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National Interest Waivers

National Interest Waivers

A National Interest Waiver (“NIW”) petition is an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) that enables certain research scientists, professors and other professionals to obtain permanent residence and forego, or waive, the normal labor certification requirement for employment based 2nd preference (EB-2) individuals. Beneficiaries do not require a PERM labor certification. To qualify, a foreign national must be able to show that s/he possesses exceptional ability in her field or a master's degree, work overwelmingly, furthers the U.S. national interest, and the work is in an area of substantial intrinsic merit. In recent years, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has imposed an increasingly high standard on NIW petitions. Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”) are not uncommon. As a result, these petitions require careful preparation and a great deal of effort to collect strong supporting evidence. 

Supporting evidence might include:

  • Educational documents
  • Letters from independent experts confirming the national impact of the applicant’s work
  • Awards recognizing accomplishments
  • Publications written by or about the applicant

NIW petitions are unique immigrant visa petitions in that a foreign national beneficiary may self petition without a U.S. employer sponsor. Though an approved National Interest Waiver petition does not currently allow foreign nationals born in India or China an immediate opportunity to file for Adjustment of Status, it does provide a basis for extensions beyond the six-year cap in H-1B status where visa numbers are retrogressed. 

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