Immigration Law Associates
Chicago Lawyer, Attorney: Green Card, H-1B, National Interest Waiver, J-1, Spouse, Fiance, Student Visa, VAWA, Citizenship, Removal, Korean, Polish, Japanese, Spanish

EB-2 National Interest Waiver

Path to Green Card for Qualifying Work


The "National Interest Waiver" (NIW) is a provision of the second preference (EB-2) employment-based immigration category. It allows a beneficiary to bypass the labor certification process and self-petition for permanent residence based on professional achievements in the field of endeavor. This waiver is available if the applicant's work is of "substantial merit" and benefits the U.S. In addition, the individual must show he or she has the background necessary for success in related future work.

The NIW is suitable for postdoctoral researchers and early career scientists, including entrepreneurs. However, it is not limited to those in the sciences: artists, teachers, mental health professionals, and many other occupations may qualify as long as they meet the requirements.

NIW Standards
The formal requirements for the NIW are as follows:



Recent Trends
In late 2016, the USCIS changed to the present analytic framework for NIW cases. Adjudications seem to favor high-skilled practitioners in every field, no matter their level of relative accomplishment in the field as long as they meet the requirements.

Application Procedure
To obtain a National Interest Waiver, the beneficiary must file a Form I-140 petition, Form ETA 9089, and supporting documents directly with USCIS. The beneficiary does not have to file anything with the Department of Labor. In addition, if a visa number is available, the beneficiary can concurrently file I-485 with I-140, and can also apply for employment authorization and travel document.

Processing time for NIW cases depends on the work load at the specific USCIS service center at which the petition is filed. Current processing times by the Service Centers can be found here.

National Interest Waiver approval requires showing that the foreign national has the background to begin or continue a project in an important field, one that will benefit the U.S. However, the Immigration Service's interpretation of its terms (e.g. "national importance" or "well-positioned") varies from case to case and year to year. Therefore, professionals considering a NIW petition should evaluate their credentials and immigration objectives with a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney.


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