Often, we see STEM professionals apply for work related visas such as the H-1B. While the H-1B is an incredible visa program for foreign nationals, sometimes applicants experience frustration due to the application being managed by their employers, rather than themselves. In the case that a professional foreign national wants to come to the U.S. on their own accord, applicants can look towards the National Interest Waiver (NIW) program as an alternative form of entry.
The NIW is a broad visa that covers an array of professional categories with one common criteria that must be met: the applicant must have exceptional ability in their field. One business that is booming globally is the tech industry. Thankfully, due to a desire for America to be the most competitive, innovative, and advanced, the NIW visa program is an opportunity for technology entrepreneurs and professionals to continue on an upward trajectory here in the United States.
In fact, NIW holders working in the U.S. work on diverse projects, from advanced cybersecurity techniques to computer-assisted engineering and mathematics simulation models. It should be noted that data protection and cybersecurity are main focal points for the government that are heavily desired.
Here is some basic criteria for technology professionals to keep in mind when applying:
Advanced degrees are a requirement for this visa type. While a Master’s is the baseline, a PhD is something that can set you apart as a desirable candidate.
Relevant work history
Professionals with applied skills, like software engineers, must show at least ten years of experience in that field. Data security, data science, systems architects, and other roles have the same requirement. The only flexibility in this area is if the technological position is a brand new or emerging field, in which case closely relevant (while not exact) technological experience can be submitted as relevant.
Significant (i.e. exceptional) tech, digital, or IT contributions to the U.S. Professional associations, memberships, awards, speaking opportunities, published thought leadership, being on a Board of Directors, and other forms of recognition that speak to your professional aptitude and contributions will all be considered in your petition.
As tech continues to change the way we live and work, the need for software developers, leaders, and cybersecurity experts is great. If you’re a foreign national who meets this profile and would like to move to the United States on a NIW, contact our team of attorneys today.