A National Interest Waiver (NIW) petition falls in the employment-based, second-preference (EB-2) immigration category. For most EB-2 applications, petitioners need a permanent job offer and an approved labor certification. However, an NIW requests these requirements be waived for the sake of the “national interest of the United States,” thus allowing an applicant to apply for this status without a labor certification or a job offer from a U.S. employer.
In order to be qualify for an NIW petition, a beneficiary or applicant must have an “advanced degree” or “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business. The beneficiary must also persuasively demonstrate that his or her proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; that he or she is well-positioned to advance this endeavor; and that it would therefore be beneficial to the United States to waive the standard requirements of a job offer and labor certification. While each NIW case is adjudicated on its individual merits, the burden of proof is always on the applicant or beneficiary to establish that exemption from labor certification will be in the national interest of the U.S.
Even if the beneficiary has no employer, he or she may file an NIW petition on behalf of him- or herself. Alternatively, a U.S. employer can file an NIW petition on behalf of an alien.
According to USCIS, those seeking EB-2 visas and national interest waivers also need to demonstrate evidence of at least three of the following:
One of the lesser used paths to permanent residency (a “green card”) in the U.S. is that of an Outstanding Professor or Researcher. The Outstanding Professor or Researcher category is a subcategory under the Employment-Based First category. It is sometimes referred to as the EB-1(2) category.
Although the EB-1(2) category is used less often than other employment-based paths to permanent residency, it has several advantages over other categories, and should be considered whenever it might be applicable. First, the EB-1(2) category does not require labor certification, meaning there is no requirement that there be no U.S. workers who are unable or unwilling to fill the position. Second, as compared to other categories where a labor certification is not required, according to USCIS statistics, applications filed in the EB-1(2) category have a significantly higher approval rate (see https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/approval-and-denial-statistics-i-140-immigrant-petition-alien-workers).
To establish eligibility for an immigrant visa as an Outstanding Professor or Researcher, the applicant must demonstrate that: (1) the applicant is recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic area; (2) the applicant has at least three years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area; and (3) the applicant seeks to enter the United States to pursue a “qualifying position.”
A qualifying position is one that is: (1) a tenure or tenure track teaching position; (2) a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education; or (3) a comparable research position with a private employer. To qualify for EB-1(2) eligibility based upon employment in a research department or division at a private employer, that employer must satisfy additional requirements, namely, the research department or division must employ at least three persons full-time in research activities, and must have achieved documented accomplishments in the field.
In addition to the employer satisfying the “qualifying position” requirement, the individual applicant must demonstrate international recognition as outstanding in the particular academic field. To satisfy this requirement, the applicant is required to submit documentation of at least two of the following criteria:
Assuming the applicant is able to meet at least two of the evidentiary criteria, and if the applicant has a job offer for a “qualifying position,” the EB-1(2) immigrant visa category should be considered as a preferable alternative to the stricter extraordinary ability, national interest waiver, or the labor certification options.
An Alien of Extraordinary Ability, or EB-1A, classification applies to aliens who have distinguished themselves professionally in their fields of work or study. Notably, these employment-based, first-preference visa candidates do not have to secure sponsorship from an employer, as an EB-1A petition requires neither a job offer nor a labor certification.
Aliens residing in the U.S. or abroad are eligible to apply for this designation, provided they meet two general qualifications stipulated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
A major, internationally recognized award like an Olympic Medal, Nobel Prize, or Oscar will suffice.
In the absence of such a rare honor, however, applicants can still demonstrate their extraordinary abilities, supported by extensive documentation, by meeting any three of the following 10 criteria:
In addition to fulfilling the above criteria, applicants must prove that they will continue to pursue work in the U.S. in the field in which they have demonstrated extraordinary abilities. To this end, they strive to show that their work is of substantial and prospective benefit to U.S. national interests.
An F1 visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program at a US college or university. F-1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status. They can remain in the US up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program, unless they have applied and been approved to stay and work for a period of time under the OPT Program
Foreign students completing associate, bachelors, masters or doctorate degrees as well as non-degree students completing structured programs or certificate programs in F-1 student status are eligible to receive permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to be employed for a period of one year. This employment authorization is called Optional Practical Training. Optional practical training after completion of studies is not a one-time option. If you use a one-year period of practical training after completion of your degree, you can obtain another period of optional practical training upon completion of a higher degree.
The J-1 visa in the United States is for people who wish to take part in work-and-study-based exchange and visitor programs in the U.S. These programs are sponsored by an educational or other nonprofit institution, which must be accredited through the Exchange Visitor Program designated by the U.S. State Department. J-1 exchange visitors come to the United States to teach, study, receive training, or demonstrate special skills. The J1 visa is meant for students who need practical training that is not available to them in their home country, and the training must be directly related to their academic program.
The "M" visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.
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