One of the recommended application materials for the National Interest Waiver (NIW) is to attach conference abstracts or presentation notes. The point of attaching these documents is to show the USCIS that you have, as an exceptional applicant, been apart of some annual conference that other highly sought after professionals have also been apart of. As such, this blog will be dedicated to better understanding why you should attach these notes to your application package, but also when it might be unnecessary to do so.
Why do Conferences Matter?
You might be wondering if the conferences you have attended in the past even matter. Some of them might have felt boring or like a waste of time. If you are feeling this way and are you are an applicant, it is best to not mention or attach notes from these conferences to your NIW application.
However, some conferences can be exciting. Especially if they are annual meetings and you are a keynote speaker. If this is the case, make sure to attach your keynote speech to the application package. But also be sure that your keynote speech matters in terms of advancing the proposed endeavor. Everything in your application comes back to the fact of whether or not you will be working in a field or specialization that advances the national interest. Otherwise, you will confuse the USCIS officer who is adjudicating your case and is wondering what this speech has anything to do with the national interest or the U.S. economy more generally.
In addition, if you are a NIW applicant, you should think about conferences or other important meetings or presentations you have attended in which there were other authority figures or institutions present, and of which the meeting was meant to establish some new trend or innovation in your field. For example, you might include a concept note or overview of that conference or panel event and attach it to your application package so the USCIS officer can see that you were attending a higher level event with leaders fro your field or industry. Make sure that your name is included in the concept note as proof that you were in attendance.
Timing is Relevant
The other issue with conferences and presentations is that there is some degree of timing and relevance to take into consideration. Because most NIW applicants will be well into their careers, they need to stop and think if a conference they went to five or six years ago is relevant at all for their NIW application. Again, if they were a keynote speaker, maybe so. But they will still need to attach presentation notes which might be hard to gather.
This is why attaching conference or presentation notes that have been presented on recently within 1-2 years from the date of filing an I-140 self petition is a more attractive option for the NIW applicant. Similar to a job application, you don’t want to brag about something you did years ago, you want to shed light on recent successes that show the reviewer that you are up to date in your field or industry and that you are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor. Applicants generally don’t generally look “well positioned” if they are citing materials that are very old or out of date.
Keep it Consistent
And finally, as with all of your NIW application materials, the concept notes you attach from conferences or the keynote speeches that you provide will need to be part of the mold of your entire application. This means that if your proposed endeavor is revolving around sustainability and alternative fuel sources, it will confuse a USCIS officer if you attach a keynote speech that is simply about something over than the proposed endeavor.
You will be able to cite your professionalism on your resume, so make sure that your conference notes only have to do with the proposed endeavor.