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What kinds of proposed endeavor are likely to lead to an NIW approval?

A business man considering his NIW options

One of the most important elements of an EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is an applicant’s “proposed endeavor.” Each applicant is expected to present a plan of what they propose to do in the United States, explain why this work is nationally important, and why they are best positioned to carry out this work.

In most successful petitions, this plan is specific, focused, credible, and supported by objective evidence. At the same time, the impact of what the applicant proposes to do should be broad enough to support a conclusion that it will result in improvements to the field as a whole, or bring enough positive impact (economic or otherwise) at a level to be considered of “national” significance.

In this post, I will discuss two examples of proposed endeavor that led to successful AAO appeals cases that ultimately approved the National Interest Waiver (NIW) for the applicants.

Psychological science research project

In an approved case from November 15, 2022, an assistant professor of psychological science at a university proposed to conduct research focused on language processing in virtual reality, teaching, and learning contexts. The Petitioner had previously studied the mental processes (language, memory, attention, perception, learning) in language processing in real and virtual settings, and developing experiments or measurements to assess learning programs. Based on this, the petitioner proposed two specific “lines of research” to be pursued:

First, I want to use disparate experimental and technological tools and paradigms to further test and strengthen my previous findings regarding what is common and different when readers read different languages.”

Second, I want to further explore how both new and traditional virtual reality systems can help advance training and testing individuals in different settings and in cost-effective ways.”

In connection with this plan, the petitioner submitted support letters that explained how this research could contribute to advancing the general understanding of the cognitive processes of word recognition and development of reading comprehension assessment tools. Petitioner also linked this work to the improvement of reading disorders, which policymakers had identified as a nationally important issue. As the findings from this research would be disseminated to others through scientific journals and conferences, the AAO found the impact of this work would be broad enough to the level of national importance.

Agricultural science research project

In an approved case from December 28, 2020, an expert in agricultural soil science proposed to conduct research on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production systems, making agricultural soils more fertile and drought-resistant, using soil management practices to improve water quality, and developing organic and biological-based fertilizers.  The petitioner’s research would be focused on soil and its role in maximizing crop production, food and water security, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts provided convincing support on how the Beneficiary’s project “stood to advance development of methods for improving soil health and soil function” broadly across the field. This proposed endeavor was supported by a peer soil scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who affirmed that this research could offer alternative, sustainable fertilizer options to the field of agriculture, improve water quality, and offer scientists a deeper understanding of how the US can adapt soils affected by extreme climates. These findings, which would be disseminated to others in the field through scientific journals and conferences, were found to pose impacts that rose to the level of national importance.

As laid out in the above examples, national importance could be proven in a wide variety of fields and projects. To put your best foot forward, the assistance of an experienced attorney could greatly help you strategize on how to present a proposed endeavor that is specific, concrete, impactful, persuasive given your situation, and well supported by evidence.

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