National Interest Waiver Petitions

A “National Interest Waiver” is a waiver of the job offer requirement to a U.S. worker for an employment based petition if the alien’s work can be deemed to be in the “national interest.” The National Interest Waiver is available for professionals with advanced degrees and people of exceptional ability.

Frequently Asked Questions about National Interest Waiver Petitions

What is the “National Interest?”

Regulations have not explicitly defined “National Interest”. However, the Immigration Service has recognized the following criteria in determining whether the national interest is met:

  • Improving the U.S. economy;
  • Improving wages and working conditions of U.S. workers;
  • Improving education and training programs for U.S. children and under qualified workers;
  • Improving health care;
  • Providing more affordable housing for young and/or older, poorer U.S. residents;
  • Improving the environment of the United States and making more productive use of natural resources;
  • A request from an interested U.S. government agency.

What are the Advantages for Filing for a National Interest Waiver?

There are several advantages to filing a National Interest Waiver and obtaining an approval in this category. Since the waiver is of the job offer requirement, it does not require that a specific job be offered to the to a U.S. worker by an employer. As a practical matter, the principle advantage in many cases is that one does not have to go through the labor certification process to show that there is a shortage of qualified U.S. workers for a particular position.

What is an Advanced Degree Professional?

The term “Advanced Degree Professional” means that the beneficiary either has an advanced degree (M.A., M.S., M.E., M.D. or Ph.D.) or its equivalent, and is working in an area that requires at least a Bachelor’s degree or is traditionally regarded as a profession, such as lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers and teachers. A Bachelor’s degree plus five years’ experience in a professional or progressive occupation may also satisfy the qualification requirement of an “advanced degree.”

What are the Qualifications for National Interest Waivers?

The threshold requirement for a national interest waiver is a master’s degree or “exceptional ability” in your field.

The main requirement is a three-part test.

  • The work must be of “substantial intrinsic merit”;
  • The benefits of the work must be “national in scope” (as opposed to being purely “local”); and,
  • There must be a past record of achievement demonstrates that the applicant can benefit the national interest to a “substantially greater degree than would an available U.S. worker having the same minimum qualifications.”

What are the Advantages of National Interest Waivers?

  • Does not require a labor certification.
  • Does not require a permanent job offer in the United States.


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