Articles Tagged with NIW

Published on:

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 →

Published on:

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:

Published on:

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 →

Published on:

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 →

Published on:

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 →

Published on:

The Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”) recently scrapped the “national interest waiver” test of In re N.Y. STATE Dep’t OF Transp., 22 I. & N. Dec. 215 (1998) and replaced it with a new one in Matter of DHANASAR, 26 I. & N. Dec. 884 (AAO 2016).

The AAO determined that the test USCIS has been following for the last 18 years was too subjective, and promised that the new framework “will provide greater clarity, apply more flexibility to circumstances… and better advance the purpose of the broadd discretionary waiver provisions to benefit the United States.”   Id. at 888.

National Interest Waiver

To receive a national interest waiver, the petitioner must meet the statutory requirements in Section 203(b)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  This Section states in relevant part:

(2) Aliens Who Are Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Aliens of Exceptional Ability. —

(A) In General. — Visas shall be made available . . . to qualified immigrants who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent or who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States, and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the United States.

(B) Waiver of Job Offer. — The Attorney General may, when he deems it to be in the national interest, waive the requirement of subparagraph (A) that an alien’s services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business be sought by an employer in the United States.

Under Section A, the petitioner must establish that the alien is (i) either a “member of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent” or (ii) has “exceptional ability” in one or more of the enumerated fields; and (iii) will “substantially benefit prospectively” the national economy, cultural or education interests, or welfare of the United States.  Once the petitioner meets the threshold requirement of subsection A, the petitioner must demonstrate that forgoing the requirement for a job offer and labor certification (a test for availability of U.S. workers) can be “deemed to be in the national interest.”Id. Continue reading →

Contact Information