How the National Interest Waiver (NIW) Works

The National Interest Waiver falls within the category of the EB-2 visa (EB meaning employment based). Within this category, you’re required to have a permanent job offer and labor certification prior to coming to the United States.

In the case of the National Interest Waiver, however, these requirements can be waived if you’re deemed to be of “national interest” to the United States. Such individuals can obtain a visa to remain lawfully in the United States without labor certification or a permanent job in advance of arrival.

National Interest Waiver Requirements

An individual who qualifies for the National Interest Waiver petition will have an “advanced degree” or a set of “exceptional abilities” in science, art, or business. This knowledge or set of abilities will therefore positively benefit the United States.

Such applications usually come with an interview, in which you’ll need to demonstrate that your proposed endeavor has substantial merit and is of the required national importance.

If a beneficiary of the National Interest Waiver has no employer, he or she is required to file a petition on behalf of themselves. A United States employer can also file a petition on behalf of an alien to help substantiate their application for a green card.

Additionally, as the beneficiary of the National Interest Waiver, you can apply for other EB category visas while waiting for the NIW to come through.

Additional Details

National Interest Waivers can take around 6 months to a year to process. Individual cases can vary considerably, and are considered on each individual’s merits in the interest of the United States. The “priority date” is the point at which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services receives your application.

It’s important to bear in mind this process can be lengthy, as it essentially waives the requirement that you be directly contributing to the US economy from the moment you set foot on US soil. Therefore, the National Interest Waiver process requires patience on the part of all applicants.

NIW applications are immensely popular among the academic community – including Ph.D. students, researchers, post-doctoral research fellows and other advanced degree professionals.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding National Interest Waiver, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at 480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.