National Interest Waiver

Google Scholar Profile with more than 10 citations? Take our free assessment at the bottom of this page to see if you are eligible for this EB-2 self sponsored green card.

What is the National Interest Waiver (NIW)?

A foreign national may apply for permanent residence status (Green Card) and seek a waiver of the offer of employment by establishing that his (her) admission to permanent residence would be in the National Interest.

There is no rule or statutory standard as to what will qualify an alien for a National Interest Waiver, according to USCIS. USCIS considers each case on an individual basis.

The procedure is to file the case with evidence to establish that the your admission to the United States for Permanent Residence would be in the national interest.

Benefits of the National Interest Waiver:

No Labor Certification required: A big plus since PERM petitions are taking up to 24 months for certification.

You may self-sponsor your petition.

Who Qualifies for the National Interest Waiver?

The beneficiary of a National Interest Waiver petition must qualify as either an “Advanced Degree Professional” or an “Alien of Exceptional Ability“.

Advanced Degree Professional:

To qualify for the National Interest Waiver under the Advanced Degree Professional category, the applicant must possess an advanced degree (Master’s Degree, MD or PhD) or its foreign equivalent (we recommend using Trustforte for academic evaluations of foreign degrees).

A Bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive work experience in a professional occupation also satisfies the qualification requirement of an advanced degree.

Alien of Exceptional Ability:

To qualify for the National Interest Waiver under the Alien of Exceptional Ability category, the applicant must demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, through at least three of the following:

  • An official academic record showing that the alien has 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 letter(s) from current or former employer(s) showing that the alien has at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation for which he or she is being sought;
  • A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
  • Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary, or other remuneration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability;
  • Evidence of membership in professional associations; and/or
  • Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations.

Postdoctoral Researchers:

The majority of National Interest Waiver petitions are filed by Postdoctoral Researchers. The following is a summary of the most important evidence to submit:

  • Letters of Recommendation.
  • Peer Reviewed Publications.
  • Cited Publications.
  • Conference Presentations.

Matter of Dhanasar:

The current criteria for a National Interest Waiver is from Matter of Dhanasar.

In the Dhanasar case, the court held that the following three criteria must be met:

  1. The foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit, and the benefits are national in scope,
  2. The foreign national is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and
  3. On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.

Substantial Merit under Matter of Dhanasar

In Matter of Dhanasar the AAO recognized that the prior interpretation of the National Interest Waiver (NIW) test was not useful in determining whether someone’s work has substantial merit and national importance, recognizing that pure science and research offer far reaching benefits to the U.S.

It acknowledged that evidence that the endeavor has the potential to create a significant impact may be favorable but is not required, as an endeavor’s merit may be established without immediate or quantifiable economic impact.

This substantial merit interpretation is particularly helpful as demonstrating that an applicant’s work had already had an “impact” in the field proved elusive for many.

The AAO further clarified that the endeavor’s substantial merit may be shown in a variety of fields, including in business, entrepreneurialism, science, technology, health, culture or education.

It is possible to establish an endeavor’s substantial merit without a demonstration of immediate or quantifiable economic impact, although such evidence would be favorable.  

The AAO provided examples of substantial merit endeavors related to research, pure science, and the furtherance of human knowledge which may qualify whether or not the potential accomplishments in those fields are likely to translate into economic benefits for the United States.

National Importance under Matter of Dhanasar

The National Interest Waiver applicant must show that their proposed endeavor has “national importance,” which may include local or regional endeavors.   

An endeavor that has significant potential impact to employ U.S. workers or has other substantial positive economic effects, particularly in an economically depressed area, may have national importance.

To determine whether the proposed endeavor has national importance, the AAO stated that it considers its potential prospective impact.

An endeavor may have national importance, for example, because it has national or even global implications within a particular field, such as those resulting from certain improved manufacturing processes or medical advances.

“But we do not evaluate prospective impact solely in geographic terms. Instead, we look for broader implications. Even ventures and undertakings that have as their focus one geographic area of the United States may properly be considered to have national importance,” the AAO noted.

“In modifying this prong to assess ‘national importance’ rather than ‘national in scope,’ as used in NYSDOT, we seek to avoid overemphasis on the geographic breadth of the endeavor.

An endeavor that has significant potential to employ U.S. workers or has other substantial positive economic effects, particularly in an economically depressed area, for instance, may well be understood to have national importance.”

