The National Interest Waiver
Other National Interest Waiver Green Card Requirements
For an entrepreneur to qualify for a NIW Green Card, they must show(by a preponderance of evidence) that:
- Their proposed business has substantial merit and national importance
- They are well positioned to advance the business enterprise
- On balance, it is beneficial to the US to waiver the labor certification process
Substantial Merit and National Importance
Before you can qualify for a National Interest Waiver, you must show that your proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance. This requirement sounds intimidating. Most people tend to think that their business venture in the US could never qualify under this prong.
Fortunately, the impact of your business does not have to be national in scope to have substantial merit and national importance. Entrepreneurs who create a positive local or regional impact can qualify for an NIW. The administrative appeals office has made this clear by stating that “even ventures and undertakings that have their focus on one geographic area of the US may properly be considered to have national importance.”
Well Positioned to Advance the Proposed Endeavor
For this prong, you have to show that you have the skills to execute on your vision. In deciding this issue, USCIS will examine your track record and education. Do you have an academic background that makes you ideally suited to advance the proposed endeavor? Have you successfully started similar businesses in the past?
If USCIS believes that you are qualified to advance the business, then you will have satisfied this requirement.
Waiving the Labor Certification Process Would be Beneficial
To satisfy this requirement, you have to show that on balance it is beneficial for the US to waive the labor certification process. Oftentimes, the argument can be made that the labor certification process is a poor fit for entrepreneurs who are trying to build an enterprise. The labor certification is designed to find minimally qualified workers. The US does not want minimally qualified entrepreneurs. We want world class entrepreneurs who are more likely to excel and create innovative companies that employ US workers. Therefore, the labor certification process is not appropriate.
After you decide that a National Interest Waiver would be a good fit, you will work with your business immigration lawyer to gathering supporting documentation. This could include the following documentation depending on your circumstances:
- Degree information
- Expert opinion letters
- Compensation that demonstrates exceptional ability
- Recognition for achievements and contributions by peers, government entities, business organizations etc.
- Grants or Patents
- A detailed description of the proposed endeavor
- A comprehensive business plan
- Copies of biographical pages from passports
- Documentation demonstrating that it is in the National Interest to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements
- A cover letter from the business immigration lawyer
- An index of exhibits
- Status documents(ie. I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, Visas, Etc.)
Completing the Forms
In addition to the supporting documentation mentioned above, the following forms are typically submitted:
- Form G-28: Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney
- Form I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
- ETA Form 750B or ETA 9089
- Form I-485: Application for Adjustment of Status(Depending on visa numbers, location and status of the applicant)
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
As long as immigrant visa numbers are immediately available, those who are in the US in valid nonimmigrant status may apply for adjustment of status using form I-485. This can be submitted concurrently with the form I-140.
Those who are outside of the US at the time of the application will typically go through consular processing before obtaining an immigrant visa. In order to estimate visa availability, you can view the latest visa bulletin.
NOTE: Nationals of China and India have a long wait under the EB2 Category. Entrepreneurs from these countries should consider other options such as the E2 Visa via Citizenship by Investment in Grenada.
Filing Fees for the National Interest Waiver
You can find filing fees by visiting the USCIS webpage for the I-140 and I-485. Currently, the filing fee for the I-140 is $700. The filing fee for the I-485 is $1140(plus an additional biometrics fee of $85).
People understandably want to know how long it will take to adjudicate an application. Unfortunately, premium processing is not available for National Interest Waiver applications. Therefore, your immigration lawyer can only guess based on the current posted processing times for the I-140 and I-485. While processing times are unpredictable, you can usually expect the process to take between 6-18 months.
Conclusion: The National Interest Waiver(NIW) for Entrepreneurs
The National Interest Waiver is a fantastic option for many entrepreneurs who want to start or expand a business in the US. The major benefits include the ability to self petition and the ability to forgo the labor certification process before a green card can be acquired. For more information, reach out to one of the many amazing business immigration lawyers that we have across the US.
Common National Interest Waiver Green Card Questions
The National Interest Waiver allows qualifying individuals to self petition for a US green card. This option is available when USCIS decides that it would be in the National Interest of the US to waive the typical job offer and labor certification process.
Yes. There are several employment based green card categories that permit an individual to self petition for a green card. These include the Eb1a, the Eb5 and the Eb2(National Interest Waiver).
Frear Law PLLC
My name is Ben Frear. I am a business immigration lawyer and the founder of Frear Law PLLC. My practice serves and celebrates inspiring immigrant entrepreneurs and other world class performers. I use modern technology that enables me to work closely with clients across the US and beyond. If you would like to learn about how my firm could help you, please feel free to reach out to me!