The EB-2 second preference employment-based visa is reserved for professionals holding an advanced degree or who have exceptional ability. The National Interest Waiver (NIW) program recognizes that the skills of certain foreign nationals are of particular interest to the United States and so some steps may be waived to streamline the application process.

How is the National Interest Waiver Different Than the Regular EB-2 Application Process?

Generally, EB-2 applicants must submit a DOL-approved Labor Certification with their application to USCIS. This requirement is waived under the National Interest Waiver program. You are, thus, relieved of the arduous process of proving to the Department of Labor that you are displacing American workers. Instead, you file the Labor Certification directly to the USCIS along with your Petition for Alien Worker. Skipping this step also means a faster processing time.

Another advantage of the EB-2 NIW is that you do not need a sponsor, as you ordinarily would with other types of employment-based visas. Instead, you can self-petition, and thereby have more freedom and options to practice your occupation.

Criteria for the EB-2 Visa

To qualify for the National Interest Waiver, you must prove your exceptional abilities, as you would with any other EB-2, plus demonstrate how your permanent work in the United States is in the national interest. Documents that prove your exceptional abilities may include:

  • Diplomas and certificates relating to your exceptional ability
  • Letters attesting to your 10 or more years of full-time experience in your field
  • Licenses or certifications that may be required to practice your profession
  • A salary or other remuneration that reflects your exceptional abilities
  • Membership in professional associations
  • Recognition by your peers, government agencies or business organizations for your achievements and significant contributions to your trade

You may also include any comparable evidence to the documentation listed above. The more documentation you provide the better. You must then take that next step of showing the link between your skills and accomplishments to the interests of the United States.

What Types of Occupations Are in the National Interest?

You have every intention of dedicating your skills and hard work to benefit the United States. However, when does your contribution cross the line into national interests? Immigration regulations have not established a definitive list of occupations and abilities that meet the NIW criteria. Furthermore, these may change over time along with shifting demands and the availability of professionals who can satisfy these needs.

Basically, disciplines with a shortage of skilled practitioners may qualify. Also, individuals who barely miss the high bar for an EB-1 extraordinary ability visa can often demonstrate that their exceptional abilities would greatly benefit the United States. Examples, of successful EB-2 applications have been in the fields of biochemistry, computer engineering, molecular biology and biomedical engineering, which require extensive training, education and experience, and contribute to the country.

Wondering if you qualify for the National Interest Waiver Program? Talk to an immigration attorney today!

*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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