Well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor under the Matter of Dhanasar:

In making a determination regarding if the National Interest Waiver applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, adjudicators will consider the applicant’s:



Knowledge and record of success in related or similar efforts;

A model or plan for future activities;

Any progress toward achieving the proposed endeavor; and

The interest of potential customers, users, investors, or other relevant entities or individuals.

Adjudicators may consider any other relevant factors related to the foreign national’s ability and qualifications to advance the proposed endeavor.

The AAO notes that USCIS does not require that petitioners demonstrate that the endeavors “are more likely than not to ultimately succeed.” Insteads the petitioner is only required to establish that the foreign national is “well positioned” to advance the endeavor. In phrasing it in this manner, the AAO recognizes that even well-planned endeavors may ultimately fail, and that the emphasis should be on the qualifications of the foreign national to make an endeavor potentially successful.

From the AAO Matter of Dhanasar National Interest Waiver Decision:

“To determine whether he or she is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, we consider factors including, but not limited to: the individual’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.

“We recognize that forecasting feasibility or future success may present challenges to petitioners and USCIS officers, and that many innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors may ultimately fail, in whole or in part, despite an intelligent plan and competent execution. We do not, therefore, require petitioners to demonstrate that their endeavors are more likely than not to ultimately succeed. But notwithstanding this inherent uncertainty, in order to merit a national interest waiver, petitioners must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.”

Just stating that you intend to continue working in your field is likely not enough. And although you may not require a job offer in your field you will need to present a plan to continue your work in your field (collaborations for example). Past successes can be used to ensure that you will be able to continue to succeed in your area of expertise. You do not have to show substantial success in the past, just a record of success.

It’s worth noting that in Matter of Dhanasar USCIS does not appear to put heavy emphasis on one’s influence by using publications or citations as the primary factor. Instead they highlighted evidence such as notable funding, awards, media reports and membership, similar to the criteria for EB2-NIW under Exceptional Ability*.

Tips on preparing your National Interest Waiver (NIW) Petition:

Those seeking qualification for a waiver of labor certification based on services considered in the national interest must make a showing significantly above that to prove prospective national benefit required of all aliens seeking qualification as exceptional.

The National Interest Waiver applies only to those who will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural or educational interests or welfare of the United States.

National interest waiver cases require that the emphasis rest with the overall value and potential of the beneficiary’s individual contribution to the U.S. (not the fact that you are working in a field of high national interest.)

You may qualify by being found to be a key or critical member of a team if it can be shown that the team function would be severely impaired without you. Merely working in an area of national interest does not necessitate a finding of national interest qualification.

USCIS recommends the submission of quality testimonial letters from substantial, recognized national or international organizations/institutes/ government agencies with the expertise to definitely say that the work or contribution of the individual truly is in the national interest.

The authors of these third-party testimonial letters should clearly state how they came to be familiar with your work. A testimonial letter will often carry more weight if the author is not a personal friend of the applicant.

USCIS officers look for realistic evidence of substantial prospective benefit to a national interest item or agenda which specifically sets the alien apart from peers in the field.

National Interest Waiver (NIW) USCIS Processing Time:

Current NIW USCIS processing time is approximately 3 to 12 months. There is currently no premium processing option for National Interest Waiver cases.

USCIS Service Center Notes:

NIW petitions filed by mail are adjudicated at  the Nebraska Service Center.

E-filed I-140 petitions are adjudicated at the Texas Service Center.

Supporting documentation for the National Interest Waiver petition (Advanced Degree Professional):

  • Copy of Advanced Degree and University Transcripts.
  • Cover Letter explaining the applicant’s achievements and benefit to the national interest.
  • Letters of support from peers.
  • Publications
  • List of Citations
  • National and/or International awards
  • Memberships in industry or research organizations (only if membership is restrictive).
  • Invitations to judge or review the work of peers
  • Speaking Invitations
  • Presentations at national and international conferences and/or seminars
  • List and description of Patents (or patents pending)
  • Media coverage (if applicable)

Do I need to submit all of my University Degrees and University Transcripts?

Although the USCIS officer is likely to only be interested in your PhD, it is wise to include copies of your Bachelor and Master degree diplomas and transcripts.

How many publications will I need for my National Interest Waiver case?

