The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a green card category (EB-2) that is appropriate for a wide variety of areas, including business, culture, health, education, technology, science and entrepreneurialism among others. For NIW applicants who are applying as entrepreneurs, especially those whose endeavors are in the startup stage, a comprehensive business plan is an important part of the NIW application.
What is the National Interest Waiver?
The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is an employment based green card category that permits self-petitioning. The waiver part of the name 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. The NIW falls under the EB-2 green card category, which means that any applicant must have an advanced degree or equivalent (a baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree plus 5 years of post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in the field) or be able to demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.
After meeting these requirements, the applicants must also demonstrate that hey qualify for the NIW by showing that their proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; that they are 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. Changes in NIW law have made NIW petitions more available to entrepreneurs and other categories.
When should a business plan be included in a National Interest Waiver petition?
For NIW applicants applying as entrepreneurs, it is a good idea to include a comprehensive business plan in the application. A strong business plan is especially important if the proposed endeavor is a start up or in its early stages, but even established companies could benefit from including a business plan to show the planned trajectory of the company and reinforce how the company’s activities will serve areas of substantial merit and national importance.
What should be included in a business plan that is submitted with a National Interest Waiver petition?
A business plan for a NIW application should include the following:
- An Executive summary/description of goods or services to be provided that clearly lays out the substantial merit and national importance of the endeavor. What target market will be served? What need is being met and why is it important?
- A description of the management team that focuses on the skills & expertise of the NIW applicant. One of the NIW requirements is showing that the applicant is well positioned to advance the endeavor. The business plan can explain the applicant’s background, focusing on a track record of prior success in the industry, and explain what they will do to make this endeavor a success.
- A detailed personnel plan that shows planned hiring over a 3 to 5 year period. If the entrepreneur is focusing on job creation as one of the reasons why their endeavor has substantial merit and national importance, the personnel plan can demonstrate how they plan to achieve these goals. This is especially important if the endeavor is in the startup stage and has not had a chance to hire many employees yet.
- Explanation of funding/startup capital, financial projections, fee structures, marketing strategies & client lists. The NIW applicant needs to demonstrate that the endeavor is more likely than not to succeed. Demonstrating that there is a realistic, practical and achievable financial plan supported by sound marketing strategies helps support the argument that the company is more likely than not to succeed.
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