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When seeking U.S. permanent residency under the EB-2 visa category, which is designed for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities, the National Interest Waiver (NIW) presents an option. This waiver essentially waives the job offer requirement and the test of the U.S. market for U.S. worker, assuming the applicant’s endeavor will significantly benefit the United States. However, the complexity and strictness of the evidence required to prove such benefit mean that many applicants fail without adequate legal guidance. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., a law firm with extensive experience in NIW petitions, has reviewed over two thousand AAO decisions and can spot common pitfalls to avoid RFEs or denials.

Understanding the NIW Criteria

The criteria for an NIW, set by the precedent case In re Dhanasar, are stringent:

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In the realm of U.S. immigration law, the National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a pathway for professionals seeking a green card without the need for a specific job offer or labor certification. However, proving that an endeavor is of “national importance” remains a difficult aspect of the NIW application process. At Zneimer & Zneimer, our extensive experience with NIW applications offers insights into what makes a successful claim of national importance, and how applicants can avoid common pitfalls.

The concept of “national importance” extends beyond the mere significance of an applicant’s work. It requires demonstrating that the proposed endeavor has substantial merit and the potential for wide-reaching impact across the United States. This includes, but is not limited to, contributions to the economy, healthcare, technology, education, or the environment.

We have analyzed over a thousand AAO decisions to determine what the USCIS is looking to determine whether the endeavor is of national importance.  Some examples can illustrate the evidence required:

  • A compelling example of national importance can be seen in the case of a neurosurgeon whose research directly contributes to advancements in stroke treatment. Despite the substantial merit of their work, the application was initially unsuccessful due to a lack of specific evidence tying the proposed research to broader national health outcomes. This highlights the importance of not just stating the merit of an endeavor but clearly connecting it to a national issue.
  • Renewable Energy Engineering: An engineer specializing in solar energy technologies developed a new, more efficient solar panel system. This endeavor was granted an NIW as it directly supports national goals for renewable energy adoption and reducing carbon emissions.
  • In the tech sector, an application succeeded by demonstrating how a software developer’s work in cybersecurity would address national security concerns, emphasizing the applicant’s unique qualifications and the specific outcomes of their work. This case underlines the effectiveness of showcasing an endeavor’s direct link to national priorities
  • A developer creating accessible educational software for underserved communities received an NIW. Their project was seen as crucial for addressing national challenges in education equality and access.
  • A researcher’s project focused on developing sustainable agriculture practices that would not only improve food security but also reduce environmental impact, received NIW due to its potential for national impact on both agriculture and environmental policies.
  • A public health professional working on innovative strategies for epidemic control, including the development of rapid testing methods, was recognized for their work’s national importance in improving public health emergency responses.
  • A scientist’s research focused on developing treatments for a rare disease was granted an NIW. The research’s potential for groundbreaking medical advancements and its alignment with national health priorities underscored its national importance

Here are several examples where USCIS found insufficient evidence of national importance:

  • A frequent issue arises when applicants provide broad statements about the importance of their field without delineating how their specific endeavor addresses a national concern. For instance, a human resources specialist claimed national importance based on general benefits of HR practices without detailing the unique impact of their work
  • Another pitfall includes failing to substantiate claims with robust evidence. An application lacked detailed information about how a nurse practitioner’s work with elderly patients would specifically influence national healthcare standards, despite the critical need in geriatric care.
  • A neurosurgeon and researcher failed to provide specific details about his proposed endeavor. Claims were broad, like intending to work in “research, industry, and academics” without elaborating on specific plans or how his work addresses a national issue .
  • A nurse practitioner failed to qualify for NIW.   Although qualified as a professional holding an advanced degree, the petitioner did not demonstrate how her work in providing patient care significantly impacts national healthcare standards or addresses national concerns beyond local community benefits .
  • A Human Resources Specialist’s proposed endeavor in human resources was deemed too general and lacking in specifics on how it would impact national employment or HR practices significantly. Broad statements about the importance of HR practices were not tied to national interests or specific outcomes .

