New National Interest Waiver adjudication standard

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

National Interest Waiver category & recent court decision affecting physicians

The Administrative Appeals Office ("AAO") decided an important case last month for physicians applying for immigrant visas (commonly referred to as "green cards") in the National Interest Wavier category. In its decision in Matter of H-V-P-, the AAO rejected the Texas Service Center's ("TSC") attempt to change a longstanding agency interpretation based upon a single decision. In most categories of employment-based immigrant visas, applicants usually need a job offer from a U.S. employer. In this recent decision, however, the AAO recognized that the law requires USCIS to waive the job offer requirement for both primary and specialty care physicians who work full-time in an area with a shortage of health care professionals (and meet other requirements not at issue in this case). The AAO concluded TSC's narrow interpretation of the regulation as requiring a specific specialty care shortage certification was inconsistent with past USCIS practice and would "frustrate the statutory scheme Congress enacted to improve access to medical care in underserved areas." 

If you have questions about the National Interest Waiver category or visa options for physicians, please contact the attorneys at Iandoli Desai & Cronin P.C. at