Step into the realm of employment-based immigration with our in-depth exploration of the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) Green Card. In this article, we unveil the advantages this immigrant visa offers to professionals holding an advanced degree or possessing ‘exceptional ability,’ who are working in an area of National Interest to the U.S. government. We will cover the Dhanasar criteria, known as the factors that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services considers to evaluate whether an applicant qualifies for the National Interest Waiver. 

Join us as we embark on a journey  to understand the EB-2 National Interest Waiver application process, culminating in your pathway to attaining lawful permanent residence in the United States. 

Please remember that this article does not provide any legal advice. If you would like to discuss your immigration situation, please speak with the immigration attorney. If you would like to speak with our lawyer, please contact us here.

An Introduction to the EB-2 NIW

In the intricate landscape of U.S. immigration, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a unique opportunity for professionals, and individuals of exceptional ability, to elevate their careers on American soil while working in an area that is of National Importance to the United States. 

Unlike traditional employment-based visas, the EB-2 NIW offers a unique pathway to permanent residency, granting individuals the freedom to pursue their professional endeavors, without requiring the applicant to provide evidence of a job offer or requiring them to undergo the cumbersome labor certification process known as PERM, which is a traditional requirement of the employment-based immigration process. Instead, the National Interest Waiver, allows eligible applicants to bypass this process, and self-petition to work in their area of National Interest in the United States. 

Those seeking a National Interest Waiver are essentially asking the U.S. Government to waive the requirement of a job offer, and thus of a labor certification, based on the National Importance of their endeavor, and their expertise gained through the attainment of a professional advanced degree, or by a showing of ‘exceptional ability’ in their field. 

Professionals who apply for the National Interest Waiver come from all walks of life and have expertise in a variety of fields, such as the sciences, arts, business, or academia. 

By demonstrating their significant contributions to fields deemed crucial for the United States’ economic, cultural, or societal advancement, applicants can petition for a waiver of the job offer and the labor certification requirement. This flexibility empowers individuals to pursue opportunities that align with their expertise and passions, fostering innovation and growth across various sectors of the U.S. workforce. 

Throughout this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of the EB-2 NIW Green Card, exploring its unique advantages, eligibility criteria, application process, and success stories. Join us on this enlightening journey as we unlock the doors to professional achievement and pave the way for your immigration success.

The Hidden Gems: Exploring its Unique Advantages

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) Green Card offers professionals distinct advantages:

  1. Freedom to Innovate: Individuals can pursue their professional career goals without a specific job offer, fostering innovation and creativity.
  2. Streamlined Path to Permanent Residency: Bypassing the labor certification process accelerates the journey to permanent residency.
  3. Career Flexibility: Professionals can explore diverse career paths aligned with their expertise and passions.
  4. Entrepreneurial Opportunities: Aspiring entrepreneurs can leverage the EB-2 NIW to launch and grow their ventures in the U.S.
  5. International Recognition: Obtaining the EB-2 NIW enhances professional reputation and opens doors to global opportunities.

These advantages make the EB-2 NIW a highly sought-after choice for professionals aiming to advance their careers in the United States.

Elevating Careers: Benefits for Professionals

The EB-2 NIW Green Card works as a powerful tool for elevating careers and achieving professional success in the United States.  In this section, we’ll explore how the EB-2 NIW serves as a catalyst for career advancement and empowers individuals to reach new heights of success.

Career Stability and SecuritySecure permanent residency for long-term career stability and growth.
Access to High-demand IndustriesUnlock lucrative opportunities in STEM fields and other high-demand and emerging industries in the U.S.’ thriving economy, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain technology.
Networking and CollaborationForge valuable connections and collaborate with industry leaders for professional development and success in the U.S. 
Professional RecognitionGain international recognition and advance professionally, opening doors to promotions, advancements, and career opportunities.
Personal FulfillmentEnjoy a higher quality of life and personal satisfaction in the U.S., with access to world-class education, healthcare, and cultural amenities.

