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September 13, 2021

Do You Qualify for the NIW Green Card? – An Employment Visa with No Employer Sponsor Needed

Are you a foreign national with advanced educational degrees like a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, or even a Ph.D.? Does your work have substantial merit and national importance to the US?

If so, you might qualify for green card eligibility under the US Employment-Based (EB) Visa program, in this case the EB-2 visa, and be eligible for the National Interest Waiver (NIW).

An NIW green card application does not need an employer sponsor and can save you substantial amounts of time and money.

The idea is simple.

The US needs highly educated and highly skilled workers. The US established special eligibility requirements under the employment-based green card program to attract foreign professionals with advanced degrees and other highly skilled workers. You will hear this referred to as the EB visas.

But in special cases where the work is of national interest to the US, it is possible to speed up the process by obtaining a National Interest Waiver so you do not need the sponsorship of your employer. Employer sponsorship has its own set of hurdles, timetables and paperwork.

Below we will go over the

  • EB Visa programs in general
  • EB-2 Visa
  • National Interest Waiver qualifications. .

The Five Employment Based Immigrant Visa Programs

There are five EB Categories, and each year, the US makes about 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas available to qualified applicants under these programs.

EB-1 – Priority Worker and Persons of Extraordinary Ability

  • Persons with extraordinary ability include scientists, artists, business professionals, athletes, and others that have sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise. They can apply without having specific job offers as long as they are going to continue work in the areas in which they have extraordinary abilities.
  • Outstanding professors and researchers with international recognition and at least three years of experience in teaching or research. These applicants are coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education.
  • Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer.

EB-2 – Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

  • Professionals holding an advanced degree. This means more than a Bachelors’ degree or a Bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience in their profession.
  • Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, meaning a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinary in their field.

EB-3 – Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)

  • Skilled workers whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years of training. (Not seasonal or temporary workers).
  • Professionalswhose jobs require at least a Bachelor’s degree from a US university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
  • Unskilled workers (Other workers) capable of filling positions that require less than two years of training. (Not seasonal or temporary workers).

EB-4 – Certain Special Immigrants

  • This particular subgroup only receives 7.1% of the available EB visas. It includes categories like certain former employees of the US in the Panama Canal Zone, certain ministers of religion, certain Iraqi or Afghani translators who worked with the US, certain retired NATO-6 civilians, and family members, certain religious workers, and more.

EB-5 – Immigrant Investor

  • Immigrant Investor visa categories are for wealthy foreign nationals who make significant and specific investments in the US.


The EB-2 Visa –without the NIW Waiver

If you have advanced degrees or a Bachelor’s degree and the required experience, the EB-2 Visa program may be your best and easiest path to a US green card and permanent US residency.

Even without the NIW waiver, the EB-2 process normally moves faster than the alternative EB-3 program.

Your Employer Needs to Get Certification for You and Your Job

In most cases, the sponsoring employer must get labor certification from the Department of Labor before the foreign national can apply for an EB-2 visa. This ensures that no jobs are being given to foreign nationals that could be filled by qualified US workers.

Your employer has specific requirements of advertising, recruiting, interviewing they need to do for the certification process. The Department of Labor requirements  and certification take time and money.

You Must Meet the EB-2 Qualifications

As stated above, there are two main requirements for the EB-2 visa.


To be eligible for an EB-2 permanent worker visa  you must show that you

  • Are a member of a profession and you have an advanced degree or its equivalent, or
  • You have an exceptional ability.

An advanced degree means you earned degrees like a Master’s, Ph.D., Juris Doctor (JD or law degree), or an MD (medicine). You can also qualify with a Bachelor’s degree along with five years of work experience in the field. Usually, this work experience must be after you obtained the Bachelor’s degree.

“Exceptional ability” means you can show your ability in the sciences, arts, or business that will significantly benefit the US economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare in the future.


The EB-2 Visa with the  NIW Waiver

No Employer Needed

With the NIW waiver you do not need a sponsoring employer. You apply and petition on behalf  of yourself. Therefore, there is no time or expense for the employer getting the DOL Labor Certification.


You Still Must Meet the EB-2 Qualifications

This is the same as above.


You Must Meet the National Interest Waiver Eligibility Test

After you meet the EB-2 requirements, you must also satisfy all three parts of the National Interest Waiver test, which are:

·      Your proposed work has both substantial merit and national importance;

·      You are well-positioned to advance your proposed work; and

·      When balancing all the factors, it would be in the national interest of the U.S. to grant you a waiver of the normal job and labor certification requirements.


Advantages of Applying for an NIW Green Card

Employer Sponsorship is Not Required. You can file an NIW Green Card application by yourself.


A Specific Offer of Employment is Not Required. You can file an NIW Green Card application even if you do not have a job offer from a U.S. employer.


Labor Certification is Not Required. Unlike most other EB green card categories, you do not need to get a Labor Certification. This definitely saves time.


Less Strict than the EB-1A. If you are considering the EB-1A ( see above ), the NIW green card application is less stringent and USCIS approval rates for are significantly higher.


What Should You Do Next?

Your advanced degrees, education, and work experience might qualify you for an EB-2 visa and possibly the National Interest Waiver.


This can be a tremendous advantage for you.


It all depends on your personal and unique circumstances.


Let us help you determine your best path forward to a green card and permanent US residency.


At ImmiVisa, we take care of the lengthy, complicated immigration process for you.


Our specialized team of immigration lawyers can help you find the easiest, least stressful, and least expensive best steps.


Whether you just want information, or you are ready get started, give us a call and learn how to take advantage of these  programs to get your green card and permanent residency.

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