A national interest waiver (NIW) petition is an alternative to the more common way of obtaining permanent resident status through employer sponsorship. It falls under the employment-based immigration EB-2 category. National Interest Waivers have several advantages:
- They allow applicants to waive the labor certification
- No job offer is required
- Applicants may self-petition, rather than rely on an employer to apply on their behalf
- The NIW approval process is a relatively speedy process
However, National Interest Waivers have become much more difficult to obtain since the landmark New York State Department of Transportation case of 1998. In that case, three general requirements were laid out regarding approval of NIW applications: the applicant must seek work in an area of substantial intrinsic merit, the applicant’s work must be national in scope, and the benefits of the applicant’s work must outweigh the national interest of U.S. workers currently involved in the labor certification process.
Area of Substantial Intrinsic Merit