) Videos

Set up a National Interest Waiver (NIW) Consultation

For a dedicated one-on-one National Interest Waiver (NIW) consultation with one of our lawyers, click on the button below to schedule your consultation.

Schedule a consultation

With the proliferation of “Do-It-Yourself” NIW petition kits, non-lawyer consultants, and information on online forums, many prospective NIW applicants may ask, why would someone need a lawyer for an NIW application?

This post summarizes a few of the reasons why partnering with an experienced, trusted lawyer could significantly benefit you. Securing the advice of legal counsel from the beginning can save you from a lot of uncertainty and confusion when navigating this process, and also can save you time and effort by avoiding costly denials.

Leave a Reply