National Interest Waivers Under the EB-2 Category

Purpose of National Interest Waivers

National interest waivers are available for persons who fall in the EB-2 category – “members of the professions holding advanced degrees or aliens of exceptional ability.” Generally, this category requires employer sponsorship and labor certification. However, the government will waive both requirements if your work is in the “national interest.”

Advantages

You can self-petition.

  • You do not have to self-petition—your employer may sign and file your application for a national interest waiver.

No labor certification requirement.

No permanent job offer requirement.

Faster and more flexible than labor certification process.

Disadvantages

Very difficult to qualify for national interest waiver.

Less predictable than labor certification process.

Persons applying for national interest waivers must fall into one these two categories:

  • Persons with exceptional ability who can show that their work is in the national interest; or
  • Doctors already in the United States that have accepted positions to practice in medically underserved areas or for the Veterans Administration.

Work in the National Interest – Category 1

Although the immigration laws do not define what kind of work is in the “national interest,” guidance from government decisions on applications for national interest waivers suggest that your work is in the national interest if:

  • You seek employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit;
  • The benefit from your work will be national in scope; and
  • The national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification was required.
  • You may be able to show your work is in the national interest if your work:
  • Improves the United States economy;
  • Improves wages and working conditions for U.S. workers;
  • Improves education and programs for U.S. children and underqualified workers;
  • Improves health care;
  • Provides more affordable housing;
  • Improves the United States environment and makes more productive use of natural resources; or
  • Is requested by an interested government agency.

Doctors – Category 2

Doctors that work in medically underserved areas or for the Veterans Administration qualify for national interest waivers.
If you are a doctor and want to apply for a national interest waiver, you must:

  • Agree to work full-time in a medically underserved area or for the Veterans Administration;
  • Submit a statement from a federal agency or state public health department that your work is in the public interest;
  • Work for a total of five years (not including any time on a J-1 visa); and
  • Complete your five years of work within six years of the date of your employment authorization or the date your Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, is approved.

If you are starting your own practice in a medically underserved area, you will have to submit a sworn statement that you will be practicing full-time in the area of clinical medicine for the required five years and describe the steps you have taken to start your practice.

If you were on a J-1 visa that allowed you to enter the United States for medical training, you will need to submit evidence that you obtained a waiver of the two-year foreign residence requirement.

Applying for a National Interest Waiver

To apply for a national interest waiver, you must file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form ETA 750B, Statement of Qualifications of Alien, and all supporting documentation.

Supporting documentation is very important in applications for national interest waivers and should include:

  • Letters from experts in your field of work or study describing the significance of your work;
  • A list of your published works;
  • Citations to your published works;
  • Evidence of conference presentations;
  • Evidence of awards and fellowships;
  • Evidence of research grants;
  • News articles highlighting your achievements; and
  • Any other evidence of your expertise and prominence in your field of work or study.

Upon approval of your Form I-140 and national interest waiver, you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. However, your adjustment of status application will not be approved until you fulfill the minimum work requirement for your national interest waiver.