The National Interest Waiver (NIW) will allow you to self-petition and forgo the PERM labor certification and U.S. job offer requirement. However, it involves additional steps that can be complex depending on your specific case.
This guide endeavors to help you understand this process and discusses the NIW visa timeline you can expect from start to finish.
National Interest Waiver (NIW)
The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is typically used in EB-2 visa cases. The EB-2 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa for individuals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their specialty, which can be in the arts, sciences, or business. As it is an immigrant visa, it leads to permanent residency or obtaining a green card, allowing you to work and live permanently in the United States.
The NIW allows you to waive the PERM labor certification and, by extension, the job offer requirement of employment-based visa categories. The NIW demonstrates a lack of U.S. workers available to do the job you specialize in. It also stipulates that the United States will benefit from waiving the job offer and PERM labor certification requirements in your case. As a result, you can self-petition or file your Form I-140 yourself, forgoing the need to have a U.S. employer or sponsor.
Firstly, you must meet the EB-2 requirements. Read our comprehensive EB-2 visa guide to help prepare you.
Secondly, to qualify for the NIW, you must meet the three-prong test:
You must demonstrate that your proposed endeavor has substantial merit and national importance. You can demonstrate this in technology, business, culture, science, health, or education.
You must demonstrate that you are well-positioned to advance your proposed endeavor. Factors that impact this prong will include your relevant experiences, skills, educational background, current progress, and a plan for success.
You must demonstrate that it would benefit the United States to waive the requirement of a PERM labor certification and U.S. job offer. In other words, your case must demonstrate that waiving these requirements far outweighs the advantages of not waiving them.
EB-2 NIW Timeline and Process
The EB-2 NIW visa requires you to demonstrate that your work benefits the country’s national interest. Understanding the NIW application process and NIW visa timeline is crucial for a successful outcome.
Eligibility assessment and document preparation (1-4 months)
The first NIW visa timeline in your EB-2 NIW journey is assessing your eligibility and qualifications. This involves scrutinizing your educational background, professional experience and accomplishments, and the potential impact of your work on the United States. It is best to consult an immigration attorney to make this process easier.
You will also be collecting necessary documents to support your petition, including your academic transcripts, employment records, publication history, copies of intellectual properties (if any), and other evidence that may be necessary for your case. Remember to gather compelling letters of recommendation from professional bodies, industry experts, colleagues or peers, past employers, institutions, etc. These letters must highlight your accomplishments and emphasize the impact of your work or contributions to your field.
The NIW visa timeline for this process varies; whether it is easy to acquire certain documents depends on your circumstances and how readily available they are.
Building the case and Form I-140 submission (2-6 months)
The second step of NIW visa timeline is you will spend a considerable amount of time building your case and crafting a compelling argument to prove your endeavor’s national significance and positive impact on the United States. This step requires thorough research and meticulous documentation. It is best approached with the help of an experienced immigration attorney who can assist you in filling out your Form I-140 with accurate and complete information.
Furthermore, your immigration attorney can help ensure that strong evidence supports your petition. Generally, the timeframe for this process depends on how quickly you can provide your immigration attorney’s requested documentation.
USCIS adjudication process (6-12 months)
After submitting your Form I-140 petition, the third step of NIW visa timeline is USCIS will issue an official receipt notice acknowledging that it has received your petition. This is typically 1-2 weeks after submitting your petition.
Then, the USCIS will review your case, which can range from 6 months to 1 year, depending on several factors like the workload of the USCIS service center, the individual adjudicating officer, or your particular case’s complexity.
After reviewing your petition, the USCIS will either approve it, request additional evidence (RFE), or issue a notice of intent to deny or deny your application without an RFE or notice.
If you received an RFE, you will be asked to provide additional documentation to support specific areas of your petition. You will be notified via a letter, which gives you 84 days to work with your attorney to provide the requested evidence. Similarly, a notice of intent to deny gives you 84 days to respond with additional evidence to rebut the decision. It is best to work with your attorney to do this.
NIW Green Card Process
After your Form I-140 petition is approved, the last step for NIW visa timeline is you must wait for your priority date to be current. Once it is, you can apply for an adjustment of status via Form I-485 if you are already in the United States or go through consular processing via DS-260 if you are in your home country.
If you filed this immediately upon approval of your NIW, you can expect to receive your green card within 1 year of adjusting your status or consular processing. Note that consular processing would involve attending an interview and biometrics appointment in your home country, after which you will receive your green card after entering the U.S.
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We specialize in providing tailor-fit EB-2 NIW solutions and can help you craft a compelling case to ensure a clear pathway to permanent residency in the United States. Message us today for a free consultation.