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New Guidance on National Interest Waivers May Help Entrepreneurs and STEM Professionals Seeking Visas

New Guidance on National Interest Waivers May Help Entrepreneurs and STEM Professionals Seeking Visas

PUBLISHED ON: February 09

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released two important policy alerts in January 2022 designed to remove barriers to legal immigration for individuals with extraordinary abilities, training, or professional experience. The first update provides clarity on how national interest waivers can be obtained by entrepreneurs and professionals in STEM fields, allowing them to self-petition for a work-related visa. The second alert provides new guidance on the types of evidence USCIS officials should consider to establish “extraordinary ability” in certain fields, including many STEM fields.

While these announcements are a positive move that could help many skilled immigrants seeking job opportunities in America, the path to an employment-based visa or green card is still not a simple one. You don’t have to face this journey alone – an experienced Chicago immigration attorney can help guide you through the process.

What is a National Interest Waiver?

Normally, an employer who wishes to hire a non-citizen worker must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers and obtain a permanent labor certification to prove that no similarly qualified workers are available in the U.S. However, an individual can request a waiver for the labor certification if it is “in the national interest” to grant one. When a national interest waiver (NIW) is granted, no job offer is required, and the individual can self-petition for their visa.

STEM Professionals Could Be Eligible for a National Interest Waiver

To receive an NIW, the petitioner must be able to prove they have an advanced degree or exceptional abilities that are relevant to advancing America’s national interests. The new guidance from USCIS makes it explicitly clear that this includes certain entrepreneurs and those in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions, and many workers in these fields could now be eligible for waivers.

USCIS looks at three factors to determine if a national interest waiver is justified:

  • Does the person’s intended work have significant merit and national importance?
  • Is the individual adequately prepared to make an impact in the field?
  • How will granting the waiver be beneficial to the interests of the United States?

What is needed to meet these qualifications has not always been clear, leading to frustrating delays and denials for some foreign workers seeking a waiver. The second January policy update issued by USCIS hopes to reduce this processing issue by providing clarity on the evidence and evaluation process used to determine extraordinary ability in many STEM fields.

Support for Skilled Professionals Seeking Work in the U.S.

America’s ability to recruit and attract some of the most talented and highly trained professionals from around the globe gives our country a competitive advantage and supports innovation. The U.S. government recognizes this and has updated USCIS guidance to “promote effective and efficient processing of benefits.” And while the new guidance is a step in the right direction for many skilled workers, the reality is that issues and obstacles are still common for those wishing to obtain an immigrant visa, nonimmigrant visa, or green card.

At Sverdloff Law Group, our lawyers have dedicated their careers to helping individuals and families successfully navigate the U.S. immigration system. We understand the various immigration benefits available to workers, family members, and victims of crime or abuse, and we can help you and your loved ones find solutions to all your immigration challenges. To learn more about our services and how we may be able to assist you, contact our Chicago immigration law firm today.

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