National Interest Waiver (NIW) for PhD Students, EB-2 Self Sponsored Green Card

97% of our National Interest Waiver (EB2) self-sponsored green card petitions were approved in 2023. Our attorney fee is $4,995. Submit your resume and google scholar profile link at the bottom of this for a free assessment.

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a provision under the second preference employment (EB-2) immigration category.

For employer sponsored EB-2 applications, applicants are required to have a permanent job offer from an employer, in addition to an approved labor certification.

However, with the National Interest Waiver (EB2) self-sponsored green card petitions, these criteria are bypassed in the “national interest” of the U.S., if the applicant’s work is of “substantial merit”, i.e. if it can be established that the applicant’s permanent residency would actually be in the best interests of the nation.

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are no established standards that define a “national interest”, and applications are generally judged on an individual basis. However, below are some general conditions that are perhaps regarded as being in the national interest.

1. Your work could benefit the economy.
2. Your work could improve wages/working conditions for workers.
3. Your work could contribute to national security and defense research.
4. Your work could advance healthcare.
5. You would could aid in training and educational programs for under-qualified workers.
6. You work could create affordable housing.
7. You work could improve the environment and aid in sustainable utilization of natural resources.
8. Your admission has been requested by a U.S. government agency.

NIW applications have quite a few advantages.

The most important one is that potential beneficiaries can petition on their own behalf.

Moreover, due to the waiver of the job offer and labor certification, this is a highly attractive option to researchers, PhD students, and other advanced-degree professionals.

The NIW is not limited to only professionals in the field of science. Artists, teachers, mental health professionals, and any other professionals may also qualify as long as they meet the requirements.

To obtain an NIW, applicant’s must file a Form I-140 petition and ETA Form 9089 of 750-B directly with USCIS, and submit supporting evidence that establishes petitioner’s permanent residency in the U.S. will be in the national interest.

The applicant does not have to make any filings with the Department of Labor.

In addition, in case of no visa backlog, beneficiaries can also file the I-485 adjustment of status (except individuals born in India and China), and apply for a travel document and employment authorization card, simultaneously with the I-140 petition.

This way, applicant’s can adjust their status and obtain green cards much faster than through the lengthy process of labor certification or family-based categories (other than through immediate family).

If the applicant does not possess an advanced degree they may be able to qualify under Exceptional Ability.

To establish NIW under Exceptional Ability, applicant’s must meet at least 3 of the under-mentioned 7 criteria.

1. Academic records relating to a degree, certificate, or a similar award from a university, college, school, or other educational institutions, relating to their talent in a specific field.
2. Official letters confirming a minimum of 10 years of full-time work experience in their profession.
3. A practicing license of their profession, or a certification for the same.
4. Proof that they earned a salary or benefits for services demonstrating their exceptional ability.
5. Membership of least one professional institution.
6. Recognition for their achievements, and substantial contributions within their industry or field, by their peers, government bodies, professional institutions.
7. Any other equivalent proof of eligibility.

PhD students in the U.S. on an F-1 visa will not invalidate their status by filing an I-140, even though the F-1 visa does not allow immigrant intent.

The beneficiaries can continue to stay in the country on an F-1/F-1 OPT status even after they have filed the I-140 NIW, irrespective of whether it is approved or rejected.

Despite its advantages, NIW applications are complex procedures, mainly due to the high standards required for the petitioners.

However, since Matter of Dhanasar, the U.S. Government has become more lenient in its interpretation of what constitutes a national interest.

Nonetheless, it is highly recommended that PhD students have their immigration objectives and credentials evaluated by experienced immigration attorneys, prior to application.

If you would like a free evaluation in order to determine your chances, please send us your resume and google scholar citation link by completing the form below:

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