Individuals with an advanced degree (master’s level or higher) or who have “exceptional ability” in the arts, sciences and business normally have to obtain a PERM labor certification involving a long, difficult recruiting process in order to apply for a green card. However, that process may be waived if on can show their work is in the national interest. That means establishing the following:
1. That the proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
2. That the applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and
3. That, on balance, it would be beneficial to the US to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements.
This is called a “national interest waiver” (NIW) and has become more popular in the last couple of years due to Matter of Dhanasar, 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO 2016), a court decision that made the NIW requirements much more reasonable. Aside from waiving the PERM requirements, the category also allows applicants to self-petition. It may also be a good option for individuals in the earlier part of their careers who have strong credentials (not necessarily possessing extraordinary ability now as required for an EB-1A green card) and are working towards an endeavor in the national interest. We regularly file NIWs for entrepreneurs, researchers in medical and other fields, etc.