To successfully argue national importance in an NIW application, Zneimer & Zneimer recommends the following strategies: Continue reading →

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After reviewing thousands of AAO decisions and drawing insights from their analysis, the most difficult prong to overcome for noncitizens is the national importance of the endeavor.   It is clear that understanding what constitutes “national importance” is pivotal in NIW cases. Through the analysis of appeals and the reasons for denial, we focus on the intricacies of the NIW application process for pilots.   The journey to approval is fraught with turbulence, particularly in illustrating the national importance of one’s contributions. Zneimer & Zneimer, a renowned Chicago immigration law firm, sheds light on this intricate process, offering pilots a guided navigation through the NIW application’s complexities.

At the heart of the NIW application lies the need to demonstrate that the work is of national importance. For pilots, this means transcending beyond the cockpit to impact broader national priorities such as aviation safety, innovation, or efficiency. The recent decisions in NIW cases highlight the critical nature of aligning personal endeavors with national interests, showcasing that a well-documented argument can make all the difference.

Common Pitfalls for Pilots:

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When talented professionals consider making the United States their permanent home, the National Interest Waiver (NIW) presents a unique pathway, bypassing the traditional job offer and labor certification requirements when it is in the national interest to  waive the testing of the job market for the availability of US workers. However, one pivotal question often emerges: “What is considered of national importance?” Zneimer & Zneimer, a leading Chicago immigration law firm with extensive experience in successful NIW applications, sheds light on this critical aspect.

Defining National Importance.  At its core, national importance refers to endeavors that significantly benefit the United States. This could mean contributing to the U.S. economy, healthcare, education, or technological advancement. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) looks for specific criteria:

  • Substantial Merit: The endeavor should have significant potential to create a national impact, not just within a local community or industry.
  • Broad Implications: It should address critical challenges facing the nation, offering solutions or advancements that have widespread benefits.

We analyzed thousands of AAO decisions and here are some examples which the immigration attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer found to be areas where NIW applications have successfully demonstrated national importance:

  • Technology and Innovation: Advancements in AI, cybersecurity, or renewable energy that enhance national security or environmental sustainability.
  • Healthcare: Research or practices that address public health crises, improve healthcare delivery, or combat diseases with significant public health implications.
  • Education: Initiatives that transform educational methodologies, particularly in STEM fields, addressing the national need for a skilled workforce.

Drawing from their wealth of experience, Zneimer & Zneimer points out common pitfalls:

  • Lack of Specificity: General statements about the importance of a field do not suffice. Applications must clearly articulate how the individual’s specific endeavor impacts national priorities.
  • Insufficient Evidence: Successful applications are supported by tangible evidence, such as studies, expert letters, and data, demonstrating the endeavor’s impact.

How Zneimer & Zneimer Can Help Continue reading →

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The key to a successful NIW application lies in demonstrating that the endeavor has substantial merit and national importance. The Chicago immigration attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer, analyzed over one thousand appellate decisions and identified common pitfalls that lead to the denial of NIW applications. In several blog post we will shed light on what “national importance” really means and how to position the application for success.

The term “national importance” is a threshold requirement in NIW applications but is not explicitly defined by U.S. immigration law. Analysis of appeals decisions, reveals that national importance extends beyond the potential benefits of an endeavor to how it addresses broader national challenges. Whether it is advancing technological innovation, contributing to the healthcare system, or enhancing educational methodologies, the endeavor must have significant implications that align with national priorities.

Common Pitfalls in Demonstrating National Importance

Lack of Specificity: A recurring theme in unsuccessful NIW appeals is the failure to articulate how the endeavor specifically addresses a national issue. For example, stating that a project contributes to economic growth without detailing its direct impact on national priorities is often insufficient.

Overemphasis on Personal Achievements: While personal qualifications and achievements are important, several appeals were denied because applicants did not effectively tie their personal successes to the national impact of their proposed endeavor.

