National Interest Waiver


A National Interest Waiver (NIW) petition falls in the employment-based, second-preference (EB-2) immigration category. For most EB-2 applications, petitioners need a permanent job offer and an approved labor certification. However, an NIW requests these requirements be waived for the sake of the “national interest of the United States,” thus allowing an applicant to apply for this status without a labor certification or a job offer from a U.S. employer.

In order to be qualify for an NIW petition, a beneficiary or applicant must have an “advanced degree” or “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business. The beneficiary must also persuasively demonstrate that his or her proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; that he or she is well-positioned to advance this endeavor; and that it would therefore be beneficial to the United States to waive the standard requirements of a job offer and labor certification. While each NIW case is adjudicated on its individual merits, the burden of proof is always on the applicant or beneficiary to establish that exemption from labor certification will be in the national interest of the U.S.

Even if the beneficiary has no employer, he or she may file an NIW petition on behalf of him- or herself. Alternatively, a U.S. employer can file an NIW petition on behalf of an alien. Additionally, the beneficiary can file other immigration petitions under appropriate or related categories, such as an EB-1A petition, while an NIW petition is pending.


Recent Developments

In the aftermath of the Great Recession and economic slowdown, and because of the current tightening of U.S. immigration policy, winning approval for NIW petitions has been challenging. Further complicating the application process is that the Texas and Nebraska Service Centers, which decide all NIW petitions, in practice have different approaches to adjudicating. Given the complexity and high standards inherent in an NIW petition, we strongly recommend that you seek assistance from experienced NIW immigration attorneys, especially in the current immigration climate. (For a more in-depth look at changes in NIW, click here.)

Currently, all employment-based, second-preference applicants may simultaneously file Form I-485 with their I-140 petitions, with the exception of individuals born in mainland China and India. This means that applicants are eligible to adjust status and obtain green cards faster than would be possible through labor certification or any family-based categories (other than through immediate relatives). For the latest visa bulletin cut-off dates for immigrant visa applications, click here; immigrant visa number availability is updated monthly by the State Department and is subject to change at any time. Applicants born in India and mainland China may also obtain NIW I-140 approvals, but will be able to adjust their status only when visa numbers become available in the EB-2 category.

NIW applications have clear advantages over regular employment-based immigrant petitions. Since there is no labor certification or permanent job offer requirement, an NIW is an attractive choice for scholars, researchers, postdoctoral research fellows, Ph.D. students, and other advanced degree professionals. Despite factors that generally make it difficult to receive an NIW, our approval rate remains very high as a result of our experienced immigration attorneys. 

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 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