Advanced Degree Professionals and National Interest Waiver E-21


This preference is reserved for persons who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. A labor certification and job offer is required unless the applicant can obtain a national interest waiver.

Although it appears as if the national interest waiver is the same as the first preference priority worker, in which a labor certification is not required, a NIW involves a different analysis.  It necessitates balancing the national interest in requiring a labor certification to determine whether there is a minimally qualified U.S. worker available who can do the job against the national interest in forgoing a labor certification when there is a foreign worker who has the ability to significantly improve the health, welfare or economy of the entire country. If it can be shown that the foreign worker will significantly benefit the national interest, the job offer and labor certification can be waived and the applicant can self-petition or file his own petition. As such, a foreign national who applies under this category must show that he or she will significantly improve the national interest to a greater degree than a U.S. worker with the same qualifications.

The USCIS continually raises the bar on determining whether or not a foreign national qualifies for a NIW. However, we continue to successfully obtain national interest waivers for researchers from all USCIS Service Centers. The reason we have been able to secure NIWs, when others have not, is because we carefully analyze, develop and present the foreign national’s work in a way that shows specific benefits to the U.S. national interest. We work closely with our clients to gather evidence that clearly explains why their work is unique and is considered exceptional.

Our practice specializes in obtaining national interest waivers for foreign scientists and researchers. We also have successfully obtained waivers for economists, historians and engineers. In preparing a national interest waiver, our team of legal and science experts research our client’s area of expertise and then show how his or her work has made an impact. We then establish how this will have immediate and practical benefits for the national interest. We work with authorities in our client’s field to develop expert testimony on the significance of our client’s contributions. We understand the factors that the USCIS looks for in granting national interest waivers and we also know how to identify these factors in our clients’ work.

If you believe that your work is in the national interest and want to apply for permanent residency you must be able to show that your work will contribute substantially and immediately to the national interest. For example, the work must either:

  1. Improve the U.S. economy;
  2. Improve wages and working conditions of U.S. workers;
  3. Improve educational and training programs for U.S. children and under-qualified workers;
  4. Improve the U.S. environment and lead to a more productive use of natural resources;
  5. Improve U.S. health care;
  6. Provide more affordable housing for young, aged or poor U.S, residents.