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Immigration Law Services

Attorneys & Counselors

A. What is anNIW?

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 independentlywithout a job offer or investment in the U.S.  After applying for U.S. Permanent Residency by NIW, you can wait for your green card while you are in your home country, which usually takes less than 1 year.


If you obtain U.S. Permanent Residency, you will have several advantagesincluding the following:


1. Your spouse and children under the age of 21 will be able to obtain U.S. Permanent Residency together at the same time.


2. Your children (under the age of 21) will be able to attend public schools in the U.S. once they obtain U.S. Permanent Residency with you.  If you send your children to the U.S. with student visas (F-1 Visa), they are usually required to attend expensive private schools under the U.S. immigration law.  However, once they become U.S. permanent residents, they will be able to attend public schools with low fees.  They will also be able to attend U.S. universities at the same low fee rates as U.S. citizens.


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


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 distinguishedbackgrounds such as postgraduate students, professors, doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs who desire to move to the U.S. in the near futurebut have not secured employment yet.  A large number of professionals obtain U.S. Permanent Residency through anNIW 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.


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 moredetailed information regarding thisthat will be specific to your individual situationby personal consultation.


D. Requirements


The minimum academic requirement for obtaining an NIWis 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 degreeand 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 substantialmeritandnationalimportance;


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 theserequirements 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.

A. What is anNIW?
B. Usual Applicants of the NIW
C. Maintaining U.S. Permanent Residency while being in your home country
D. Requirements
E. Application Procedures:

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