The United States government is making an effort to remove barriers to legal immigration, especially employment-based immigration by highly desirable candidates. Therefore, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has made it easier for some STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities to come to the U.S.

Most employment-based visas require a job offer from a U.S. employer. In addition, for permanent residency (green card), the employer is generally required to obtain a permanent labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. This certifies that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position and that the employment of a foreign national will not adversely affect similarly employed U.S. workers.

However, both the requirement that you have a job offer and the permanent labor certification requirement can be waived under certain circumstances – when waiving one or both are demonstrably in the interest of the United States – under the EB-2 National Interest Waiver category.

New policy guidance from earlier this year (2022) makes the process of getting a national interest waiver easier for professionals who either 1) have an advanced degree in a STEM field or 2) can demonstrate exceptional ability in a STEM field.

Once you have proven you meet one of these two criteria, the USCIS will consider three factors to determine whether to grant you a national interest waiver of the job offer and permanent labor certification requirements:

  • Your proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance
  • You are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor
  • It would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive the job offer and permanent labor certification requirements

I’m a qualifying STEM professional. How do I apply for a national interest waiver?

In order to apply for a national interest waiver, you must fill out Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, and present evidence that you qualify for the waiver and that, considering the three factors above, your endeavor is in the United States’ interest.

Getting a national interest waiver requires making an argument that you need and deserve one. Therefore, it’s crucial to work with an immigration attorney who has substantial knowledge and experience in this area.

Attorney Alison Yew is a State Bar of California certified immigration law specialist. She has years of experience helping people come to work in the U.S., including those who need national interest waivers.