The national interest waiver (NIW) visa is an excellent choice for foreign nationals who want to apply for an American green card. Nonetheless, many people have a hard time trying to figure out how to apply for a NIW and how to satisfy the requirements. In this article, you will find out all you need to know about the process of obtaining a national interest waiver green card.
National Interest Waiver Process – Understanding the Term:
The national interest waiver visa falls under the employment-based EB-2 category, along with the regular EB-2 visa. To obtain a regular EB-2 green card, applicants need to have a full-time job offer from a US employer and go through a process of labor certification (PERM). Instead, the national interest waiver allows applicants to self-petition. The waiver part of the name refers to the fact that an NIW is granted based on a waiver of the regular EB-2 requirements.
Additionally, the national interest part of the name refers to the requirement that the waiver can be granted only if it is in the national interest of the United States.
Applying for a National Interest Waiver – The Requirements:
To be eligible for an NIW visa, applicants must either have an advanced degree or equivalent or demonstrate that they have an exceptional ability in their field of expertise. An advanced degree or equivalent can be a master’s degree, a doctorate, or even a bachelor’s degree plus at least 5 years of experience in the field. Applicants who do not have an academic background can apply as long as they can demonstrate to have an “exceptional ability”. As provided by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the term exceptional ability means “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”
Since 2016, changes in legislation have made the NIW progressively more available to other categories than only individuals with academic backgrounds, entrepreneurs, and business investors.
Understanding the Matter of Dhanasar:
To establish whether an applicant is a person of national interest or not to the United States, a decision designated as the “Matter of Dhanasar” was issued in December 2016. Accordingly, other than having an advanced degree or an exceptional ability, applicants must satisfy other prongs to demonstrate their qualification for a national interest waiver. This way, after eligibility for EB-2 classification has been established, USCIS may grant an NIW visa if the applicant demonstrates:
- The substantial merit of the proposed enterprise.
- The national importance of the proposed enterprise.
- The capacity to advance the proposed enterprise.
- The benefits of the proposed enterprise to the United States that justify the waive of the standard requirements of a job offer and a labor certification process.
Applying for a National Interest Waiver – Submitting the Petition:
NIW visa applicants should start by filing an I-140 petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and providing the necessary evidence to demonstrate their qualification for the EB-2 category and the NIW green card. Given that each applicant has a distinct situation, the process of reuniting the necessary documentation and preparing the petition may vary a lot. Hence, it may take several weeks (or even months) until an applicant receives a response from USCIS, which may approve, deny, or issue a request for evidence or notice of intent to deny on the applicant’s petition.
Is it Necessary to Work with an Immigration Attorney when Applying for an NIW Visa?
Although NIW visa applicants are allowed to self-petition, working with an immigration attorney can help to increase the chances of approval. It is crucial to understand that the manner an applicant presents his/her petition is essential to obtaining a national interest waiver. As there are no interviews during the process, applicants must provide all required evidence in writing only. An experienced immigration attorney will help each applicant individually to ensure their case is presented to USCIS most comprehensively and thoroughly and will help applicants submit more evidence to support the waiving of the standard EB-2 requirements according to their situation. For instance, in some cases, it is possible to demonstrate the applicant’s impossibility to secure a job offer or to get a labor certificate due to the nature of the proposed enterprise or the applicant’s qualifications.
We Can Help You to Apply for a National Interest Waiver
You do not need to waste time and money with uncertainty when applying for a national interest waiver (NIW) green card. At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we have a team of experienced immigration attorneys to guide you throughout the process of applying and obtaining an NIW visa. Reach out to us today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a consultation.