Our NIW Case Process and Timeline

Getting a green card through National Interest Waiver (NIW) immigrant visa category involves two steps, 1) getting NIW approval and 2) applying for green card.

NIW Pre-filing Stage

The NIW application process involves preparing the necessary documentation, filing the NIW petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and waiting for its decision. During the adjudication process, USCIS may issue request for additional evidence if they believe the provided documents are not sufficient to make a decision.  Therefore, it is crucial to that applicants include all documentation and forms required for an NIW petition to avoid delay. For your reference, read the following steps that describe the NIW application process, from pre-filing to post-receipt of USCIS’s decision, to ensure effective processing of your application. This will be an interactive process between clients and our attorneys.  It takes anywhere from one month to several months to prepare an NIW application. Generally, the timeframe depends on how quickly applicants provide the requested documentation. Our attorney will assist you to prepare and file their cases as soon as possible. The list below includes the forms and documents needed:

  • Forms: Immigration Petition for Alien Worker(Form I-140); Alien Employment Certification Application (Form ETA-750B); Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (Form G-28) is required.
  • Petition Letter: addressed to USCIS, which serves as an outline of the NIW application. In addition to demonstrating client’s credentials meeting the minimum requirement of NIW standard, we further provide thorough explanation of the field of endeavor’s necessity to the U.S. and why an exemption from labor certification will be in the national interest of the U.S. and how the endeavor would be beneficial to the US interests in the following aspects:
  • The alien’s admission will improve the U.S. economy.
  • The alien’s admission will improve wages and working conditions of U.S. Workers.
  • The alien’s admission will improve educational and training programs for U.S. children and underqualified workers.
  • The alien’s admission will improve health care
  • The alien’s admission will provide more affordable housing for young, aged, or poor U.S. residents.
  • The alien’s admission will improve the U.S. environment and lead to more productive use of the national resources.
  • The alien’s admission is requested by an interested U.S. government agency.
  • Supporting Documentation: if the client is eligible for NIW because of his/her Advanced Degree, then a copy of the diploma and foreign evaluation report (if applicable) is necessary. Please note that an alien without Advanced Degree can also be qualify for NIW if he/she can demostrate exceptional ability by meeting two of the following six evidential criteria:
  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

However, holding Advanced Degree or having exceptional ability is merely a minimum requirement for the employment-based, second-preference, or EB-2, category and does not necessarily guarantee a successful NIW case. Therefore, additional evidence is required to demostrate a client’s NIW eligibility. Such supporting documentation can include:

  1. Letters of recommendation from experts in the alien’s field, which must speak to the Dhanasar three-prong test
  2. Evidence of past accomplishments that are described in detail and that show projections of future benefits in terms of U.S. national interests. Additionally, this evidence must show that alien has played a crucial role over the course of his or her work experience
  3. Evidence of membership in professional associations
  4. For research, evidence of project funding or grants
  5. Curriculum vitae, which should include awards, honors, etc.
  6. Publications, publication requests, conference presentations, etc.
  7. Multiple non-self-citations in journals to show that the alien has impacted the field
  8. Invitations and acknowledgment letters for peer review work completed at conferences or for journals


NIW Adjudication Process

After thorough prefiling review, we’ll submit your completed petition package to the proper USCIS Service Center. USCIS will then issue an official receipt notice, acknowledging that it has received your NIW application. The date USCIS receives a petition package is known as the filing date, which USCIS uses as its “priority date” for your application. Typically, USCIS issues a receipt within a week or two of submission, and we promptly provide our clients a copy of this receipt as soon as we get it.

The current processing time for NIW ranges from 6 months to one year depending on the particular USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction, as well as the individual USCIS officer who processes the case. After reviewing the petition, USCIS can do one of the following:

  1. Approve the NIW.If your petition is approved, USCIS will mail an approval notice in a Form I-797.
  2. Issue a Request for Additional Evidence (RFE) notice.If the USCIS officer reviewing your case has determined that there is insufficient evidence for approval, the officer can ask you to provide additional evidence to support specific points in your application. RFEs take the form of an official letter. Generally, USCIS allows you up to 84 days to respond to an RFE. Your attorney will guide you gather requested documents and promptly respond to the RFE. If no additional evidence provided, USCIS will adjudicate the case as it is.
  3. Issue a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).In the event the USCIS officer reviewing your case determines that your application should not be approved, or if there is no extra documentation or evidence submitted, the officer can issue a NOID Generally speaking, both the guidelines for and documents used in responding to NOID are similar to those for RFE responses. Similar as RFE, NOID takes the form of a letter, and USCIS allows up to 84 days to respond. If the client does not respond to a NOID in that time with additional evidence, the case will be denied. Thus, a NOID differs from an RFE in that a case with an RFE may have a chance of approval (albeit a very slim chance), even though no additional evidence has been submitted. If USCIS issues a NOID on a pending case of one of our clients, your attorneys will respond and submit additional evidence to rebut the NOID.
  4. Simply deny your application without an RFE or a NOID. In general, an NIW petition with the required initial evidence should not be outright denied. However, if the adjudicating USCIS officer decides that a petition does not contain the basic evidence needed to satisfy the minimum criteria, then the officer can issue a denial notice. There have been instances in which USCIS has denied cases that did contain all the required initial documents. In such an event, a petitioner can request that USCIS reopens his or her case.

At our firm, we’ll assist you in the preparation and submission of all the evidence required for your case. As soon as USCIS makes a final decision on your NIW case, we’ll immediately inform you of the result.


NIW Green Card Process

If you are in the United State and your visa number is current, meaning that no visa backlog for EB2 category for your country of birth, you may file adjustment of status (AOS) application along with your NIW petition.  However, USCIS will not adjudicate you AOS application until your NIW is approved.  You may also file AOS application immediate upon approval of your NIW petition. In this case, you usually could receive your green card within one year of filing your AOS.

If you are in your home country and your visa number is current at the time your NIW being approved, your case will be transfer to National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. You will receive notice from NVC within 2 months of approval, instructing you to submit civil documents and online application to initiate the Consular Processing process. You will go through visa interview at you home country and come to the US with your immigrant visa.  You will then receive your green card after entering the United States.

If your visa number is not current, you would have to wait for your visa number became current to begin the Adjustment of Status application or Consular Processing.