How to Apply for a National Interest Waiver

We frequently explore green card processes attached to employers, marriage, and investment, however, there is another opportunity for foreign nationals looking to come to America that doesn’t involve any of these things: the national interest waiver.


The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a program that was created to offer special immigration access to impressive individuals that contribute to America’s economic, cultural, educational, or overall wellbeing–aka America’s best interests. While this program is technically categorized in the USCIS Employment Based visas, it is not tied to a specific job at an American company like other employment visas. 


Applicants for this type of visa can self-apply (meaning they don’t need application support from an American employer), however, due to the complex nature of U.S. immigration and the subjective parameters for the NIW application, it is advised to hire a National Interest Waiver attorney to ensure your application is compelling and stands out to the government officials reviewing your case. 


As a general guideline, applicants must:


  • Submit the I-140 Petition for Alien Worker
  • Provide evidence that your particular skills would be beneficial for the United States
  • Have an advanced degree (Master’s or beyond) or a Bachelor’s degree with 5 years of relevant experience; or exceptional ability proven with various pieces of supporting documentation
  • Third party recognition for your abilities, professional association membership, proof of competitive salary for your talents, and a license for your profession if applicable, among other items. 


In addition to the requirements, and as the name alludes, your case needs to be appealing to the national interest of the United States. Why should the U.S. grant you residency? What can you contribute or improve? How will you bring value as a resident? These are a few things you want to convey in your application. 


There are many different initiatives that the U.S. is interested in, and an attorney can help offer insight into what USCIS is looking for in applicants.  An example of work that appeals to the national interest include: a medical researcher with graduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health whose work led to a greater adoption rate of vaccines in a population. Or, an innovator who creates a digital application that utilizes a unique algorithm to improve medical record keeping, thereby improving public health and advancing American innovation and technology. 


If you are interested in exploring U.S. citizenship through the NIW, contact our team of immigration attorneys to begin exploring your options.