National Interest Waivers

Individuals with exceptional ability or an advanced degree do not require a job offer if they can show that it would be in the national interest of the United States to do so. Like the extraordinary ability category, this classification opens up the possibility of obtaining a green card without locating a US employer and bypassing the time-consuming and rigorous labor certification process. In fact, these two petitions can be filed simultaneously to increase one’s chances.

Who can qualify?

Each applicant must successfully pass a two-prong test: 1) meet the criteria for consideration as an individual with exceptional ability or have an advanced degree; and 2) meet the “national interest” criteria set out in the precedent decision of Matter of New York State Department of Transportation.

To be considered an individual with exceptional ability, one must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

To meet the national interest criteria, one must evidence that 1) you will work in an area of “substantial intrinsic merit”; 2) the proposed impact of your work is national in scope; and 3) waiving the labor certification requirement is in the “national interests” of the U.S.

What are some of the problem issues that arise in USCIS adjudication of national interest waiver applications?

USCIS interprets the “national interest” waiver very strictly. It does not want individuals to bypass the labor certification process — a time-consuming, costly process set up to ensure that American workers have the opportunity to compete for jobs being offered to foreign nationals. Certain fields have a hard time qualifying, such as arts and athletics because they are considered to be not sufficiently vital to the national interest. Certain occupations and jobs may have only a local impact, such as teachers, counselors, and businessmen. It is difficult for those with few contacts in the United States to evidence why it would be in the national interests of the US to approve the application. USCIS does not properly appreciate the value of hired experts who provide opinions or conclusions in support of such applications. Just because an applicant will create jobs in the US does not mean that it will serve the national interest to a substantially greater degree than the work of others in the same field.

How does White and Associates assist?

We have been representing individuals applying for national interest waivers for more than twenty years. This is one of the most subjective immigration categories, where the role of the attorney cannot be overstated. Experience, knowledge, and creativity are necessary to navigate this trying category. The documentation requirements are rigorous, with typical petitions including more than 50 exhibits. We assist in strategizing; properly classifying the field; preparing recommendation letters and testimonials; interfacing with referees; contacting potential experts; arranging for education evaluations; drilling down on the critical issues; and assisting throughout the process.

Please contact us to find out how we can help you.