Insufficient Evidence of Impact: Successful applications typically include robust evidence, such as endorsements from government entities or industry leaders, data projections, and case studies demonstrating the national significance of the endeavor. Appeals decisions often cited a lack of such evidence as a reason for denial.

Drawing from the insights of Zneimer & Zneimer’s extensive experience, here are strategies to enhance your NIW application:

  • Align With National Goals: Research current national priorities and clearly demonstrate how your endeavor aligns with these goals. Whether it is contributing to national security through cybersecurity advancements or addressing public health crises, specificity is key.
  • Quantify Your Impact: Provide concrete, quantifiable evidence of how your work will benefit the nation. This could include potential job creation, economic impact assessments, or contributions to critical research areas.
  • Leverage Expert Opinions: Seek endorsements from recognized experts or government officials who can vouch for the national importance of your endeavor. Their insights can add significant weight to your application.
  • Document Your Endeavor: Include a detailed plan outlining how you intend to achieve your goals, supported by evidence of any progress made to date. This demonstrates both your commitment and your project’s feasibility.

Continue reading →

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In the complex web of U.S. immigration law, the National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a pathway for professionals and entrepreneurs wishing to contribute significantly to American society. At the Chicago immigration law practice of Zneimer & Zneimer, we have had the privilege of providing legal guidance to many noncitizens through the intricacies of the NIW process, leading to many approvals and ultimately permanent residence. Our extensive experience, coupled with a thorough analysis of thousands of appellate decisions, has equipped us with unique insights into the common pitfalls applicants face, especially regarding demonstrating national importance.

A critical stumbling block for many NIW applicants is proving that their work is of national importance. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets a high bar for this criterion, requiring evidence that an applicant’s endeavors will significantly benefit the United States. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned and highly qualified individuals falter at this hurdle.

Common Failures and Examples we Identified

1. Broad Assertions Without Concrete Impact. Many applicants make the mistake of relying on broad assertions about the importance of their field without linking their specific contributions to tangible, national outcomes. For instance, a researcher in renewable energy might highlight the global need for sustainable sources but fail to demonstrate how their specific project addresses an unmet need within the United States or leads to advancements with wide-reaching implications.

2. Misalignment with National Priorities. Another frequent oversight is failing to align the proposed endeavor with explicitly stated national priorities or initiatives. An entrepreneur in the tech industry, for example, may develop a groundbreaking application without showing how this innovation supports national objectives in technology competitiveness, cybersecurity, or economic development.

3. Inadequate Documentation of Broader Implications. Applicants often underestimate the importance of substantiating the broader implications of their work. A case in point involved a medical professional specializing in rare diseases who provided extensive documentation on their clinical expertise and patient care but lacked evidence on how their research or treatments could influence national healthcare strategies or public health policies.

4. Lack of Distinct Contributions. A common pitfall is the failure to distinguish personal contributions from the broader field. For example, an architect promoting sustainable urban development might present a compelling vision for green cities but fail to delineate their unique contributions or how their work sets new standards or models for national adoption.

5. Overlooking Quantifiable Economic or Societal Impact. Finally, many applicants struggle to present quantifiable evidence of their economic or societal impact. A financial analyst advocating for more equitable housing financing solutions provided a wealth of theoretical knowledge but fell short in demonstrating the national economic impact, such as evidence of reduced housing disparities or improved financial accessibility for underserved communities. Continue reading →

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The journey of foreign medical graduates to practice medicine in the United States embodies a challenging yet immensely rewarding pathway. From securing a visa to fulfilling residency requirements, FMGs  navigate a web of regulatory and procedural hurdles, including dealing with ECFMG, USMLE, state licensing issues, and of course, immigration issues. In this landscape, understanding the intricacies of J waivers, H-1B visas, and the role of experienced immigration law firms like Zneimer & Zneimer becomes indispensable.

