The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a powerful tool for foreign nationals to obtain a U.S. green card and become a permanent residents in the United States. 

To qualify for national interest, NIW applicants must demonstrate that their activities and contributions are beneficial to the United States. In other words, the contributions are of “significant national importance” to the U.S. economy, culture, or society. While this can be a difficult task, there are several steps that potential applicants can take to help show significant national importance. 

This article will provide an overview of what it takes to show significant national importance and how applicants can present their EB-2 NIW petition for approval. With the correct information and preparation, applicants may find themselves on the path to permanent residence in the US.

The National Interest Waiver – EB-2 NIW green card

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) falls under the Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) category, which is one of the ways individuals can apply for a green card to become permanent residents of the United States.

Unlike other subcategories within EB-2, NIW allows individuals to waive the requirement of a job offer from a U.S. employer or a labor certification (also known as PERM). Because there is no requirement for labor certification, the foreign national can self-petition the case through Form I-140

This means they can apply for a green card on their own behalf without needing their employer to sponsor or petition them. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who may be worried about losing their green card if they change their employment. They will not be tied to a specific employer through the application process.

Understanding the Burden of Proof for National Interest Waiver Petitions

To qualify for a National Interest Waiver in the U.S., the petitioner must meet certain requirements, one of which is to demonstrate that they will pursue an activity that serves the national interest of the United States. In addition, they must provide evidence of their exceptional ability in their field or hold an advanced degree equivalent to a Master’s degree or higher.

Demonstrating either exceptional ability in their field or holding an advanced degree in a related field not only strengthens their argument that their proposed activity would serve the national interest but it also provides evidence that they have the necessary skills and expertise to advance the proposed endeavor successfully. 

Exploring the Criteria for a National Interest Waiver

The USCIS has established three criteria the foreign national must meet to be eligible for a National Interest Waiver.

1. Petitioners must demonstrate that their proposed endeavor has substantial merit and national importance.

The first NIW standard centers on the applicant’s profession or work area. To fulfill this requirement, the NIW application should describe the foreign national’s intended professional objectives and how their work would be advantageous to the United States.

It is common for applications to highlight the significance of the proposed project to the country by emphasizing the links between the candidate’s field and important national topics like the national economy, technological advancement, employment opportunities, international competitiveness, public health, security, or infrastructure development.

Supporting evidence for such claims should be obtained from reliable sources, including official government statistics or research articles published in respected academic and industry journals. By providing compelling arguments supported by reliable data, applicants can demonstrate the relevance and value of their work to the United States.

This component of an NIW case can significantly enhance its chances of success by including recommendation letters from a specialist in the applicant’s field. The support letter should address the potential importance of the foreign national’s proposed project and their qualifications and achievements in the relevant area of expertise.

These experts’ endorsements can add credibility to the application and provide an outside perspective on the value of the candidate’s work. Additionally, the letters should highlight the applicant’s exceptional abilities and the unique contributions they can make to the field. Ultimately, the expert’s letters can provide additional evidence of the candidate’s potential to promote national interests and boost the success of their NIW petition.

Meeting the initial criterion alone does not ensure the success of the NIW petition. The application must still undergo a thorough review process, during which the government will assess the merits of the project and the applicant’s qualifications in light of the specific circumstances. Thus, although fulfilling the first requirement is an essential step, it is not a guarantee of success, and each application will be subject to scrutiny.

2. Petitioners must show that they are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.

The second standard for the NIW requirements emphasizes the candidate’s proficiency and achievements in their chosen field. To meet this requirement, the NIW application should include proof of the applicant’s educational background, work history, career accomplishments, and recognition from professional peers. 

The evidence presented should demonstrate the applicant’s expertise in the relevant area and their capacity to contribute significantly to the field. 

If the applicant holds a degree, especially one equivalent to a U.S. Master’s degree or higher, the NIW petition should detail the candidate’s education and how their learning can be applied to the proposed endeavor. Such information can illustrate the foreign national’s competence and how it can be directly beneficial to the project and, by extension, the interest of the U.S. 

Providing proof of the applicant’s work experience can be even more compelling for the NIW application. Highlighting the applicant’s achievements, career advancement, and success in their field can demonstrate their extensive expertise and potential for continued success in the U.S. 

Such evidence can help establish the candidate as a national benefit and an ideal candidate for the NIW. Overall, emphasizing the candidate’s work experience can bolster their case and improve their chances of obtaining the National Interest Waiver.

Letters of recognition from supervisors, clients, colleagues, and other professional contacts can be vital in demonstrating that the foreign national played a significant role and has the potential for continued success in their professional career in the United States.

These letters should emphasize the applicant’s past achievements, such as specific projects they have worked on, complex challenges they have overcome, and innovative products, strategies, or processes they have developed. By highlighting the applicant’s contributions, the letters can establish their expertise, skills, and knowledge and demonstrate how the foreign national can bring value to their proposed endeavor in the U.S.

These letters of recognition should be written by reputable individuals in the candidate’s field who are well-versed in the applicant’s work and can provide an informed and objective opinion. Overall, letters of recognition can be a powerful tool in persuading the USCIS of the applicant’s exceptional ability and suitability for the NIW.

NIW petitioners are not obligated to prove that their proposed endeavor in the U.S. will necessarily be successful but rather demonstrate that they have the capability and potential to make it successful should the opportunity arise. 

