EB-2 NIW Visa Processing Time and FAQ
This article guides you through the EB-2 visa category, specifically focusing on the National Interest Waiver NIW visa processing time, and some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand this immigration option better.
EB-2 Visa Overview
Before diving into the National Interest Waiver (NIW), let’s briefly touch on the EB-2 visa, for which it is often used.
The EB-2 visa category is for individuals who possess exceptional abilities or have advanced degrees in their specialty (arts, business, or sciences) and are interested in working or conducting research in the United States. It falls under the employment-based immigration preferences.
National Interest Waiver (NIW)
The National Interest Waiver (NIW) allows you to waive the PERM labor certification and job offer requirement of the EB-2 program. It demonstrates that the U.S. will benefit from waiving these requirements in your case.
In addition, it demonstrates a lack of U.S. workers available to do the job you specialize in. Thus, the NIW allows you to self-petition or file Form I-140 yourself, so you will not need a U.S. sponsor.
Firstly, you must meet the EB-2 requirements. Read our comprehensive EB-2 visa guide to prepare you. This guide will also include the documents you need.
Secondly, you must meet the three-prong test to qualify for the NIW:
Your proposed endeavor must have substantial merit and national importance. This can be demonstrated in the realm of technology, culture, business, science, health, or education.
You are well-positioned to advance your proposed endeavor. This can be affected by your relevant experiences, skills, current progress, educational background, and plan for success.
It would benefit the U.S. to waive the labor certification and job offer requirements for your case.
Here are some of the evidence you can use to support your NIW application:
Copy of your educational qualifications and resume
Memberships in organizations
Citations and peer reviews
Press or publications about you or your work
Conference presentations, workshops, and other public-speaking/talks
Patents and evidence of the commercial usage of your work
Documentation of your accomplishments or recognition
Any other evidence that sets you apart from others in your specialization
We recommend you discuss your options with your immigration attorney, as the documents you need depend on your personal circumstances.
NIW Visa Processing Time
File Form I-140
The first step is to file your Form I-140. You will typically receive a notice of receipt from the USCIS within 1-2 weeks of submitting your petition. Since you are using the NIW, you will not need a labor certification or a job offer, significantly shortening the NIW visa processing time as it is more streamlined.
The general NIW visa processing time is between 6 to 15 months. The average is around 12 months. It also depends on the USCIS’ workload, your case’s complexity, and the adjudicator assessing your application.
Alternatively, you can opt for premium processing (an additional $2,500), which will shorten the NIW visa processing time to 15-45 days. Note that this only shortens your NIW visa processing time and does not guarantee approval.
Furthermore, if you receive a request for additional evidence (RFE), you will be given 84 days to work with your attorney to provide the requested evidence.
Once your I-140 petition is approved, you can move to the next step of acquiring your green card.
Get a green card
Once your I-140 petition has been approved and your priority date is current, you have two options:
Apply for an adjustment of status within the U.S.
If you are already in the United States, you can submit a Form I-485, allowing you to adjust your status within the U.S. This NIW visa processing time can take 3 to 8 months before you receive your green card. Note that you need to remain in the U.S. at this time.
Apply through the U.S. consulate in your home country
If you are in your home country, you must undergo consular processing via the DS-260 online immigrant visa application. This NIW visa processing time will involve setting an appointment with the U.S. consulate in your home country. This process can take 4 to 12 months.
NIW: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Is NIW a green card category?
A: Yes, the EB-2 NIW leads to permanent residency or obtaining a green card. If your I-140 NIW petition is approved, you have qualified for the eligibility requirements.
After that, you still need to adjust your status if you are in the U.S. (I-485) or apply through consular processing if you are in your home country (DS-260) to obtain your green card.
Q: What qualifies as “national interest” for the NIW?
A: The concept of “national interest” can be subjective, but generally, it refers to work that benefits the United States. For instance, it can include contributions to healthcare, technology, education, or research. Your evidence should demonstrate how your work substantially and positively impacts the U.S. and its economy or citizens.
Q: What does the NIW waive?
A: The National Interest Waiver waives the PERM labor certification requirement. Subsequently, it also waives the necessity of having a U.S. job offer.
Q: Can I change jobs or employers after receiving an EB-2 NIW visa?
A: While the NIW does not require a specific job offer (since it waives this requirement), it requires you to continue working in the same field of national interest. Changing jobs or employers should not significantly impact your NIW status, but it’s essential to maintain your commitment to your field of expertise.
Q: What is an advanced degree?
A: An advanced degree is above a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. You can still qualify if you have only a bachelor’s degree, provided you have at least five years of progressive, post-baccalaureate experience in your specialty.
We recommended getting a credentials evaluation to ensure your educational qualifications are equivalent to U.S. standards.
Ready to start your NIW petition?
Our team of experienced immigration attorneys and technical writers at Immigration Business Plan is here to help. We specialize in providing tailored EB-2 NIW solutions and can help you craft a compelling case and comprehensive business plan to ensure a smooth pathway to permanent residency in the U.S.
Message us for a free consultation.