Option 6 of Mitchell Williams' Immigration Series on alternatives to H-1B visas: National Interest Waiver

Foreign workers who were not selected for the H-1B lottery, and do not have an employer willing to continue sponsoring them for employment, may be able to apply for a National Interest Waiver (NIW) green card. It is important to note that in order to qualify for a NIW green card the foreign worker will need to have either;

  • an advanced degree (Master’s or higher); or

  • a bachelor’s degree with five years of post-bachelor’s work experience; or

  • evidence proving exceptional ability

If the foreign worker is eligible to apply for a NIW green card, the worker will not be required to have a U.S. employer sponsor. Instead, the foreign worker will need to prove that he or she:

  1. Seeks employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit

  2. That the benefit will be national in scope

  3. That national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification was required

When determining whether a particular applicant is eligible for the NIW green card, it is often best to establish that the foreign worker will benefit the United States in one of the following ways;

  • improving the U.S. economy;

  • improving wages and working conditions for U.S. workers;

  • improving education and programs for U.S. children and underqualified workers;

  • improving health care;

  • providing more affordable housing;

  • improving the U.S. environment and making more productive use of natural resources; or

  • interested government agency request

The NIW green card can be advantageous for foreign workers who qualify. The NIW green card can be used for a variety of occupations including, coaches, computer programmers, engineers, entrepreneurs, investment analysist, musicians, researchers, and scientists.

Foreign workers who are interested in applying for a NIW green card, should discuss their options with an immigration attorney as early as possible.