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The National Interest Waiver – EB-2 Permanent Residence Option for Entrepreneurs

The “National Interest Waiver” (NIW) is a permanent residence option, which does not require a job offer or a Labor Certification. It is open to qualified individuals who are self-employed to self-petition. It is in the Second Preference Category (EB-2) for employment-based immigration visas. More on the NIW in general.

Caroline Ostrom, Minneapolis business immigration attorney, assists entrepreneurs and investors worldwide who are seeking U.S. visas. We encourage you to contact us if you need legal advice regarding the NIW and EB-2 eligibility.


A National Interest Waiver for an entrepreneur requires:

  • A relevant Advanced Degree (Master’s or higher, or Bachelor’s degree plus 5 years progressive, post-Bachelor’s experience) or demonstrated Exceptional Ability in the area of intended activity;
  • Evidence that the proposed business activity has substantial intrinsic merit;
  • Evidence that the business activity creates a benefit beyond the locality or region where the business is located – that the benefit is national in scope;
  • Evidence that the individual seeking permanent residence is likely to make contributions of greater impact than a typical U.S. worker with the same credentials.

New Initiatives

The NIW has not been used extensively for businesses in the past but, in August of 2011, the Department of Homeland Security announced as part of a broader policy initiative that the NIW is an option for qualified entrepreneurs. Also, in November 2014, the Department published a list of priorities to improve the U.S. immigration system, and included among these was the statement that the NIW is underutilized. It may be that, going forward, entrepreneurs will find this option increasingly viable and commonly used. Entrepreneurs that are innovative in terms of business models, product technologies employed, or other distinguishing factors will have the best prospects of success for a National Interest Waiver.


In order to pursue permanent residence through a National Interest Waiver, the entrepreneur files an immigrant petition with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, demonstrating the intrinsic merit of the company, its national benefit and future impact. If the entrepreneur is present in the United States in some other immigration status, the entrepreneur may also file an application to adjust his or her status to lawful permanent resident, based on approval of the immigrant petition. Dependents, including spouses and children under age 21 may adjust status to permanent resident along with the entrepreneur.

How Our Minneapolis Immigration Attorney Can Help

Utilizing the National Interest Waiver is a relatively new way for entrepreneurs to apply for permanent residence in the United States. We use our knowledge of the applicable rules, regulations, memorandums and initiatives to evaluate cases, as well as our experience in preparing other kinds of NIW cases, to submit strong petitions in this developing area within immigration law.

Based in Minneapolis, our immigration team works with entrepreneurs and investors in the Twin Cities and throughout the globe. We welcome you to contact Ostrom Law Office for assistance with your immigration matter.

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