How to Apply for the National Interest Waiver

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is part of the United States EB-2 employment-based visa petition. It’s designed for those with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities that could benefit the national interest of the US. It’s a highly sought-after visa because once the applicant is approved, they become a lawful permanent resident of the country. However, it’s not easy to qualify. Here are the details you must know before you apply for an NIW.

Understanding the EB-2 NIW Visa

The most common employment-based visa is the H-1B. However, these are limited, and unless the job offer is with a cap-exempt employer, the petitioner must go through the lottery system.

The EB-2 visa is also employment-based but is a second preference visa. Qualifications are similar to the H-1B, as the applicant must be a member of a profession requiring an advanced degree or equivalent.

One can also be someone with exceptional ability, provided they meet certain criteria. To demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, business, or arts, the applicant must have letters that document at least ten years of occupational experience, a license to practice (if applicable), evidence that current and previous salaries demonstrate the exceptional ability, membership in a professional association, and recognition for achievement from peers or other professional entities.

How to Apply for the NIW Visa

If you think you qualify for this visa, start by filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140. This is the first step, as it permits you to file on your own behalf if you don’t have a job offer and a PERM certification from a sponsor. The filing fee is a hefty $700. Still, this fee deters those who can’t afford to pay their own way in the country from applying, as financial stability, too, is a criterion for eligibility.

The next steps depend on where you’re living when you file Form I-140. If you’re in the US, you’ll file (and pay for) Form I-485 to adjust your status. Then, you’ll pay the fees to have medical and biometrics exams taken.

Outside the US, you’ll have to apply for consular visa processing, which is $345. Then, you’ll pay for the medical and biometrics exams.

Processing Times for EB-2 NIW

How long does it take from start to finish for an NIW? While processing times vary, it’s likely to be close to 1.5-2 years. Why so long?

Starting with Form I-140, the processing time averages 10-20 months. This depends on where you’re filing from, as some countries have a longer wait than others. Once you receive Form I-140 approval, a green card may not be available. Check the US Department of State’s Visa Bulletin to monitor green card availability. When that occurs, you can start the application process for a green card by submitting Form I-485. 

In the US, wait times for I-485 processing can take over two years. Consular processing abroad reduces that wait to 4-6 months.

Better estimates are available at USCIS using the dedicated processing times tool. After you submit your application, check the status of your case on the USCIS website.

What’s Next?

The main cause of delays in applications is the lack of evidence supporting your NIW request. The questions on the forms must be answered wholly and in accurate detail. But just as important are the documents you attach with your application.

Don’t take the chance of neglecting to add a crucial piece of evidence because you’re navigating the immigration system alone. Let our experts at Visa2US guide you and help you complete your application. With our assistance, your application is optimized to maximize success and reduce rejection rates. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get your National Interest Waiver processed.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.