A Complete Guide to the EB2 National Interest Waiver

Many people throughout the world dream of moving the United States and take advantage of all of its opportunities. However, it isn’t as easy as many make it out to be. Immigrating to US requires a long, tedious application process and not everyone qualifies for immigration benefits that the government of the United States of America offers. Out of the many immigration pathways made available by the U.S. government, the EB2 National Interest Waiver visa has gained widespread popularity.  The EB2-NIW is an employment-based visa that does not require sponsorship.   The NIW stands for “national interest waiver” which means that the U.S. government will waive the requirement of a job offer and Department of Labor Certfiication if the applicant can convince the U.S. government that his or her proposed endeavor will benefit the United States.  Thus, a qualified individual can “self-petition” and get a green card based on their own professional experience and skills.

The EB2-NIW visa requires a lot of documentation and includes many steps that people do not often know of or understand.  Here, we have listed all the frequently asked questions that people often struggle with.  In doing so, we aim to make the application process a bit easier for our clients.  Below is a complete, basic guide to the EB2-National Interest Waiver visa.

What Is the EB2-National Interest Waiver?

An EB2-NIW is a visa that grants an applicant permanent residency without the requirement of an employment offer.  The job offer requirement is waivered if the candidate can prove that his permanent residence in the United States would be of “national interest” and would benefit the country.

Is There Any Difference Between a Regular EB2 and an EB2- NIW Scheme?

Yes, they are both very different in terms of their requirements, processing times, and the documentation required for each. Generally, an EB2 visa or other employment-based visas require a formal employment offer for an applicant to be eligible to apply.  It also requires a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor.  An EB2-NIW, on the other hand, does not require any employment offer or labor certification by the Department of Labor, as long as the petitioner (applicant) can prove that their admittance to the United States would be of national benefit.

Who Can Apply for an EB2-NIW?

Any foreign national can apply for an EB2-NIW visa. An immigration attorney is able to complete a strong application package that checks off all of the requirements and make the appropriate legal arguments.   An applicant does not need an employer.

What Does an EB2-NIW Waive Off?

The EB2-National Interest Waiver dismisses the need for a labor certification from the Department of Labor, which is costly and takes time to obtain. This visa also waives off the requirement of an employment offer.  However, all other “entry” requirements must be met in order to become eligible for the visa.

What Are the Educational Requirements for an EB2-NIW?

This EB2-NIW visa is available to foreign nationals who have attained an advanced degree or its foreign equivalent in a professional field.   These individuals can also meet this educational requirement with a Baccalurate degree and at least 5 years of progressive experience in their field.  Individuals showing exceptional capabilities in fields such as science, technology, mathematics, engineering, arts, business, etc., also qualify for this visa.   An immigration lawyer can best assess a candidate’s professional background in order to determine under which category the candidate best qualifies.

What Constitutes an Advanced Degree?

An advanced degree under the EB2-NIW framework, is a degree or qualification higher than a bachelor’s degree. This can either have been earned in the United States by a recognized US college or university or can be a foreign equivalent of an American advanced degree.

What If the Applicant Only Has a Bachelor’s Degree without a Master’s or Any Other Advanced Degree?

If a foreign applicant only has a bachelor’s degree from the US or its foreign equivalent, without any added degree such as a Master’s or another advanced degree, he will be required to have at least 5 years of post-baccalaureate work experience in his specialized field. If the foreign national applying for this visa also lacks the required work experience, he will need to show exceptional abilities in his field in order to succeed in his application.

Who Qualifies for an EB2-NIW?

The following individuals are eligible to apply for an EB2-NIW:

  1. A foreign national who meets the educational requirements,
  2. An foreign national who meets the three-prong test in Matter of Dhanasar decision listed below:
  3. The proposed endeavor is of considerable value and national significance
  4. The applicant is capable of advancing the proposed endeavor
  5. Substantial benefits for “national interest” of the United States
  6. A foreign applicant can also qualify for this visa if he is a beneficiary physician and agrees to work full time in any field designated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He or she will have to work as a health professional in an under served area. He or she could also be eligible if a federal agency or a state department of public health decides that the physician’s work is in the public’s interest.

What Form Does an EB2 National Interest Waiver Petitioner Need to File?

An EB2-NIW petition requires the filing of Form I-140, which is best done by a professional and experienced immigration lawyer.

What Are the Chief Benefits of Petitioning for an EB2-NIW?

The EB2-NIW has numerous benefits, some of which include:

  • No employment offer is required
  • No labor certificate is necessary
  • Self-petition is permitted
  • Majority of the visas are current, apart from the visas for people of Chinese and Indian nationalities

How Many Citations/Publications Are Needed to Qualify for an EB2-NIW?

The government of the United States does not state a specific number for the required citations/publications. They are, in fact, decided by the USCIS on a case to case basis. In order to know more about your case or the number of required citations and publications for your application, it is best to seek professional assistance and get an immigration lawyer involved.

Can I Simultaneously Apply for Another Visa While Applying for an EB2-NIW Visa?

The program does not restrict an applicant from pursuing other visa programs, so yes, you can apply for other visas simultaneously while applying for an EB2-NIW. However, you will need to submit a separate I-140 form, with the additional fee and the remaining documents. It is highly suggested that if you are planning to fill more than one I-140 form, you should have an experienced immigration attorney do it for you, to increase your application’s chances of approval.

How Can a Petition for EB2 National Interest Waiver Be Submitted?

You will need to submit an I-140 Form with all the required supporting documents and mail it to the suitable service center.

How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for an EB2-NIW?

You should speak to an experienced immigration attorney who can review your credentials and complete your case. Not only will he or she be able to determine your eligibility, but he or she will also be able to make persuasive legal arguments on your behalf.

If you are interested in living and working in the United States, you may be eligible for a green card through the EB2-NIW visa program.  You can contact our offices today to speak to a qualified immigration lawyer.  We speak English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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