NIW vs PERM: Which One Do I Need?

The process of filling out documents for visas is incredibly complex and can be difficult to understand. Because there are so many forms that do different things, you may be wondering what you need for your specific case. For example, the National Interest Waiver (NIW) and the PERM certification can seem like they are related, but they’re actually very different documents. If you’re unsure about what you need, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced immigration attorney about the NIW and the PERM to see which one pertains to you.

PERM Labor Certification

The PERM labor certification is issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) to allow U.S. employers to hire immigrants for permanent work in the U.S. Employers get this certification from the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration before they can apply to sponsor an immigrant for a green card.

The process can be time-consuming, because the employer must demonstrate that it actively tried to find an employee that was either a U.S. citizen or U.S.-born person before determining that the immigrant is the only one qualified to do the job. USCIS requires the employer to find U.S.-based employees first to keep employers from exploiting cheap foreign labor and to ensure American workers are not being displaced.


The National Interest Waiver, or NIW, is another method used to obtain a green card via employment. The NIW was created as a way to bypass the PERM certification’s laborious recruiting process. Immigrants can apply for an NIW to request waiver of the PERM labor certification, because their employment would be beneficial to the U.S. The government does not define which jobs would qualify under the NIW, but they generally grant NIWs to immigrants who exemplify extraordinary ability and can perform tasks considered advantageous to the country.

When submitting an NIW, be prepared to show at least two years of experience, as well as any schooling, certifications, or licensing that proves you are a qualified and talented employee.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help

Both the PERM labor certification and NIW are not easy to get, but they aren’t impossible. When preparing your applications, consider leaning on someone with extensive knowledge in these areas, such as an immigration attorney. The attorneys at Udall Shumway, PLC have helped numerous employees be granted permanent citizenship in the U.S. Let us help you, too.


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 NIW vs PERM, 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.