For many FMGs, the journey begins either with H-1B or with a J-1 visa.  The J-1 visa comes with two years foreign residency requirements and ineligibility for H-1B visa or permanent residence until the two years foreign residency requirement is completed or unless the foreign medical graduate receives a J waiver.  For those seeking to remain in the U.S., obtaining a J-1 waiver is crucial. This waiver allows FMGs to bypass the home residency requirement under certain conditions, such as serving in a medically underserved area. The complexity of these applications highlights the importance of having seasoned immigration attorneys to guide FMGs through the process.  Our law firm is very experienced in all types of J waivers.

The H-1B visa serves as another mechanism for FMGs aspiring to practice in the U.S. but not all residency programs file H-1B petitions for their medical residents. Unlike the J-1, the H-1B does not inherently require a return to one’s home country after training. It permits FMGs to work in the U.S. for up to six years, offering a potential pathway to permanent residency. The annual cap on H-1B visas and the lottery system make it a competitive and uncertain process, except for those foreign physicians who work for cap-exempt entities. Expert legal guidance becomes invaluable in navigating this complex landscape and maximizing the chances of a successful application.

At the heart of the journey for many FMGs is the support and expertise of immigration law firms, among which Zneimer & Zneimer stands out for its dedication and success in assisting FMGs. Our clients stay with us from the start of their medical residency throughout the day they become citizens.  With years of experience, Zneimer & Zneimer has developed a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by FMGs and tailored strategies to overcome these obstacles. Whether it is strategizing for J-1 waivers, filing H-1B petitions, or navigating the green card process, Zneimer & Zneimer provides comprehensive support to FMGs at every step of their journey.

What sets Zneimer & Zneimer apart is not just its expertise in immigration law but its genuine commitment to the success and well-being of FMGs. Recognizing the critical role of FMGs in addressing healthcare shortages across the U.S., Zneimer & Zneimer takes pride in facilitating the integration of these highly skilled professionals into the U.S. healthcare system. The firm’s extensive experience, coupled with a personalized approach to each case, ensures that FMGs have the best possible representation and advice. Continue reading →

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The Chicago H-1B immigration attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer PC are actively enrolling businesses in need of specialized workers for the H-1B lottery. It has come to our attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has decided to extend the initial registration timeframe for the fiscal year 2025 H-1B cap due to technical difficulties. The initial registration period, which commenced at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024, and was initially slated to conclude at noon Eastern on March 22, 2024, has been extended to conclude at noon Eastern on March 25, 2024. This extension is in response to a temporary system outage encountered by some registrants, providing them with additional time to address this complication.  Throughout this extension, prospective petitioners, and their representatives where relevant, are required to utilize a USCIS online account to electronically register each beneficiary for the selection process and remit the requisite registration fee for each beneficiary. The USCIS still plans to inform the selected registrants by March 31, 2024.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States. The H-1B visa program is subject to an annual cap or limit on the number of visas that can be issued each fiscal year, which currently stands at 65,000 for the regular cap, with an additional 20,000 visas available to graduates with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions of higher education.


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The Chicago H-1B visa lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer PC. reviewed the DHS’s final regulations regarding the H-1B registration process.  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has introduced a series of significant changes to the H-1B visa registration process, aiming to streamline the procedure and ensure a fair chance for all applicants. With the new system commencing on March 6, 2024 and ends on March 22, 2024, it is crucial for employers to understand these updates and prepare accordingly.

Beneficiary-Centric Process

The Department of Homeland Security published final regulations outlining how USCIS will select H-1B registrations.  The USCIS introduced a beneficiary-centric approach, which marks a significant shift from the previous method of selection. Under the new rule, USCIS will select H-1B registrations based on each unique beneficiary, meaning that every individual entered the selection process will have an equal opportunity to be chosen, regardless of the number of registrations filed on their behalf. This method aims to eliminate the possibility of gaming the system to increase selection chances, thereby maintaining the integrity and fairness of the process.