3. It would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and labor certification.

The third and final criterion in the National Interest Waiver requirements involves evaluating the potential overall benefits of granting the waiver to the foreign national, weighing them against the absence of the labor certification review process. The labor certification process is designed to protect the U.S. workforce by ensuring that there are no qualified U.S. workers available to fill a job before an employer can hire a foreign worker. 

To meet this criterion, NIW applicants must provide a comprehensive argument that combines the evidence and arguments presented in the first two requirements. They need to demonstrate that their proposed endeavor has national importance and fills a position of need in the United States. They must also show they have the skills, experience, and qualifications to contribute significantly to their field and advance the national interest.

To successfully obtain a National Interest Waiver, it is crucial to present a comprehensive and compelling argument demonstrating the unique value and contribution the foreign national can bring to the United States. This requires a holistic approach to the candidate and their proposed endeavor, using data and expert testimonials to highlight the applicant’s skills, accomplishments, and potential.

The argument should demonstrate that the candidate’s skills are not only valuable but also unique and necessary in the United States. By emphasizing the critical role that the candidate can play in advancing an area of national interest, the argument should show that denying or delaying their entry into the U.S. would be a missed opportunity for the country to improve in that area.

Second Preference Employment-Based Visa – EB-2 NIW Requirements

To qualify for the National Interest Waiver (NIW), you must first meet the eligibility requirements of the EB-2 visa, which has two subcategories: advanced degree and exceptional ability.

Applying for EB-2 NIW

Once the eligibility requirements are met, the foreign national may file Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker), along with evidence of their qualifications and a letter of recommendation from a recognized expert in your field attesting to the benefits of allowing you into the country. 

It is also essential to include supporting documents demonstrating how you meet the NIW requirements. Once all materials have been submitted and reviewed by USCIS, they will decide whether or not to grant the waiver.

To apply for a green card, it’s essential to keep track of your priority date, which can be found in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. The priority date is determined by the date your I-140 petition was submitted.

The U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin lists priority dates for different visa categories and countries of birth. Once the priority date becomes “current” (meaning it has reached the cutoff date listed in the Visa Bulletin), the applicant is eligible to apply for an adjustment of status, which is the process of changing your immigration status to that of a green card holder.

EB-2 NIW Filing Fees

To apply for the NIW, the applicant must pay a fee of $700 to file Form I-140. After the I-140 is approved, the following steps will depend on the applicant’s location.

Applicants already living in the United States must pay additional fees for Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status). They will also need to cover the cost of a medical exam, ranging from $300 to $400, and an $85 fee for their biometrics to be taken.

On the other hand, if the applicant currently resides abroad, they will need to go through consular processing and pay a fee of $345 for consular processing of employment-based green cards.

Premium processing is available for EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) petitions, meaning the I-140 application will be adjudicated within 45 days. In order to take advantage of this service, you must file Form I-907 and pay a $2500 fee.


The main objective for a petitioner applying for EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) is to make a convincing case that they are treasured and have a proven track record of success. The petitioner must also demonstrate that it’s in the best interest of the United States to waive the labor certification process, which can be time-consuming and involve various requirements and delays.

One way to strengthen an NIW petition is by providing a detailed expert testimonial from someone with authority within the petitioner’s field of work. This can provide evidence of the candidate’s expertise and contributions to their field and strengthen the argument that their qualifications satisfy the National Interest Waiver requirements. Therefore, the NIW must be granted.

To assist clients in obtaining EB-2 NIW in the most efficient way possible. PassRight offers a team of dedicated experts prepared to provide assistance and guidance throughout the application process, crafting a solid case that has led 97% of our clients to reach a positive outcome.

If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us.


  • What is the EB-2 Visa Classification?

    The EB-2 visa is for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities. It has three categories: Advanced Degree, Exceptional Ability, and National Interest Waiver (NIW). For the first two categories, a labor certification is typically required, but for the NIW category, it’s not needed. To qualify for an NIW, the foreign national must establish that their work meets the EB-2 NIW standard and that the proposed endeavor would greatly benefit the United States.
  • What is an Employment-Based Second Preference National Interest Waiver?

    The EB-2 NIW is a way to gain lawful residency in the United States by demonstrating that your professional skills and work will benefit society. Unlike the other subcategories of the EB-2 visa, the NIW does not require a PERM or an official job offer from an employer. As a result, you can self-petition for the EB-2 NIW without the risk of losing your green card in case of a change of employment. To obtain this type of green card, it is necessary to present a compelling argument for why your work deserves a waiver.
  • What’s the burden of proof for national interest waiver petitions?

    Petitioners must provide evidence of their exceptional ability in their field or hold an advanced degree equivalent to a Master’s degree or higher. In addition, to determine whether a foreign national qualifies for the waiver, the NIW petitions need to establish that the proposed endeavor has national importance and consists of substantial merit, the foreign national must be well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, and that would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive the labor certification and job offer requirements.
  • What are the benefits of applying for EB-2 NIW?

    This process does not require a job offer or a labor certification; it can be self-petitioned.
  • Is the priority date important to consider when applying for EB-2 NIW?

    Yes, the U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin lists priority dates for different visa categories and countries of birth. Once the priority date becomes “current” (meaning it has reached the cutoff date listed in the Visa Bulletin), the applicant is eligible to apply for an adjustment of status, which is the process of changing your immigration status to that of a lawful permanent resident or green card holder.