What is the General Processing Time for an NIW?

There is more than one path to a United States green card, but all of them are complex and time-consuming. When you qualify for a National Interest Waiver, you can cut down part of that wait by skipping job offers from a qualified employer, labor certification approval, and petitions. How long does it take to process an NIW from start to finish? We’ll break it down here.

Skipping the Sponsor With an NIW

The EB-2 green card is designed specifically for advanced degree holders and people with exceptional abilities, and it’s the first door you need to go through before you can obtain an NIW. For most people, this includes dealing with the PERM Labor Certification Process. But those who qualify as someone of “national interest” to the US government can skip the PERM and apply for a National Interest Waiver, self-petitioning without a job offer.

To qualify, the foreign national has to prove their proposed endeavor has substantial merit and is of national importance. Common areas of approval include education, health, technology, business, science, and athletics. Petitioners must also demonstrate that their position in the industry will help make the endeavor successful and that the US will most likely benefit from waiving the job offer requirements.

Processing Times for the EB-2 NIW

Should you choose to attempt to skip the PERM and apply for self-sponsorship under an NIW, you can confidently expect a wait time of between three and nine months. This time varies depending on unpredictable factors such as the USCIS branch adjudicating your case and their current caseload, how much evidence you’ve provided (how clear of a case you’ve created), and whether more information is requested.

Recently, premium processing for NIW cases was approved. In 2023, EB-2 NIW applicants can add the extra fee to expedite their processing time to 15 calendar days. Note that this expedited time frame ensures somebody will review your application but does not guarantee approval. If you wish to apply with premium processing, file an I-907. Your immigration attorney is the best person to help you with this. They'll ensure you pay the correct fee and complete the form without mistakes.

There are a few things to pay cautious attention to before you file. First of all, premium processing is only available if you already have a pending I-140 in place. Currently, USCIS isn’t accepting premium processing for new petitions. Additionally, keep in mind that changes to premium processing as of 2023 provide USCIS with 45 days rather than 15 calendar days to adjudicate your petition.

If you’re filing without the help of legal assistance, check your forms carefully to ensure you’re using the corrected version. As of July 1, 2022, there is a new I-907 form. If you file with the old version, your form will be rejected.

Wait Times After Obtaining an NIW

Once you’ve been approved for a National Interest Waiver, it’s not yours yet. You’ll have to wait until your given priority date arrives. This is the day that USCIS receives the I-140 petition, and it is available via the monthly visa bulletin. It's provided online by the Department of State. If your priority date matches the final action date in the EB-2 for your country of origin, you’ll receive your NIW. This can get confusing and is one of the many valid reasons why most people choose to work with an immigration expert.

When your date is current, your next step is to adjust your status (if you’re in the US with a valid nonimmigrant visa status) or to go through consular processing if your visa status isn’t valid. This is a simple switch made via an I-485 form. After that is approved, which usually takes a few days, your NIW is official!

What’s Next?

Ready to apply for an EB-2 National Interest Waiver? Let Visa2US handle your case for you. This delicate and important matter requires careful balancing of the proper forms, fees, and documentation to prove you qualify as someone of national interest to the United States government. 

Should your NIW get denied, you’ll need to file a legal motion asking to reopen or reconsider it by appealing to a third party or going through an immigration attorney. This becomes a lengthy, expensive process that can be prevented by hiring Visa2US.

Our friendly professionals are available 24/7 to answer your questions and guide your decisions with informed assistance as you apply for permanent residency in the US. Don’t wait and delay your journey more. Contact us today!

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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.