The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a subset of the EB-2 visa category that allows applicants of exceptional ability or holding advanced degrees to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements upon meeting specific requirements.
In this article, you will discover how foreign physicians can obtain a national interest waiver.
What Are the Requirements to Qualify for EB-2 NIW as a Physician? – In Detail
The eligibility of physicians for an NIW depends on the agreement to work for a period in a federally designated underserved area. This designation identifies an area experiencing a shortage of health care services.
Additionally, there are other requirements physicians must meet when applying with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Full-Time Clinical Practice Work
The applicant must agree to provide full-time services in clinical practice for five years. In most cases, the period of work in a designated underserved area before the NIW petition counts towards the five-year requirement.
Primary Care / Specialty Services
When working in the designated underserved area, the applicant must provide services either in primary care or serve as a specialty physician. Primary care segments include general/family practice, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and psychiatry.
Applicants who choose to serve as specialty physicians must work in a location affected by a shortage of specialty healthcare professionals.
Designated Underserved Area Requirements
NIW physicians must work in one of the following areas:
- A Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)
- A Mental Health Professional Area (MHPSA) (Psychiatrists only)
- A Medically Underserved Area (MUA)
- A Veterans Affairs facility, or
- A Physician Scarcity Area (PSA) (if qualifying as a specialty physician)
If the location eventually loses the designation as an underserved area, an NIW physician can continue to work in that location until completing the five years required in the application.
Letter of Attestation
NIW applicants filing as physicians must obtain a letter of attestation from a federal agency or state department of health. The document must attest to the applicant’s qualifications and confirm the physician’s work is in the public interest.
Applying for EB-2 NIW as a Physician – Understanding the Process
After obtaining the attestation from an appropriate agency or department, the applicant must file Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) with USCIS and submit the letter as part of the petition. The application process generally requires additional documentation, including:
- A full-time employment contract or an employment commitment letter with a VA facility covering the required five-year period
- Evidence that the applicant will provide medical service in a full-time clinical practice located in a designated underserved area or a VA facility, and
- Evidence that the applicant has passed a US medical licensing examination, showing proficiency in oral and written English
If the applicant was a J-1 visa holder before applying for an EB-2 NIW, he or she must either provide evidence that the home residency requirement was completed or submit evidence of a waiver of the home residency requirement.
As long as there is not a backlog on the number of EB-2 visas available with USCIS, the applicant can file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) concurrently with Form I-140.