Accelerating Advancement: The Career Boost

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) Green Card offers professionals a significant career boost. Firstly, it expedites career progression by providing job security and mobility, enabling professionals to pursue higher-level positions. Secondly, it opens doors to top-tier opportunities in prestigious organizations, particularly in STEM fields. Additionally, it not only increases earning potential but also enhances professionals’ ability to leverage their expertise and qualifications, thereby empowering them to negotiate higher salaries and benefits. This newfound leverage allows individuals to assert their value within their respective industries, positioning them for greater career advancement opportunities and influence within their fields. Furthermore, as mentioned above, beneficiaries of the National Interest Waiver gain recognition and influence within their industries, leading to leadership opportunities.

Overall, the National Interest Waiver empowers individuals to achieve their professional goals and make a lasting impact in their fields. 

Fueling Innovation: Research and Creativity 

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) Green Card catalyzes both career advancement and innovation across various fields in the United States. Professionals with this visa contribute to:

  1. Research initiatives
  2. Foster collaborative partnerships
  3. Support entrepreneurial ventures
  4. Advanced technological breakthroughs in STEM fields
  5. Nurture creative excellence beyond traditional domains
  6. Contribute to American innovation through their inventions, research, and other professional contributions. 

Carving a path to permanent residency status through national importance initiatives, the EB-2 NIW empowers individuals to drive innovation, create impactful solutions, and enrich cultural diversity in the United States.

Navigating the Path: Eligibility and Application

Before applying for the EB-2 NIW, it’s crucial to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. 

According to USCIS, the preliminary criteria to qualify for the NIW include the following:

  • Holding an advanced degree in the field of expertise (a master’s degree or higher) or baccalaureate degree plus at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialty OR
  • If you do not possess an advanced degree, you may still qualify by demonstrating that you have attained ‘exceptional ability’ in the sciences, arts, or business. 

Exceptional ability is defined as having “a degree of expertise that is significantly above that ordinary encountered in the progression.”

  • Those applying based on their exceptional ability must also meet at least three of the criteria outlined 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 from current or former employers 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.

The Dhanasar Criteria

  • Finally, once the preliminary requirements have been satisfied, applicants must also demonstrate that their work is in the national interest of the United States. This is done by satisfying the Dhanasar criteria, which is a three-prong test to prove the national importance of the endeavor. 

The Dhanasar criteria are as follows: 

  • The proposed endeavor must have both substantial merit and national importance.
  • The applicant must demonstrate they are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.
  • On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer, and thus the labor certification.

“National Interest of the United States” refers to activities, initiatives, or contributions that are deemed beneficial or essential to the overall well-being, prosperity, security, or advancement of the country as a whole.

Application Process

1. Gathering Supporting Documentation

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, gather the necessary supporting documentation for your application. This may include but is not limited to evidence of your qualifications, achievements, publications, and letters of recommendation from experts in your field.

2. Completing the Application Forms

The NIW application process involves completing various forms, including Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker), and once approved, applicants may proceed with filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) also known as the green card application. These forms require detailed information about your background, employment history, and reasons for seeking permanent residency.

3. Securing Letters of Support

One of the critical components of the EB-2 NIW application is securing letters of support from reputable individuals in your field. These letters should attest to your professional qualifications, expertise, exceptional abilities, contributions to the field, and the national interest value of your work.

4. Preparing for the Interview (If Required)

If you reside overseas, you will be required to attend an interview as part of your immigrant visa application process also known as Consular processing. However, if you are filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) while inside the United States, you will typically not be required to attend an interview. Applicants subject to an interview must familiarize themselves with the details of their application and be ready to answer questions about their qualifications and intentions.

5. Submitting the Application and Waiting for Approval

Once you’ve completed all the necessary steps and gathered all the required documentation, you can submit your application for the EB-2 NIW. After submission, you’ll need to wait for USCIS to process your application and decide on your eligibility for the National Interest Waiver. Additionally, applicants have the option of applying for premium processing, which expedites the review process for an additional fee. To apply for premium processing, applicants must submit Form I-907 along with the required fee. 

Please note: The information provided in this document is not intended as legal advice. Prospective applicants are advised to consult with an attorney to ascertain the specific documentation required for their individual case. 