USCIS does not specify a minimum number of publications required, as a general rule we recommend at least 5.

How many citations will I need for my National Interest Waiver case?

Again, USCIS does not specify a minimum number of publications required, however citations are strongly weighted so the more you have the stronger your case will be. Google Scholar tracks citations to your publications.

What should I include in my National Interest Waiver Cover Letter?

The applicant must establish that their past record justifies future benefit to the national interest.

In other words the applicant must demonstrate specific prior achievements which establish the his or her ability to benefit the national interest.

Keep in mind that the USCIS officer is not likely to be well versed in the scientific and technical terms that you use on a daily basis.

The first few paragraphs should explain your work and your contribution in laymen terms.

If the USCIS officer cannot understand what it is that you do, it is may be difficult for them to approve your petition without issuing an RFE (Request for Additional Evidence).

How many Recommendation Testimonial Letters do I need for my National Interest Waiver case?

There is no minimum number of letters required by USCIS.

In general we recommend at least 5 strong letters.

How to write a National Interest Waiver Recommendation Testimonial Letter

The purpose of the National Interest Waiver Letter is to convince the USCIS adjudicator that you meet the requirements for the National Interest Waiver I-140 petiiton.

First Paragraph

• The USCIS Officer is likely not an expert in your specific field, so you want to avoid overly technical language that he/she may not understand,

• It is important to state your case in laymen terms as early in the letter as possible. You want to quantify the problem and then provide your specific contribution as a solution to the problem.

Second Paragraph

Explain how the field is of substantial intrinsic merit. This usually means involving one of the following:

• The U.S. economy.

• Wages and working conditions of U.S. Workers.

• Health of US residents

• Educational and training programs for U.S. children and underqualified workers.

• Affordable housing for young, aged, or poor U.S. residents.

• Improve the U.S. environment and lead to more productive use of the national resources.

Third Paragraph

Explain how the field is national in scope. This means providing evidence that both the problem and your contribution will not only be local or regional, but national.

Fourth Paragraph

Explain how your contribution exceeds that of your peers.

It is not enough to prove that you are involved in work that is in the national interest.

You have to prove and document that your contributions are unique or are critical, essential, not easily replaceable, and are the product of advanced levels of study or experience and highly valued.

You would include descriptions of the following accomplishments:

Evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., a major, internationally-recognized award)

Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor,

Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements as judged by recognized national or international experts,

Published material in professional or major trade publications or other major media,

Participation on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the field or an allied field,

Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field,

Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade, and citations,

Publications or other major media, display of the alien’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcase,

Evidence of performing in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation,

Evidence of a high salary or other high remuneration for services

Fifth Paragraph

Conclusion. This is a summary paragraphs 1 through 4.

You want to draft a powerful summary in laymen’s terms.

The idea is to make sure that the officer understands the severity of the problem, your unique contribution, how it will benefit Americans, and how few if any others are able to make this important contribution. Here are 3 National Interest Waiver Sample Recommendation Testimonial Letters.

If you would like a free evaluation in order to determine your chances in obtaining a National Interest Waiver EB-2 Approval, please send us your resume and google scholar citation link by completing the form below:

  • (if none write"none")
  • Please upload your Resume or C.V.

