What is a National Interest Waiver Green Card? 

March 1, 2024

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a provision within the employment-based immigration system in the United States that allows certain foreign nationals to obtain a waiver of the job offer and labor certification typically required for employment-based immigrant visas (Green Cards). This waiver is granted if the individual’s work is deemed to be in the national interest of the United States.

Here are key points about the National Interest Waiver:

  1. Purpose and Eligibility:The National Interest Waiver is designed for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in their respective fields, such as science, business, arts, or education. To be eligible, the applicant must demonstrate that their work is of substantial intrinsic merit and has a national impact.
  2. Job Offer Waiver:Unlike many other employment-based immigration categories, the National Interest Waiver allows foreign nationals to seek permanent residency (Green Card) without the need for a specific job offer from a U.S. employer. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for individuals who wish to self-petition or pursue entrepreneurial endeavors.
  3. NIW Criteria:To qualify for a National Interest Waiver, the applicant must meet certain criteria, which generally include:
    • Possessing an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their field.
    • Demonstrating a record of exceptional achievements or expertise.
    • Proving that their work is in the national interest of the United States.
  1. National Interest Standard:The concept of “national interest” can vary but is generally understood to mean that the individual’s work provides substantial benefit to the United States, either economically, culturally, scientifically, or in other ways that contribute to the well-being of the nation.
  2. Self-Petitioning:One unique feature of the National Interest Waiver is that individuals can self-petition, meaning they can file the immigration petition on their own behalf without the need for an employer to sponsor them. This is particularly advantageous for researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and others with significant achievements in their fields.
  3. Application Process:The process begins with the filing of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, along with supporting documentation that demonstrates the individual’s qualifications and the national interest of their work. If the I-140 petition is approved, the individual can then apply for adjustment of status or an immigrant visa to obtain permanent residency.
  4. EB-2 Preference Category:The National Interest Waiver is typically associated with the EB-2 (Employment-Based Second Preference) preference category, which is reserved for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.
  5. USCIS Adjudication:The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews National Interest Waiver petitions and assesses whether the applicant meets the eligibility criteria. The adjudication process involves a thorough examination of the individual’s qualifications and the national interest impact of their work.

Obtaining a National Interest Waiver can be a complex process, and applicants are advised to carefully follow the guidelines and provide robust documentation to support their case. Seeking the assistance of immigration attorneys or professionals with experience in the National Interest Waiver category can be beneficial in navigating the application process successfully.

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