The EB-2 National Interest Waiver: How To Self-Petition
The employment-based immigration visa under second preference (i.e. EB-2) is reserved for advanced degree professionals and, in most cases, requires applicants to have a specific job offer. You must also rely on your employer to petition on your behalf.
As part of the process, your employer must obtain the corresponding approved labor certification through PERM. But that process is often long, arduous, and expensive. In fact, applying through PERM takes an average of one year, and sometimes much longer.
There is, however, another path to the EB-2. A third option, known as the national interest waiver (NIW) allows applicants to self-petition without employment, bypassing the PERM process.
To qualify, you must meet two sets of criteria.
#1: The General Eligibility Test
There are three ways to pass the General Eligibility Test for the EB-2:
#1 You have an advanced degree of a Master's or higher (e.g. PhD, MD, JD, etc.)
#2 You have a Bachelor's Degree with 5 years of progressive work experience
#3 You meet the USCIS “exceptional ability” requirements, deeming yoru employment in the United States to greatly benefit the nation.
While most NIW green card applicants already pass the General Eligibility EB-2 Test through the first two options, exceptional ability requires a stronger petition, as the burden of proof lies with you to prove your case.
What Is Exceptional Ability?
The USCIS has documented six requirements in order to meet evidence of exceptional ability. Petitioners must meet at least three requirements in order to qualify for the NIW. They are as follows:
- An 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 the area of exceptional ability
- Evidence in the form of letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 10 years of full-time experience in the occupation.
- A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation.
- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrate exceptional ability.
- Evidence of membership in a professional association
- Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities or professional or business organizations.
The National Interest Waiver Test
- Your proposed work has both substantial merit and national importance
- You are well-positioned to advance your proposed work and
- When balancing all the factors, it would be in the national interest of the U.S. to grant you a waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirements.
The NIW Process: Where To Start
There are two forms you’ll need to file your NIW green card application: the I-140 Immigrant Petition and an I-485 Adjustment of Status Application. Both can be found on the USCIS website: I-140 and I-485.
Legalpad can help you determine eligibility and the best option based on your goals and unique credentials. Contact us today.