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Understanding National Interest: EB-2 National Interest Waiver Petitions

Updated: Jul 5

  • Provides an overview of National Interest, Substantial Merit, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW), and the role that ProfVal plays in the EB-2 NIW visa process. 

National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitioners must show that their endeavors strengthen the United States of America.

What is a National Interest Waiver (NIW)?

As part of an EB-2 NIW petition, professionals of exceptional ability may request to waive the job offer requirement and labor certification when their endeavor is determined to be in the National Interests of the United States.  In such a situation, the individual is requesting a National Interest Waiver (NIW).

When assessing whether a petitioner and their endeavor qualify for an EB-2 NIW, USCIS adjudicators follow guidance based on the "three-prong test,” introduced in 2016 in the Matter of Dhanasar:

  1. Does the proposed endeavor have both Substantial Merit and National Importance?

  2. Is the petitioner well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor?

  3. On balance, would it be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer, and thus the labor certification?

USCIS adjudicators have considerable discretion in their decisions and the combination of these criteria require considerable effort to prove, so “RFEs questioning National Interest  are relatively common in NIW cases”, Fernanda Cortes, ESQ.

What is Substantial Merit and National Importance?

Substantial Merit refers to whether a petitioner’s endeavor aligns to areas of importance for the United States. An endeavor’s merit may be demonstrated in a range of areas such as business, entrepreneurship, science, technology, culture, health, education, or other areas that substantially benefit the National Interests of the United States. An endeavor’s merit may be established without immediate or quantifiable economic impact.

National Importance refers to an endeavor’s “potential prospective impact,” such as national implications within a field or the potential to have a substantial economic impact on an economically distressed area or other specific region. As such, an endeavor does not need to impact the entire nation to be considered of national importance ( Other areas of National Importance include (but are not limited to):

  • National security

  • Public health

  • Societal welfare and quality of life

  • The generation of jobs and tax revenue (particularly in economically distressed areas)

  • Advancements in a particular field

  • Areas recognized as important by the U.S. government

What does it mean for an endeavor to be aligned with National Interest?

If a petitioner submits evidence fulfilling each of the three prongs of Dhanasar and establishes the Substantial Merit and National Importance of their endeavor, then they will be able to show that their endeavor is aligned with National Interest, qualifying them for a National Interest Waiver. It is up to the petitioner to prove their credentials and qualifications, as well as the Substantial Merit and National Importance of their endeavor.

If the USCIS doubts any of these areas, they may submit a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). So what does it mean for an endeavor to be aligned with National Interest?

“In an immigration context, aligning an endeavor with National Interest means showing that your work or proposed activities have the potential to benefit the country in meaningful ways. 

For example, your goal in the US  can promote economic growth, create jobs, or enhance the nation’s competitiveness in global markets. It might contribute to important scientific research, technological innovations, or advancements in healthcare. Efforts that support sustainable practices, environmental protection, or improvements in energy efficiency are also valuable. Enhancing educational opportunities, cultural enrichment, and national security are other areas where your work can make a significant impact. It is about demonstrating that your contributions can positively influence the country’s broader interests and priorities. Each applicant brings unique strengths, and your individual contributions can be a valuable part of the nation’s progress.” -  Fernanda Cortes, ESQ.

When issuing NIW RFEs and NOIDs, the USCIS will typically question the qualifications of the petitioner (whether they are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor) and / or if the proposed endeavor meets the qualifications of Substantial Merit and National Importance. 

“The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may question the national importance of an endeavor for several reasons. A common issue is the lack of clear evidence demonstrating how the applicant’s proposed endeavor is of national importance.”

In our view, the most important step that a qualified professional can take to maximize their probability of success is to work with a capable immigration attorney.  In fact, we require that all clients of ProfVal have an immigration attorney or case manager.  Your attorney will help to ensure that you have your core evidence organized in a way that is accessible to USCIS agents.

ProfVal helps you to produce some of the most important evidence for your petition.

What is ProfVal's role in the EB-2 NIW process?

ProfVal offers a variety of services to support EB-2 NIW petitions. It is important that each document is developed in the correct order, as some documents depend on others.  For example, an EB-2 NIW Expert Opinion Letter should reference a Business or Professional Plan and these documents include a resume as an input.

Thus, in the order that these documents should be produced, ProfVal offers the following services to support your EB-2 NIW Petition:

  1. Immigration attorney referral: if you do not already have an attorney, we can recommend a law firm for you.

  1. Immigration resumes: The resume you use for getting a job can be different from the resume you present to the USCIS  – simply, these are different audiences.  

  1. Support letters from your peers: Your peers may be willing to support your endeavor, but they may need some assistance in focusing on aspects of your career linked to your petition. Thus, we offer support letter assistance.

  1. Business or Professional Plan: a Business or Professional Plan represents your professional story. Your type of endeavor determines the type of story you tell.

  • An Immigration Business Plan is essential if you will be starting a new business in association with your EB-2 NIW petition.  To quantify the impact of your endeavor using U.S. government data, you may wish to include a RIMS II assessment as an optional add-on to your Business Plan.

  • A Professional Plan, also referred to as a personal plan, is valuable if your endeavor does not relate to developing a business.  This is common for doctors, pilots, artists, and a variety of other professions.

  1. EB-2 NIW Expert Opinion Letters.  An Expert Opinion Letter represents an independent expert’s assessment of your credentials and endeavor. 

“An Expert Opinion Letter (EOL) focusing on the National Interest Waiver (NIW) is essential because it directly highlights the unique contributions of the applicant. The EOL serves as a critical document to demonstrate to the immigration officer how and why the applicant's endeavor is of national importance.”  Fernanda Cortes, ESQ.

An EB-2 NIW Expert Opinion Letter from ProfVal may focus on different areas:

  • Our standard EB-2 NIW Expert Opinion Letter represents an in-depth and highly-customized research-based document authored by an expert with domain knowledge relevant to a client’s endeavor (see expertise areas, see expert qualification criteria).   It is guided by the Prongs of Dhanasar

  • A NIW-only EOL is designed to focus specifically on National Importance and the benefits of waiving the job offer and labor certification.  Often, these letters are written by experts with a background in Economics, Entrepreneurship, or another area that provides the expert with a unique capacity to assess national implications of an endeavor.

  • A RIMS II Expert Opinion Letter is typically used as an add-on to an Immigration Business Plan – it uses U.S. government data to quantitatively demonstrate the impact of an endeavor.

  1. Help with business launch and transitioning to the U.S.

  1. Via GuidedVenture, you can receive: 1:1 guidance to help launch your business.  GuidedVenture can help with: website design, incorporation, credit card processing, understanding payroll and human resources, marketing communications, and all other aspects of of launching and growing your business.

  1. Using our referral resources both on ProfVal’s referral page and on, you can find jobs, apply for credit cards, and other services to ease your transition to the U.S.

ProfVal, LLC ( is a purpose-driven, professor-founded, and ethically-grounded provider of  resumes, support letters, business / professional plans, and Expert Opinion Letters that can be used to support employment- and trainee-based visas (H-3, H-1B, TN, L1, EB, O). ProfVal is dedicated to helping clients through services built based on an architecture of research. ProfVal is dedicated to helping our communities through our giving site,

(C) ProfVal 2024


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