How to Obtain Green Card through National Interest Waiver (NIW)

Learn about the eligibility of the NIW application and the recent update on the USCIS guideline of National Interest Waiver (NIW).

You don't necessarily have to rely on someone to start a new life in the U.S. I admit that obtaining a green card through marriage with a U.S. citizen or employment is one of the most common ways to settle in the new country. But as far as you know your options and play your cards right, a green card can come into your hand even if your circumstance doesn't meet one of the two options people usually choose. You can consider getting a lawful permanent residence via National Interest Waiver (NIW) by yourself. This article walks through the eligibility of the NIW application and the recent update on the USCIS guideline of National Interest Waiver (NIW). Lastly, if you have already applied for a green card and are waiting for a decision, I suggest a smart case tracker for both USCIS and NVC cases at the end.

Employment-Based Green Card through National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An employer can file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker for individuals of exceptional ability or members of the professions with an advanced degree. Normally, this process starts with the employer obtaining a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which demonstrates there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position. However, USCIS may waive the requirement of a job offer and labor certification if the proposed endeavor is in the national interest. National Interest Waiver (NIW) allows immigrants to petition for themselves without an employer for obtaining a green card. Individuals seeking a national interest waiver (NIW) must show evidence of an advanced degree or exceptional ability and must also meet the following qualifications:

  • The individual’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;

  • The individual is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; AND

  • It would be beneficial to the U. S. to waive the job offer and thus labor certification.

More information of the NIW eligibility is available here .

Updated Guideline on National Interest Waiver (NIW)

On January 21, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address national interest waivers (NIW) for advanced degree professionals or persons of exceptional ability. This update clarifies how the national interest waiver (NIW) can be used by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates and entrepreneurs.

Considerations Relating to STEM Degrees and Fields

USCIS recognizes the importance of STEM fields and degrees focused in critical and emerging technologies and other areas important to U.S. competitiveness or national security. To identify a critical and emerging technology, USCIS officers will review a list of critical and emerging technology subfields published by the National Science and Technology Council or the National Security Council. With respect to the first prong, all cases must demonstrate that a STEM endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.

With respect to the second prong, the individual’s education and skillset will be relevant to whether the individual is well-positioned to advance the endeavor. USCIS will consider an advanced degree, especially a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a STEM field tied to the proposed endeavor and related to work furthering a critical and emerging technology or other STEM areas important to U.S. competitiveness or national security. Further, even if the endeavor is in a theoretical field in STEM such as theoretical mathematics or physics, such endeavors may still further U.S. competitiveness and national security.

Considerations for Entrepreneurs

Under the new guidance, USCIS officers should consider that many entrepreneurs do not follow the traditional timeline as those in more technical fields such as STEM. As such, entrepreneur petitioners may submit the following types of evidence to establish that the endeavor has substantial merit and national importance, that the petitioner is well positioned to advance the endeavor, and that, on balance, it would be beneficial to waive the job offer and thus labor certification requirements:

  • Evidence of Ownership and Role in the U.S.-Based Entity;
  • Degrees, Certificates, Licenses, Letters of Experience;
  • Investments;
  • Incubator or Accelerator Participation;
  • Awards or Grants;
  • Intellectual Property;
  • Published Materials about the Petitioner, the Petitioner’s U.S.-Based Entity or Both;
  • Revenue Generation, Growth in Revenue, and Job Creation;
  • Letters and Other Statements from Third Parties such as relevant government entities, outside investors, or established business associations with knowledge of the research, products or services developed by the petitioner, the petitioner’s entity, or both; or the petitioner’s knowledge, skills, or experience that would advance the proposed endeavor.

The new policies are designed to make the National Interest Waiver (NIW) more broadly available to foreign nationals with STEM backgrounds who benefit the national interest of the U.S., including entrepreneurs. You can check out more details here.

How to Track USCIS and NVC Cases

Regardless of a type of a green card you apply for, you don't have to check on the USCIS or DOS website anymore in order to find your case status and predict the processing time. Lawfully came up with a ground-breaking solution to help all immigrants and non-immigrants learn what is going on with their applications. That is why Lawfully has launched USCIS Case Tracker. Since then, we have tirelessly improved its features with a firm commitment to immigration equality.

With a very small fraction of cost and time it would have taken to struggle with immigration attorneys and USCIS, give yourself 3 minutes to fill in the information about your application. BOOM! You can check your case status along with an expected processing time and compare yours with other similar cases at your fingertips. No need to check in on the USCIS website anymore. Lawfully will deliver updates on your case status in real-time. And don't miss the new feature of NVC case tracking in order to embrace visa applicants outside the U.S.

If you want to get more insights from a certain visa type, try Case Analysis Pro, and among other features, see your ranking compared to others who registered their cases so that you get a sense of where you stand.

Download Lawfully Case Tracker now and stay up to date!