The United States offers a type of green card that professionals within certain fields can apply for. This is called NIW or National Interest Waiver, and it is an employee-based visa that you can apply to go and live in the US.
NIW offers a direct path to citizenship, but not everyone can obtain it. If you’re interested in obtaining such a visa, then make sure to continue reading as we will explain to you what it is, how you can apply for it, and how long does it take to get approved.
What is the EB-2 National Interest Waiver?
Certain individuals that possess exceptional abilities can obtain the EB-2 NIW. The United States values people with exceptional abilities in science, business, medicine, art, and athletics. Only those with advanced degrees can apply for an NIW green card. This visa will grant you a workplace at US-based companies and a path to full citizenship.
The way the EB-2 works is very simple. You get a job and the employer is effectively your sponsor. What this means is that your employer goes through the Labor Certification process and is mean to assist you towards your path to full citizenship.
However, there is a way to bypass the Labor Certification process and that is by getting EB-2 NIW. With this, you don’t need an employer to sponsor you and don’t need a job to qualify for it.
The NIW is effectively a waiver visa that makes the process much simpler. To qualify for an EB-2 NIW, you need the following:
- Advanced degree (masters or bachelors)
- At least 5 years of working experience
- Exceptional Ability
You can possess the exceptional ability and not require an advanced degree but to do that, a few criteria have to be met such as:
- You must be highly sought-after by the US and show great promise in your field of work
- The proposed endeavor is of high national interest
- Or if the US values you and thus looks to waiver the Labor Certification requirements
How Long Does It Take To Get NIW Approved?
The million-dollar question and one that thousands of people seek the answer for is how long does it take to get approved?
Statistics are pretty consistent when it comes to determining how long it takes. There are rarely any approvals that diverge from the average waiting time.
In most cases, you could expect anything from 8.5 months to even 14. This depends on a couple of factors.
For example, it depends on where your application is reviewed. Two centers in the United States deal with EB-2 NIW visas. Those are the Nebraska and Texas centers. The Nebraska center has somewhat shorter approval times (8.5 months to 11.5 months). The Texas center, on the other hand, is different. There, you could expect anything from 10 to 14 months to get approved.
This makes a huge difference for certain individuals, and this a huge difference in processing times from the past year. In 2023, the average EB-2 NIW applications had to wait was 6 months.
We’re seeing an increase in processing times due to other factors. For starters, the pandemic plays a huge role as the workload is increased while the workforce decreases. The person that handles the case also plays a huge role in determining how long it takes to get approved. If the Service Center has more cases, then you can also expect it to take longer than normal.
But mostly, it depends on the complexity of the case. Namely, each application is different and those that seem more impressive get approved sooner. If you do want to get approved sooner, then it’s important to know how to do that. There are plenty of guides out there that help applicants and explain the whole process. If you want to know more about that, then make sure to visit Visa2us.com.
How to Meet the Requirements
Now, let’s explain the requirements needed to get approved for an EB-2 waiver.
The first requirement is to prove that your purposed endeavor is of great national interest. We mentioned earlier that the fields that mostly get approved for NIW are science, business, medicine, arts, and athletics. These areas are highly valued and can get you approved on their own. But you should understand that this doesn’t mean your application will be approved even if you’re excellent in one of these fields.
The second requirement states that you must show the US that you will further advance in your respected field. This doesn’t mean you will do so, but you do this to show that you do indeed have a plan to do so. The second requirement also takes into account your educational background, skills, experience, and more.
The last requirement is probably the one that decides the outcome the most. The last requirement simply means that you must show how the US will benefit from you. Simply said, you must convince them that you are worthy of an NIW.
What You’ll Need To Apply
Now that you’re somewhat familiar with the process and requirements, let’s explain the things you’ll need in order to apply for an NIW. For starters, it is advised that you consult with an NIW attorney as they are up to date with developments and will know exactly what you need to get the process started.
Apart from the standard I-140 form, which can cost $700, you’ll also need to get an EB-2 NIW letter drafted by an attorney. This is why it’s important that you always go with one.
Other things you’ll need include letters of recommendation, affidavits from leaders in your fields, proof of 5+ years of experience in your respected field, proof of past achievements, a resume, and any proof of any citations.
Once you have all these documents, you will need to file them at once otherwise your request will not be reviewed. We mentioned that review times vary but sometimes you can expect to wait up to 14 months. That’s why you should do a good job of nailing this part.