Quick Start Guide to the National Interest Waiver

A National Interest Waiver (NIW) petition falls in the employment-based, second-preference (EB-2) immigration category. An EB-2 is geared toward professionals with advanced degrees or persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business; this includes people like engineers, doctors, researchers, artists, and the like. Normally, an EB-2 requires a permanent job offer and an approved labor certification. However, an NIW petition requests that these standard requisites be waived for the sake of the “national interest of the United States.”

Minimum Requirements

In order to qualify for an NIW, you must first satisfy requirements for an EB-2 petition. Possessing either an Advanced Degree (1-3) or Exceptional Abilities (4) qualifies you for an EB-2. In sum, you must possess at least one of the following minimum requirements:

    1. A U.S. master’s degree or higher (or its foreign equivalent), or

    2. a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent plus at least five years of progressive experience in your profession (combined, this is considered the equivalent of a master’s degree), or

    3. exceptional ability, which means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in your profession

    To learn more about the differences between an advanced degree professional and an applicant who has exceptional abilities, click here.

    Additional Requirements for an NIW

    After the applicant meets the above requirements for an EB-2, the applicant must additionally satisfy the requirements of a three-prong test to show that he or she can benefit the national interest of the United States. The applicant must provide evidence that:

    1. the applicant’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;

    2. the applicant is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and

    3. on balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.

    To learn more about NIW requirements and case studies, click here.

    Documents You’ll Need

    In addition to an Immigration Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) and an Alien Employment Certification Application (Form ETA-750B), as an NIW petitioner, you’ll need:

      1. Copy of your passport (only if you are in the U.S.);

      2. Both sides of FormI-94 (only if you are in the U.S.);

      3. Evidence of your current nonimmigrant visa status (such as Form I-20s) (only if you are in the U.S.);

      4. Your degree certificate(s) and evaluation report(s), if any, that demonstrate that your educational background is at least equivalent to a master’s degree in the U.S.;

      5. All publications, presentations, abstracts, and invitations to conferences;

      6. Citations of your publications, if any;

      7. Comments on your papers by referees of journals, if any;

      8. Requests for reprints of your publications, if any;

      9. Evidence of awards or honors received, if any;

      10. Evidence of membership in professional associations, if any;

      11. Documents on the funding of your research projects, or grant numbers, if any;

      12. Documents of your participation, either individually or on a panel, as the judge of the work of others in your field, if any;

      13. Newspaper articles about some of your reference writers, if any, in order to establish their authority in the field;

      14. Your curriculum vitae.

      You will also need letters of recommendation from experts in your field testifying to your exceptional abilities and value to the national interest. Additional detailed information about letters of recommendation for NIW applications can be found here.

      Once you send us all of the above, one of our experienced attorneys will prepare the following documents for your petition:

      I’m Ready to Apply. Now What?

      If you decide to retain our firm to complete and file your NIW petition, pleaseread a copy of our NIW contract, sign it, and mail it to us, along with a check for the initial attorney's fee. Once we receive the signed contract and the check, we will begin work on your case.

      After you send us all of the materials listed above, it usually takes us about one week to complete your petition and send it for filing. It takes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) between six months and a year to process an NIW case, but the amount of time for any given application can vary considerably. For more information on processing times, click here.

      The NIW process is complex and, at times, a bit convoluted. We recommend that you seek the assistance of experienced immigration attorneys. Over the past two decades, we have successfully represented thousands of clients in their NIW cases. If you would like to contact us, please call us at (713) 771-8433 or visit us at one of our seven locations. You can also send us an e-mail at info@hooyou.com. Our superior attorneys will ensure that you receive only the highest quality of service.

      Read the USCIS ruling (Matter of Dhanasar) governing NIW here. And for more detailed information about the National Interest Waiver, including minimum requirements and USCIS policies, please click on the relevant links on this page:

      Updated 03/23/17