National Interest Waiver – Overview

National Interest Waiver for PhD Students

Physician National Interest Waiver in an Underserved Area

National Interest Waiver – FAQ

National Interest Waiver – Attorney Services

Substantial Intrinsic Merit – The first NIW requirement

Recent National Interest Waiver Approvals

National Interest Waiver Green Card – Step by Step Kit


Client Reviews

They handled our immigration case professionally, and got us through everything. I Highly recommend because I don’t think they’ll be this affordable for so long. Great people too!
Temi Adebayo
Temi Adebayo
19:27 10 Jun 18
Mr. John, Mr. Marc and this firm have been helping me with my immigration needs for the past 12 years. All the time, they have shown very professionalism in handling my filings with USCIS.Their level of service is unmatchable. And, moreover their services are very affordable. They always listened very patiently and answered all my questions and provided the best advice. While filing the papers, they take utmost care to make sure all the information is accurate. I strongly recommend their services.
Db Prakash
Db Prakash
03:26 03 Jun 18
John Dorer at Taylor and Associates provided great service and efficiently helped me accomplish a very challenging legal task. John Dorer's help was terrific! Great job!
Chris Marcell
Chris Marcell
13:03 28 May 18
We hired Marc and John and worked with them for nearly a year and half. They were always patient and extremely helpful at every turn of event. It was a very positive experience working with them.
Wu Jonathan
Wu Jonathan
04:21 15 May 18
Reliable, economical, impeccable work and really fast. They know their work and would ensure every line is true to your details. Will be using their services again and highly recommended!
Geet Divekar
Geet Divekar
00:04 04 May 18
It has been an absolute pleasure working with John and Marc. They have helped and assisted throughout the last 15 years with every single of my work related petition and finally my Green card. Filing petitions with USCIS can be a daunting task but Marc and John have the experience and expertise in filing and assisting employers with several Non Immigrant petitions. I have refereed several of my friends and will continue to do so. Finally, I have three words for this firm. Professional, Efficient and Affordable. The 5 star rating should speak for itself!!
Sushil Pallemoni
Sushil Pallemoni
20:32 02 Apr 18
This is a top notch Green card services Attorney, right from day one i was told correctly in detailed instruction what to do, Online Document upload and constant contact with John Dorer made it a breeze. They are strict discipline guys and expect all the communication and process to be so, so it might feel like they are rude at first, but believe me they are the best and them being strict helps in long run. Documentation to Interview dates, i had to change the address last minute and John made sure that it was done in time even though my application was already out of their office , the recalled and made a correction for me. Take their services, they are top notch in process and will make your life super simple, my MGC application was submitted on 3 Dec 17 and i had a GC in hand by March 18 , Cannot thank them enough for a every step guidance for GC. Thanks Taylor & Associates
Sanjeev Tyagi
Sanjeev Tyagi
05:13 01 Apr 18
I am very thankful to John Dorer, Marc Taylor and the TNA staff for the services provided during my Green Card process from Day 1 to finish. I couldn't ask for more. The lawyer's fee are very reasonable and affordable. They deserve a 5 -star rating and I will absolutely recommend this firm to everyone I know.
Romeo Ranera
Romeo Ranera
15:09 29 Mar 18
Absolute top notch firm for any and all immigration assistance. They assisted me in obtaining my permanent residency and through it all were right there to assist with trouble shooting and complications. Any and all questions were always answered within hours and you’re never left to feel anything less than a top priority as a client. The friendliness and professionalism with which they operate is A1 and I wouldn’t have been able to navigate the complications of USCIS without Marc and John. Highly recommend anyone seeking assistance to contact them!
Vanessa Nolan
Vanessa Nolan
21:05 21 Mar 18
I was very pleased with their professional service from the beginning to the end for my citizenship application. I am a professional working in the higher education and somewhat familiar with the immigration process. For that reason, I was thinking of applying it by myself but I found Taylor and Associates whose service fee is very affordable and worth of my time. Indeed, they found some of minor mistakes in my application, which could have delayed much longer for my application process. Luckily, they caught and fixed them immediately. Their communication was excellent. In fact, everything was very smooth. Even after I had the approval notice, they followed up with valuable advices. I strongly recommend their service if you need immigration services. Thank you Marc and John for your excellent services.
Dominic Choo
Dominic Choo
17:12 23 Dec 17
my wife and i worked with John Dorer from Marc Taylors Associates. He's services were awesome and amazing. i would recommend him to anybody applying for their permanent resident to work with them.
Seun Olanrewaju
Seun Olanrewaju
15:33 22 Dec 17
Used the services of this office for Green Card through AOS and was mainly in contact with John Dorer. I was unsure about their services at first, considering the unusually affordable cost but was pleasantly surprised by their prompt responses to all our questions and their timely preparing and handling of our documents! Will be using their services again when filing for removal of condition! Definitely recommended!
Lisa Lorentzon
Lisa Lorentzon
22:56 10 Dec 17
