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National Interest Waiver


The "National Interest Waiver" (NIW) is a provision of the second preference employment-based category which allows a foreign national to bypass the labor certification process by self-petitioning for permanent residence based on professional achievements in the applicable field of endeavor. This waiver is available if the applicant's work is in the national interest and he has a good record of achievements in his field. The NIW is typically utilized by postdoctoral researchers, but can also be used by professors, industry researchers, artists, and business people.

NIW is for the second preference employment-based category. Therefore, the threshold requirement is a master's degree or exceptional ability in the field.


  • The NIW petition does not require a labor certification.
  • The NIW petition does not require a permanent job offer from a U.S. employer. Therefore, the beneficiary can self-petition. This means that the petition does not require the signature of anyone at the university or company where the beneficiary is employed.
  • The NIW petition provides more options in job opportunities. Compared to the labor certification process, the beneficiary can change jobs much sooner and can change to a much broader range of job opportunities.
  • In some cases, the beneficiary can be self-employed.


  • NIW approval requires that the beneficiary document impact on the field as a whole. Good grades alone or assisting on some major federally funded project (no matter how important that project may seem) are insufficient.
  • The adjudication policy the USCIS applies to NIW cases remains quite flexible and often changes, the outcome of NIW petition can also be less predictable than the labor certification process.
  • In some cases, it is difficult to show a benefit is national in scope. For example, research centering on the ecology of small region of the U.S, and benefiting primarily that region, might not qualify.


The statute, regulations and interpretation of National Interest Waiver criteria are quite complex. Since each NIW case will be judged on its own merit, it is hard to predict the outcome of a case unless the person preparing the petition has a good understanding of all relevant laws, requirements, and precedents. Therefore, professionals considering a NIW petition should evaluate his credentials and immigration objectives with a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney specializing in NIW petitions. Immigration Law Associates, P.C. has the special expertise you are looking for. With a dedicated science immigration staff, we have the ability to structure your educational and professional accomplishments to present a persuasive immigration case. Please call 847-763-8500 to schedule your confidential consultation today.