You may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa under the National Interest Waiver (NIW) Category if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or have exceptional ability, and whose employment would greatly benefit the nation. However, jobs that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined by a statute. The national interest waiver visa requests a waiver of the usually required Labor Certification because it is in the interest of the United States.
While “national interest” is not defined by regulation, the Administrative Appeals Office has provided a three factor test to determine whether one meets the requirements for a National Interest Waiver Visa. They are as follows:
- The applicant’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
- The applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; AND
- On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.
You must also show at least three of the criteria below:
- Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability.
- Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
- A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
- Membership in a professional association(s)
- Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
- other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.
Advantages to filing for a National Interest Waiver
There are several advantages to filing a National Interest Waiver and obtaining an approval in this category. Since the waiver is of the job offer requirement, it does not require that a specific job be offered to a U.S. worker by an employer. This means that those seeking a NIW may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them).
Definition of an Advanced Degree Professional
The term “advanced degree professional” means that the beneficiary either has an advanced degree (Masters degree or Doctorate) or its equivalent, and is working in an area that requires at least a Bachelor’s degree or is traditionally regarded as a profession, such as lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers, and teachers. A Bachelor’s degree plus five years’ experience in a professional or progressive occupation may also satisfy the qualification requirement of an “advanced degree.”
Demonstration of Substantial Merit and National Importance
Substantial merit may be demonstrated in a range of fields, including “business, entrepreneurialism, science, technology, culture, health or education. Evidence that the endeavor that the applicant is pursuing has the potential to create a significant economic impact is favorable, but not necessarily required.
National Importance requires a review of the potential prospective impact of the specific endeavor that the applicant will be pursuing. This is not a review of the geographic breadth of the endeavor, but rather, a consideration of the positive economic effects to the United States, including the potential to employ U.S. workers.
Evidence to show the Applicant can Advance the Proposed Endeavor
Factors that are assessed include the following:
- The applicant’s education, skills, knowledge, and record of success in related or similar efforts;
- A model or plan for future activities;
- Any progress towards achieving the proposed endeavor; AND
- the interest of potential customers, users, investors, or other relevant entities or individuals.
**Note: An applicant is not required to establish the ultimate likelihood of success of the endeavor, only that he or she is well-position to advance it.