Everything You Wanted to Know about EB-2 NIW Visas
Individuals seeking an employment-based immigration visa generally must have a job offer in hand and a labor certification before having any chance of obtaining a green card. But if you’re a foreign business owner, you may be able to circumvent these requirements if you’re eligible for a National Interest Waiver (NIW). This second preference for an employment-based immigration visa is commonly known as the EB-2 NIW.
The EB-2 NIW green card allows foreigners who hold advanced degrees or who can demonstrate “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts or business to self-petition for a visa without the intervention of an employer. To obtain this visa, applicants must file the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, along with evidence of “the national interest.”
Eligibility for the National Interest Waiver
Federal law does not define “national interest.” The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines each NIW application on a case-by-case basis, and every USCIS center may take a different approach. However, in December 2016, the Administrative Appeals Office issued a decision in a case called Matter of Dhanasar
that helps clarify standards for determining eligibility.
The decision establishes that foreign nationals must demonstrate that:
- their proposed endeavors have “substantial merit and national importance”
- they are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, and
- that, on balance, waiving the job offer and labor certification requirements would benefit the United States.
Under these requirements, the USCIS officer may examine your educational background, (usually requiring a higher degree, such as an MS or Ph.D.), outstanding achievements and awards, relevant skills, a previous record of success and a business plan.
You must also be able to clearly explain how this work benefits the United States. On the whole, you must demonstrate that waiving the job offer and labor certification requirement outweighs the benefits of demanding it.
EB-2 NIW Processing Time
The processing time for an NIW is usually 3 to 9 months, although it depends on the USCIS Service Center and the unique circumstance of your case.