The National Interest Waiver (NIW) visa stands as a favored choice for foreign nationals seeking lawful residence and employment opportunities in the United States. In contrast to the standard EB-2 visa process, the NIW visa empowers applicants to self-petition, obviating the need for a job offer or labor certificate. This article provides a comprehensive understanding of the NIW visa requirements.
Applying for a National Interest Waiver Visa – The Essentials
Within the EB-2 category, two avenues are available for foreign nationals aspiring to secure an employment-based green card: the conventional EB-2 visa and the NIW visa. The distinction lies in the NIW visa’s capacity to enable self-petitioning, grounded in the fact that the NIW green card hinges on waiving the job offer and labor certification process (PERM).
NIW applicants must establish either an advanced degree or its equivalent (e.g., a master’s degree, doctorate, or a bachelor’s degree accompanied by at least five years of field-related experience) or an exceptional ability in a specific field. Additionally, it is imperative to substantiate that the applicant’s employment aligns with the interests of the United States, in accordance with the provisions of the Matter of Dhanasar.
National Interest Waiver Requirements – Explaining the Matter of Dhanasar
In December 2016, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued the Matter of Dhanasar, significantly altering the criteria for NIW application approval. This provision stipulates that following the establishment of eligibility for EB-2 classification, USCIS may grant an NIW visa if the petitioner demonstrates:
- The substantial merit of the endeavor proposed by the applicant.
- The national importance of the endeavor proposed by the applicant.
- The applicant’s well-positioned status to carry out the proposed endeavor.
- The benefits accruing to the United States from the proposed endeavor, justifying the waiver of required procedures associated with a regular EB-2 visa.
National Interest Waiver Requirements – Preparing the Paperwork
The documentation to be submitted largely hinges on the unique circumstances of each applicant. Typically, common supporting documents accompanying an NIW petition comprise copies of advanced degrees, transcripts, and prior work experience for those qualifying based on an advanced degree or its equivalent.
For applicants asserting exceptional ability, evidence must align with at least three of the seven criteria below:
- Official academic records (not necessarily a degree), such as diplomas, certificates, or similar awards from educational entities (e.g., colleges, schools, universities) related to the applicant’s exceptional ability.
- Letters of experience affirming at least a decade of full-time experience in the field of expertise.
- Professional licenses or certifications enabling practice in the field of expertise.
- Proof of receiving a high salary (above average) or commanding remuneration for services, indicative of exceptional ability.
- Recognition of achievements and substantial contributions to the field of expertise or industry by government entities, professional organizations, or businesses.
- Membership in professional associations or societies relevant to the field.
- Any other evidence of eligibility deemed acceptable by NIW standards.
National Interest Waiver Requirements – Providing Evidence
When pursuing an NIW visa, applicants must meticulously compile substantial evidence attesting to their advanced education or exceptional ability within their field of expertise. Typically, NIW applicants can employ a wide array of evidence to bolster their case, including:
- Objective evidence affirming the substantial merit and national importance of the proposed endeavor (e.g., academic papers, market research, scientific data, statistics, etc.).
- Expert letters corroborating the substantial merit and national importance of the proposed endeavor and confirming the applicant’s capability to execute it.
- Evidence of past accomplishments within the relevant field of expertise (e.g., degrees, accolades, patents, conference presentations, expert endorsements, or other indicators of professional achievements).
Entrepreneurial NIW applicants should also furnish evidence such as a comprehensive business plan, letters of intent, proof of initial capital, contractual evidence, and other documentation substantiating the venture’s likelihood of success in the United States. Additionally, it is strongly advisable for all applicants to craft a personal statement elucidating their proposed endeavor’s alignment with the United States’ interests.
We Can Help You Obtain a National Interest Waiver (NIW) Visa
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we boast seasoned immigration attorneys who will provide guidance throughout your NIW application, ensuring the creation of a comprehensive and compelling petition. Reach out to us today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a consultation.