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National Interest Waivers

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Individuals eligible for National Interest Waiver (NIW) classification may enjoy substantial advantages in the green card process.


NIW applicants must demonstrate threshold EB-2 eligibility either by holding an advanced degree (or a bachelors with 5+ years of relevant experience) or possessing exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Evidence of exceptional ability includes appropriate lesser degrees, employment verification letters, favorable salary history, licenses, associational memberships, professional recognition, and/or awards.


The more challenging set of NIW criteria is the extensive evidence required to show that the individual’s work will be in the “national interest” of the U.S. Specifically, (a) the individual’s work must have substantial intrinsic merit and must be national in scope; (b) the individual must be in a position to advance the proposed endeavor; and (c) the endeavor must be such that the national interest would be adversely affected by testing the labor market, through labor certification, to find a U.S. worker with the minimum qualifications for the position.


Essential factors to the success of a NIW case include evidence that the individual’s personal work will accomplish any of the following: improve the U.S. economy, wages, and/or working conditions; improve educational and training programs for U.S. children and/or under-qualified workers; provide more affordable housing for young, aged, or poor U.S. residents; improve the U.S. environment and lead to more productive use of the national resources; and/or directly benefit an interested U.S. government agency.


This visa is especially beneficial for entrepreneurs. Available to persons with an advanced degree, or of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business and requiring neither a job offer nor labor certification, this avenue to permanent resident status does require establishing that that applicant will engage in work which is in the “national interest” of the United States as documented by extensive and strong evidence. An immigrant visa petition and a request for a waiver of the labor certification requirement under this category must include at least three of the following:

  • Evidence that the applicant has an advanced degree from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability.

  • Evidence in the form of letters from current or former employers showing that the applicant has at least ten years of full-time experience in the field for which he or she is being sought.

  • A license to practice the profession or certification for the profession.

  • Evidence that the applicant has commanded a salary or other remuneration for services which demonstrate exceptional ability.

  • Evidence of membership in professional associations.

  • Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to industry or the applicant’s field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations.

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