Under the new H-1B visa registration process, all employers who submit registrations on behalf of a beneficiary will be notified if that beneficiary is selected in the lottery. Once a beneficiary is selected in the H-1B visa lottery, USCIS will inform every employer who submitted a registration for that specific beneficiary. This notification process allows all participating employers to be aware of their candidate’s selection status. Subsequently, each notified employer will have the opportunity to file an H-1B petition on behalf of the selected beneficiary during the applicable petition filing period.

This approach will be beneficiary-centric in nature, aiming to streamline communication and reduce uncertainty for employers.  For that reason, the registrants must enter either a valid passport information or valid travel document information in the registration.

Understanding the Electronic Registration Requirement

In an effort to make the H-1B visa application process more efficient, USCIS now mandates that all petitioners must register electronically through the official USCIS website. This requirement applies to both the H-1B regular cap and the H-1B advanced degree exemption. It is the first step in filing an H-1B cap-subject petition for a beneficiary, ensuring that the petitioner is eligible to proceed with the application for the selected fiscal year.

The Importance of Individual Registrations

A critical aspect of the updated process is the limitation on registrations per beneficiary. Each prospective petitioner is required to submit a separate electronic registration for every beneficiary and is restricted to one registration per beneficiary per fiscal year.

Registration Period and Selection Process

The initial registration period is set to last a minimum of 14 calendar days, providing a sufficient window for all interested petitioners to submit their registrations. USCIS commits to announcing the start and end dates of this period well in advance, ensuring transparency and allowing employers to prepare accordingly.  Here are the important dates:

  • March 6: H-1B registration period opens at noon Eastern.
  • March 22: H-1B registration period closes at noon Eastern.
  • March 31: Date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants.
  • April 1: The earliest date that FY 2025 H-1B cap-subject petitions based on the registrations selected during the initial FY 2025 selection period may be filed.

A change in the selection process is the focus on unique beneficiaries. This means that each beneficiary will be counted only once in the selection process, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on their behalf. This adjustment aims to democratize the selection process, giving each beneficiary an equal chance of being selected.

Required Information for Registration

To complete the registration, petitioners must include the beneficiary’s valid passport information or a valid travel document. This ensures that the beneficiary can be accurately identified and is eligible to enter the United States if selected. It is important to note that each beneficiary must be registered under a single passport or travel document, reinforcing the uniqueness of each registration.

The following information must be entered as part of the registration process

  1. Beneficiary’s Legal Name: Ensure the registration includes the full legal name of the beneficiary.
  2. Date of Birth: Provide the complete date of birth of the beneficiary.
  3. Country of Birth: Include the country where the beneficiary was born.
  4. Valid Passport or Travel Document Information:
  • Passport number or travel document number.
  • Country of issuance. Enter the country that issued the passport and not the country in which a consulate is geographically located.  For example, if a German citizen has their German passport issued or renewed at the German Consulate in the United States, please write “Germany.”
  • Expiration date.
  1. Certification under Penalty of Perjury:
  • The registrant must certify that the information contained in the registration is complete, true, and correct.
  • The registration must reflect a legitimate job offer, and the registrant intends to file an H-1B petition on behalf of the beneficiary.

Post-Selection Procedures

Upon selection, USCIS will notify each registrant employer, allowing the petitioner to proceed with filing an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary. This notification is crucial as it enables the employer to prepare the necessary documentation and fulfill the subsequent steps of the application process within the designated filing period.

Registration Fee and Compliance Continue reading →

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Navegar por los caminos de la inmigración en los EE.UU. puede ser complejo, especialmente para aquellos venezolanos que buscan refugio ante la agitación política. Para aclarar, desglosamos los recientes anuncios sobre el estatus TPS de Venezuela y destacamos las fechas esenciales a considerar.

Extensión del TPS para Venezolanos: Aspectos Clave según un Abogado de Inmigración de Chicago

El Secretario de Seguridad Nacional ha extendido la designación de TPS de Venezuela, que comenzó el 9 de marzo de 2021. Esta extensión permite a los beneficiarios actuales mantener su TPS hasta el 10 de septiembre de 2025, siempre que sigan cumpliendo con los requisitos de elegibilidad.

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