Marc and John helped me apply and get my green card. They are very specific about needed documents and other details. Also, they are very responsive when you have a question. I know I emailed them several times just to ask questions that I could have found answers online myself. They are very patient and professional. If you want to get great services with reasonable fees contact them!
Amin Bagheri
Amin Bagheri
11:54 12 Oct 17
My husband and I worked with John Dorer from Marc Taylor's office, and his services exceeded our expectations. He was very knowledgeable, responsive, and our Green Card process and interview from start to finish went smoothly. Thank you so much, John, for your dedication to our case and all your help. I would highly recommend USAVISANOW to all!
Sophia Nguyen
Sophia Nguyen
17:26 09 Oct 17
The best law agency I have ever worked with. Very responsive, experienced. I trusted my green process to them and it was done perfectly without and issues in minimum possible period. Thank You Very much Marc, John and others!!!
Hrach Gyulzadyan
Hrach Gyulzadyan
16:38 30 Sep 17
USVISANOW streamlined the paperwork which saved us so much time. This also reduced the stress involved in filling out the paperwork. They also are very understanding and respond very quickly to questions and emails. Jackline is now a US citizen which took less than 5 months. Thank you Mr. Taylor and your team. From Brian and Jacky.
Jackline Osero
Jackline Osero
17:32 12 Sep 17
Mark and team went above all my expectations of an 'online' service agency I went in with very low expectations to match the low cost of the service and was amazed that the experience was no different than going through an expensive attorney. They were very prompt on responses, very patient and also very knowledgeable on every facet of the application (including a follow up checklist). I would highly recommend them considering the low cost they charge and the high risk we take by doing this ourselves
First Dhalsite
First Dhalsite
22:27 01 Sep 17
I am US citizen. We hired Marc's firm for my wife's Green Card process, We are extremely happy with their services.They are one of the best service providers in the country. Price is very affordable. John is awesome. He responded to our queries on time with very useful information. We highly recommend this firm to anybody looking for affordable and the best immigration services. it was an awesome experience working with this team.
Narsimha M
Narsimha M
13:57 04 Aug 17
At first I thought I could have very well gone through the green card application process on my own and saved all lawyer fees. Its funny how some lawyers can charge in excess of 2K for this. However at Taylor and Associates the price seemed more reasonable and felt it made sense to go with one at that price. There were some doubts that arose in our mind which they cleared in a timely manner and seemed very knowledgeable in this area. Its for moments like these when having a professional around helps. While we can get busy with our lives and with laws constantly changing, I would definitely recommend them - a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Callistus Pereira
Callistus Pereira
17:51 06 Jun 17
I've had the pleasure of conducting business with this law firm for the last 10 years. They have been nothing but the best for every aspect of immigration need I had. From F1 all the way to citizenship. They're probably the most affordable, knowledgeable, and most efficient immigration law firm out there. Plus, they always provide responses to questions in a very timely manner. Trust me, other immigration law firms will cost you an arm and a leg for the same or less of a service compared to this law firm. Give them a call, check out their website. You will not regret it.
Andy Glasgow
Andy Glasgow
17:26 27 Mar 17
Because of John and his team my wife and I were able to travel back to the states, get married and have a Green Card without any headaches. John’s efforts were amazing and it shows because my wife and I didn’t have to go to the Green card interview. We had a strong enough case to receive the Green card in the mail. If you’re seeking a Lawyer that will be impartial, he’s your guy.
19:18 23 Feb 17
Marc and John Dorer worked on our case to file for AOS after our L1A was approved.Marc and John are professionals and extremely reasonable-priced. The reason they are able to cut the price is because they don't spend time consulting you or guiding you and will never get on call.All communications are email only, so if you know precisely what you want they will do all the paper-work, follow the trail and get the job done. If you are confused and need advice and consulting, they may not be the right lawyers.But since we were doing our AOS, it worked out perfectly well and they did their job extremely professionally.Would recommend them every time to get the work done.
hardik parikh
hardik parikh
01:58 08 Feb 17
Me & husband went through immigration process which thankfully was made easy with the help and services of Marc Tyler Inc. Our direct contact was John which i want to personally say Thank You ! The service provided was efficient, fast, affordable prompt answers in a timely fashion. I would recommend Marc Tyler Inc to anyone who need immigration done fast, easy, friendly & with no hidden charges.
Aleksandra Stoycheva
Aleksandra Stoycheva
15:27 26 Jan 17
I could not have asked for better service. I will definitely be coming back to get the green card process done. The fees are extremely reasonable and they stick with their clients the entire way. I had so many questions during this process, and each one of them were answered very quickly and with out most professionalism. This firm is a pleasure to work with and I highly recommend them to anyone.
bryan mowrey
bryan mowrey
06:41 25 Nov 16

Read More Client Reviews