A Comprehensive Guide to NIW Recommendation Letters


NIW recommendation letters are one of the critical elements of the NIW petition that can greatly influence your chances of success. Read on for our tips and tricks on curating effective recommendation letters to ensure a strong case.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is typically used in EB-2 visa applications. The EB-2 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa for those with exceptional ability or an advanced degree in their field (arts, sciences, or business). This visa leads to permanent residency or a green card, thus allowing you to live and work in the U.S. permanently.

The NIW’s purpose is to forgo the often laborious process of securing a PERM labor certification and, by extension, the job offer requirement of most employment-based visa categories. Securing an NIW proves that there is a lack of available U.S. workers for your specialized job. In addition, it demonstrates that you will bring significant benefits to the United States.

Thus, by applying for an NIW, you are requesting the USCIS waive the labor certification and job offer requirements, allowing you to self-petition or file Form I-140 on your own rather than having a U.S. employer sponsor your petition. This grants you freedom in choosing where to work. You can also invest in your own business.

However, before securing an NIW, you must first meet the EB-2 requirements. Read our comprehensive EB-2 visa guide for more information on this.

Assuming you have met the EB-2 visa requirements, you now need also to meet the NIW’s three-prong test:

  1. Your proposed endeavor must have substantial merit and national importance.

  2. You must be well-positioned to advance your proposed endeavor.

  3. You must demonstrate that it would benefit the U.S. to waive the PERM labor certification and U.S. job offer requirements.

Purpose of NIW Recommendation Letters

Strong NIW recommendation letters can attest to your significant contributions to your field. These recommendation letters bridge your contributions to your field or achievements and the USCIS adjudicator. Remember, the USCIS adjudicator will likely not be an expert in your field, and this is why including a couple of strong recommendation letters can help convince them of the significance of your proposed endeavor.

These NIW recommendation letters serve their purpose to advocate for your abilities and affirm your potential to impact the United States on a national level positively. They allow other experts in your field and persons with authority to vouch for your work’s significance, which helps your case.

These letters can help you demonstrate:

  • The relevance of your work compared to others in your field

  • The importance of your contributions to your field

  • Support for waiving the labor certification requirement

  • The recognition your work has garnered

  • Evidence of progress in your career and how well-positioned you are to advance further

  • Evidence of your experience and high salary

  • How your work can impact the U.S. on a national level

Tips and Tricks

Ensure your NIW application is supported by strong NIW recommendation letters by considering these tips:

  • Select the right individuals

It is a critical decision to choose your strongest supporters. Ideally, your advocates should be distinguished experts who can objectively and objectively evaluate your contributions to your field. You can enlist the help of your professors, mentors, peers or colleagues, and other industry leaders who are familiar with your work.

We also recommend that you diversify your pool of advocates to reduce the risk of inner-circle bias, wherein all your recommendations come from within your inner circle, as their opinions would weigh less due to the possibility of providing subjective evaluations. This diversity would add a layer of authenticity and credibility to your case. Secure recommendation letters from higher authorities, including government officials and agencies, as they are more likely to be trusted by the USCIS adjudicator.

  • Quantify impact and highlight tangible achievements

We recommend using NIW recommendation letters that quantify the impact of your work whenever possible. This can be done using metrics, statistics, and other measurable methods. Using data to illustrate the significance and impact of your work is far more convincing than simple words of praise, as these count as objective data and not just personal opinions.

Ensure the NIW recommendation letters highlight your tangible achievements by giving concrete examples of your contributions. E.g., the innovation your project or research project has fostered or the positive impact your work has had in your field, communities, or the nation.

  • Form a clear narrative

Ensure you communicate the narrative you want your NIW recommendation letters to convey. Your advocates should be aware of how their letters would fit into the context of your NIW petition. Thus, when you request them to write a letter for you, we recommend clarifying your goals, achievements, and the impact you aim to highlight.

  • Address the NIW criteria

Ensure that each recommendation letter touches on the NIW’s key criteria by emphasizing your exceptional abilities and achievements and highlighting how your presence could benefit the U.S. nationally.

  • Avoid empty compliments and plain letters

Remember that it is not about the quantity. A couple of strong NIW recommendation letters are better than a hundred superficial ones. Avoid including letters that are superficial in your petition. Empty compliments with no backing will only raise questions and hurt your chances of approval.

How Immigration Business Plan can help?

Our expert team of experienced immigration attorneys and technical writers offer tried and tested techniques to ensure your NIW petition’s success.

We can guide you through the requirements, recommend appropriate evidence, select strong NIW recommendation letters, and offer advice based on your circumstances.

Contact us for a free consultation.

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