In a recent precedent decision, the Administrative Appeals Office ("AAO") revised the analytical framework for assessing eligibility for national interest waivers ("NIW") thereby vacating the long-standing test set forth in NYSDOT (Matter of New York State Dept of Transp. 22 I&N Dec. 215 (Acting Assoc. Comm'r 1998). According to the new decision (Matter of Dhanasar, 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO 2016)), USCIS may approve an NIW if the petitioner demonstrates: (1) that the foreign national's proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; (2) that he or she is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and (3) that, on balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirement of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.
The NIW category is a popular route for many foreign nationals to apply for lawful permanent residence (commonly referred to as "green card" status), provided they can prove they possess an advanced degree and their work meets the criteria outlined above. Their field of employment may be in a variety of fields, including but not limited to business, entrepreneurialism, science, technology, culture, health, or education. Notably, the NIW category is one of the few employment-based green card options for individuals to self-sponsor, meaning they may apply and demonstrate how they meet the criteria without an employer formally sponsoring them with an offer of permanent employment. If you would like to explore whether or not you qualify under this new standard, please contact the attorneys at Iandoli Desai & Cronin at firstname.lastname@example.org.