Rising Above: Overcoming Application Challenges

The application process may present various obstacles, however, with careful planning and strategic approaches, these challenges can be overcome. Here are some common challenges applicants may encounter and strategies for rising above them:

Complex DocumentationCreate a checklist and seek professional assistance to ensure accurate and complete documentation.
Legal ComplexityConsult experienced immigration attorneys for guidance on legal requirements and procedural intricacies.
Demonstrating National InterestClearly articulate the significance of your contributions and provide compelling evidence to support your case.
Addressing RFEs or DenialsMethodically address requests for evidence or denials, seeking professional assistance if needed.
Managing TimelinesDevelop a timeline and utilize reminders to stay organized and meet deadlines effectively.

Inspiring Journeys: Success Stories and the Impact of EB-2 NIW

The journey to obtain the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is not just about fulfilling a legal requirement; it’s about realizing dreams and making significant contributions to the United States. In this section, we present theoretical scenarios illustrating inspiring success stories of individuals who hypothetically attained the EB-2 NIW Green Card, showcasing the potentially profound impact it could have on their lives and the nation.

  1. Innovative Entrepreneurs: Meet Sarah, a tech entrepreneur from Canada who received the EB-2 NIW Green Card for her groundbreaking work in artificial intelligence. With her secured permanent residency status, Sarah could expand her startup and collaborate with leading tech companies, driving innovation and job creation in the United States.
  2. Pioneering Researchers: Dr. Patel, an accomplished scientist from Germany, obtained the EB-2 NIW Green Card for his contributions to medical research. With his residency status secured, Dr. Patel established his research laboratory at a renowned university, where he continues to make groundbreaking discoveries in cancer treatment, saving countless lives.
  3. Creative Visionaries: Maria, an acclaimed artist from Brazil, pursued the EB-2 NIW to further her career in the United States. With her residency status secured, Maria gained recognition for her vibrant paintings and sculptures, enriching the cultural landscape and inspiring others to pursue their artistic passions.

These success stories exemplify the transformative power of the EB-2 NIW, empowering individuals from diverse backgrounds to realize their potential and make lasting contributions to the nation’s prosperity and advancement.

Sealing the Deal: Your Gateway to Professional Triumph

Congratulations on embarking on this journey! Now, let’s seal the deal and pave the way for your professional triumph: 

  1. Finalize Your Application: Review all documents for accuracy and completeness. Seek professional assistance from an immigration attorney or qualified immigration professional if needed.
  2. Address Any Concerns: Promptly respond to requests for evidence or denials. Seek legal guidance if necessary.
  3. Prepare for Success: Research career opportunities, network, and envision your impact in the United States.

By taking these steps, you’re one step closer to achieving professional triumph in your journey.

If you are interested in determining your eligibility for the EB-2NIW Visa kindly complete this brief screening, and our team of attorneys will carefully review your accomplishments.


  • How does the EB-2 NIW differ from other employment-based green cards?

    The EB-2 NIW allows individuals to bypass the labor certification process and emphasizes contributions to the national interest.
  • Highlight the unique aspects of the NIW, such as the waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirements.

    The EB-2 NIW offers flexibility by waiving the job offer and labor certification requirements, allowing applicants to pursue opportunities aligned with their expertise, however, the employer can be supporting because of the project that is of national importance.
  • Can family members accompany the EB-2 NIW holder to the United States?

    Yes, family members, including spouses and children, can accompany the EB-2 NIW holder to the United States, and file their adjustment of status (green card) applications as a family.
  • Are there any common reasons for EB-2 NIW application denials?

    Common reasons for denial may include insufficient evidence of advanced degree or exceptional ability or contributions to fields deemed essential for the national interest.
  • Can I apply for an EB-2 NIW from outside the United States?

    Yes, you can apply from outside the United States, following the required procedures and documentation. The application process typically involves submitting the required documentation to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from your current location. However, it’s essential to consult with an immigration attorney or qualified immigration professional to understand the specific requirements and procedures for applying from abroad.