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National Interest Waivers

The National Interest Waiver or NIW is part of the second employment-based category (EB-2) for aliens of exceptional ability in sciences, arts or business and advanced degreed professionals. In order to be considered an alien of exceptional ability, the CIS regulations require that at least three of the following types of evidence be established:

  • (a) An official academic record showing that the alien has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;
  • (b) Evidence in the form of letters from current or former employers showing that the alien has at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation for which he or she is sought;
  • (c) A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
  • (d) Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary, or other remuneration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability
  • (e) Evidence of membership in professional associations;
  • (f) Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business associations.
Someone who meets three of these requirements or has an advanced degree and has a job offer from a U.S. employer can process a labor certification under the EB-2 category. However, someone who qualifies for the National Interest Waiver is deemed to be of such value to the United States that he/she is neither required to process a labor certification nor have a job offer.

What are its major advantages?

The National Interest Waiver has the obvious advantage that a U.S. sponsor is not required. The applicant sponsors herself/himself based upon his/her outstanding achievements and professional knowledge. Consequently, the applicant controls her/his own fate. Furthermore, by avoiding the labor certification process substantial time can be saved in the processing of the petition.

Could I possibly qualify for the National Interest Waiver?

In addition to the requirements mentioned above, the CIS will consider the following factors in evaluating a request for National Interest Waiver:
  • (a) Whether the alien seeks employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit.
Basically, is an important national goal involved in the alien's particular field of endeavor?
  • (b) Whether the proposed benefit will be national in scope:
Merely serving a regional or local interest is not sufficient. The emphasis of this factor is on the existence of a national goal that the alien will promote.
  • (c) Whether the national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification would be required for the alien:
The first step in meeting this test is establishing that the alien possesses unique knowledge, abilities, or experience that set him or her apart from other professionals in the field. The second step is establishing that the applicant will use these unique attributes in an activity that will significantly benefit her/his field of endeavor.

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