NIW – National Interest Waiver – NIW Green Card – PhD Green Card



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NIW - National Interest Waiver Details

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is part of the second employment-based category (EB2) for aliens of exceptional ability in sciences, arts or business and advanced degreed professionals (M.A., M.S., M.E., M.D. or Ph.D.). Ph.D. students also qualify. An alien may apply for permanent residence status (Green Card) and seek a waiver of the offer of employment by establishing that his or her admission to permanent residence would be in the national interest.

The national interest waiver is a good option for those who do not wish to wait several years for labor certification or those who do not wish to be tied to a specific employer during labor certification. The national interest waiver applicant sponsors him or herself and is not required to have a job. NIW applicants may make additional green card applications while their NIW petition is pending. Furthermore, if the NIW applicant is employed, the employer will not have knowledge of a pending NIW application.

The National Interest Waiver also applies to physicians. Physicians who agree to work full time in a designated health professional shortage area or in VA hospital and where a federal agency or State department of public health has determined that the physicians work is in the public interest for an aggregate of five years (not including time in J1 visa status) can obtain an NIW green card.

For Whom Is a NIW - National Interest Waiver Appropriate?

Foreign nationals with exceptional ability, or an advanced degree, who can show that their activities will substantially benefit the US national interest.

Foreign national physicians who agree to work full time in a health professional shortage area.

NIW - National Interest Waiver Requirements

For non-physicians, the applicant must show the following:

  • That the foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
  • That the foreign national is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor ; and
  • That, on balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.

For physicians, the applicant must show the following:

  • The physician must agree to work full-time (40 hours a week) in a clinical practice for a total of five years.
  • The clinical practice  must be located within an area that is designated as a Medically Underserved  Area (MUA), a Primary Medical Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area (MHPSA), or within a Veterans Affairs (VA) facility.
  • A physician serving in a MUA, MHPSA, or HPSA must provide  services in a medical specialty for which the area is designated.
  • A physician must accumulate the required five years of medical service within the six-year period beginning on the date the NIW is approved
USCIS Memo Relating to National Interest Waiver
March 9, 2016Matter-of-H-V-PMatter of H-V-P- clarifies that, in addition to primary care physicians, medical specialists who agree to practice in any area designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services as having a shortage of health care professionals may be eligible for the physician national interest waiver.

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