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Immigration Law Service

Attorneys & Counselors

A. What is an NIW?

The “NIW (National Interest Waiver)” is a system by which professionals such as doctors, professors, business managers and engineers with distinguished ability in their fields can obtain U.S. Permanent Residency independently without a job offer or investment in the U.S. 


An NIW has numerous advantages over other categories of U.S. Permanent Residency. Since it does not require a specific job offer in the U.S., it is a very appropriate option for people with distinguished backgrounds such as postgraduate students, professors, doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs who desire to move to the U.S. in the near future but have not secured employment yet.  A large number of professionals obtain U.S. Permanent Residency through an NIW before they start to search for jobs in the U.S. as most U.S. employers prefer candidates with U.S. Permanent Residency or citizenship.


To receive an NIW approval, you must show sufficient ability and achievements to contribute to the “national interest” of the United States.


Our attorneys have extensive experience in having processed over 1,000 NIW cases of a wide range of career backgrounds including academic researchers, engineers, business managers, athletes, artists, photographers and cooks.  


For researchers and engineers, our attorneys and staff are scientifically literate, including having degrees in chemistry and engineering, which helps us understand and communicate the specifics of your research and contributions to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).  For artists and athletes, our experience with similar cases helps provide tailored guidance on evidence that will shape a compelling career narrative that maximizes your chances for approval. 

B. Usual Applicants of the NIW


▷ Recent graduates of Master’s or Ph.D. degrees

▷ Medical doctors

▷ Engineers

▷ University professors

▷ Business managers

▷ Other professionals with advanced academic backgrounds

C. Maintaining U.S. Permanent Residency while being in your home country


After obtaining U.S. Permanent Residency, there are several ways to stay and work in your home country that the U.S. immigration laws allow for, such as obtaining a “re-entry permit” and various other ways. We can give you more detailed information regarding this that will be specific to your individual situation by personal consultation.


D. Requirements


The minimum academic requirement for obtaining an NIW is an“advanced degree (postgraduate degree)”. You are usually required to have at least a master’s degree to be eligible to apply for an NIW. However, if you do not have a master’s degree but hold a bachelor’s degree and 5 years of work experience, it will be treated as an equivalent to a Master’s degree and make you eligible to apply for an NIW.


However, if you do not satisfy any of the above requirements (possess neither a master’s degree nor a bachelor’s degree and 5 years of work experience), you will still be eligible to apply for an NIW, if you can show some “exceptional ability” over most other professionals in your field.


After satisfying these minimum academic requirements, you must also satisfy the following 3 requirements:


1. That the applicant’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;


2. That the applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and


3. That, on balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus a labor certification.



The “substantial merit and national importance” requirement under No. 1 above means that your works can bring a certain kind of benefit to the United States in a nationwide scope. This means that your work products must be able to benefit the U.S. as a whole, not merely to a particular limited area. For example,medical doctors can prove a“nationwide benefit” for the United States by showing that their research findings are related to the reduction of disease and disorders suffered by patients in most parts of the United States (e.g.,influenza, cancer, HIV, etc.). Also, for an engineer,it can be shown that the new technologies they develop can benefit people in all areas of the U.S. (e.g., robotics, environmental protection, energy development, etc.).


The “well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor” requirement under No. 2 above means that the applicant has an ability to bring such a benefit to the United States. To prove this, the NIW examiners usually require evidence of the applicant having conferred a significant benefit to many other experts, institutions and corporations in her/his field. For example, if the applicant can show that her/his publications have been heavily cited in the publications of other scholars, or that her/his research findings have significantly contributed to the policy development of major national institutions or increased the revenue of some major national corporations, these will usually satisfy the requirement.


The following cases have been regarded as satisfying all the serequire ments and approved, and are now being used as basic standards for approving NIW petitions:


1. Contribution to the development of the U.S. science technology


2. Economic benefit to the United States


3. Contribution to welfare and medicine in the United States

E. Application Procedures


The procedures for obtaining U.S. Permanent Residency through an NIW can largely be divided into the following steps:


1. Assessment of Achievements:


Assessment of whether the applicant possesses the ability and achievements to contribute to the national interest of the United States (application filed with a form called “I-140”; usually takes about 4 to 6 months, and is processed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service).


2. Background Check:


(1) After the applicant passes the initial assessment, he/she will undergo a background check of their criminal record, their compliance with U.S. immigration laws and a check for the existence of transmissible diseases.This is all processed by the National Visa Center in the U.S., if the applicant is outside the U.S. or by the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services,if the applicant is in the U.S.


(2) If the applicant is outside the U.S., he/she will have an interview at the U.S. Consulate General in his/her home country as the final stage of his/her application. After passing the interview, the applicant will receive status as a U.S. Permanent Resident at the airport when he/she enters the U.S.

3. Contribution to welfare and medicine in the United States

F. Approved Cases


For detailed information regarding the approved cases in each field of specialty, please click on each of the following links for each field of specialty:


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