Certain professionals working in areas which directly benefit the United States can apply for US permanent residence without their employer agreeing to act as a sponsor. These self-filing petitions are regularly called National Interest Waivers. Along with the lack of need for a sponsor, the main benefit of this category is the avoidance of the labor certification process.
The employment based Second Preference Category (EB-2) includes members of the professions who hold advanced degrees and individuals of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business. Although this category normally requires a job offer and labor certification, USCIS may waive this requirement if the work of the alien is in the "national interest". Statements by experts concerning the importance of their work to the overall well-being of the nation are considered, along with past accomplishments and the need for their particular type of skill in the U.S. This standard has not been particularly well defined by USCIS. Successful cases will prove that the alien's presence will improve: the US economy; US working conditions; the educational system of the US; health care; housing; the environment; or an interested US government agency has requested the waiver.
In August of 1998, USCIS (then INS) attempted to further define this standard through the New York State Dept. of Transportation case (NYSDOT). NYSDOT states: (1) the applicant must seek to work in an area of "substantial intrinsic merit"; (2) the applicant must provide a benefit that is national in scope; and (3) the benefit to the US must considerably outweigh the inherent national interest in protecting US workers through the labor certification process. The standard established by NYSDOT remains vague and difficult to define.
Please contact Jeffrey B. Steinfeld, PC for a case-specific evaluation of your National Interest Waiver or Extraordinary Ability case. If you live or work in the New York / New Jersey metro area, please call or email us to arrange an in-person consultation with one of our immigration lawyers.
The Extraordinary Ability category is open to aliens with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics who have been able to demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievement have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation. Successful applicants should show that they have reached "the small percentage of individuals who have risen to the top of their field of endeavor."
Like the National Interest Waiver category, the alien does not need to have an offer of employment to file under this category. However, the application does need to document that he or she intends to pursue work in the US in his or her area of expertise.
To demonstrate "sustained or international acclaim" and the recognition of the applicant's work, the applicant must submit evidence of a one-time achievement such as a major international award (Nobel Prize, Academy Award, etc.) or three OR MORE of the following:
USCIS will generally not award the visa based simply on counting pieces of paper. Rather, it will look at the quality of evidence to see if the evidence category is met.
Please contact Jeffrey B. Steinfeld, PC for a case-specific evaluation of your Extraordinary Ability case. If you live or work in the New York / New Jersey metro area, please call or email us to arrange an in-person consultation in our Hackensack, NJ office.