The National Interest Waiver (NIW) application invites those who hold advanced degrees to apply for a special waiver and way to live and work legally in the United States without a Department of Labor (DOL) work certificate. The process forgoes having an employer file an I-140, and instead leaves this part up the self-petitioning applicant to prove their worth. The point of the NIW is for applicants to convince the USCIS that their field, specialized research, or entrepreneurial venture would be in the national interest of the United States to waive the employment offer, and instead approve the applicant for legal status in the country because not doing so would negatively affect the national interest.
As such, there are many great ways for applicants to show that they are eligible for the NIW when they file a self-petitioned I-140. These include solid and competent letters of recommendations from distinguished professors, awards and certifications or licensures, and the applicants publication record and/or citation usage by reputable journals or scholars in the same or similar field.
With all of the supplementary materials that one can include, there are also plenty of ways to make mistakes on ones NIW application. Simply put, the more information you include on your NIW application does not necessarily mean that it will be a better application. The USCIS will judge your materials on the basis of the national interest only—that is their ultimate goal. This blog will be better dedicated to understanding how some applicants who might be eligible for the NIW provide the incorrect supporting documents which ultimately lead to the rejection of their application package.
Future Prospects and Past Achievements
We can first start with the fact that your NIW application needs to have a good balance of evidence that you have already achieved some level of scholarship and prior research expertise along with aspirations for what your proposed endeavor is trying to accomplish. For example, if your NIW application is based in the field of renewable energies and you are looking to do more research on cheaper and more affordable solar panels, you might also need to include in your NIW application previous research experience for how you were able to create or bring to scale similar innovations. One without the other makes your application look unsatisfactory.
A Shortage in the Field
Secondly, your NIW application might be centered around a field or industry that is currently lacking enough professionals in order for the proposed endeavor to really take off. Some applicants might be compelled to tell the USCIS through their application that the United States needs more professionals in the field or specialization in order for innovation and the scaling of operations to take place. However, while this is important information for the field itself, it doesn’t give any substance to the actual methodology of how the applicant is going to advance the proposed endeavor. Applicants should always be focusing on the methodology (and the other scholars/colleagues who can attest to such methods) versus the development of the actual field or specialization.
Unique Skills and Additional Evidence
Finally, one other mistake that applicants have made with respect to the NIW application is that they have letters of recommendations written by colleagues who can attest to the unique skillset of the applicant, without any specific evidence. For example, it would look bad if you were working in the field of cancer research and cancer therapies and included a letter of recommendation that stated how you (the applicant) were a unique candidate for a NIW because of your skills in the lab and ability to always produce significant data. The USCIS would look at this information and wonder what was so unique about the applicant, and wonder why the recommender did not mention any specifics on the type of data the applicant is engaged with. There always needs to be consistency in the NIW application with what exactly the applicant is working on, and it should be apparent in ones resume, publications, and letters from recommenders.