EB 2 National Interest Waiver Visa: How Business Owners Can Get a Green Card
If you are a business owner and want to get a green card or immigrant visa to the United States, there are several ways to do this. One of them is to prove that your business will work for the benefit of society. Then you may qualify for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver visa. For some reason, few people know about this path, but in vain, because it is quite simple and effective. Immigration lawyer Tatyana Aristova calls it “the best-kept secret in US immigration law.” In a conversation with ForumDaily, she revealed some of the nuances of obtaining an EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW).
The EB2 visa is an immigrant visa, meaning it gives you the right to live permanently in the United States. To understand the term National Interest Waiver, you need to know that in the US immigration system there is one logical rule - a person can receive a green card if a potential employer files a petition against him and proves that he could not find a similar specialist in the United States. With this option, a person receives a green card on the basis of employment confirmed by the so-called labor certification. This is a rather complicated process, so not all employers are ready to do this. But people who fall under the National Inrest Waiver can do without it.
“The word Waiver itself means that you are allowed not to do something. In this case, you are applying for a green card without an employer's request, on the basis that you are offering America some very useful endeavor. It could be either a commercial enterprise or even a non-profit that will benefit America on a national scale.”, - tells immigration lawyer Tatyana Aristova.
What You Need to Obtain an EB-2 National Interest Waiver Immigrant Visa
On the EB-2 National Interest Waiver Different categories of people whose work is of national interest to the United States may apply, for example:
- high-class specialists with higher education (scientific degree above bachelor's), in particular, holders of master's degrees, Ph.D. and so on.;
- professionals with a bachelor's degree and at least 5 years of work experience in their specialty;
- people with exceptional ability in science, art, business or other fields.
Your education, experience and achievements must be documented (resume, diplomas, letters of recommendation, awards, etc.).
To qualify for EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) based on exceptional ability, must meet at least three out of six criteria:
- a higher education diploma or similar documents in the field where you have demonstrated exceptional abilities;
- at least ten years of work experience in the specialty;
- licenses giving the right to work in the specialty;
- proof that you received exceptionally high pay for work involving the use of your exceptional abilities;
- membership in professional associations;
- achievements and significant contributions to your field of activity.
“In any case, the person must also show that he offers America something very useful, and that this usefulness will be on a broad national scale. From all this, the US immigration authorities conclude that a person does not need to go through the procedure of obtaining a labor certificate, and, accordingly, he can receive a green card without going through this procedure.”,” lawyer Tatyana Aristova shares her experience.
Who can apply for EB2 NIW: not only scientists, but also marketers, owners of cargo transportation companies, online schools, online stores
An immigration lawyer says: their company has been successfully processing EB-2 NIW visas and green cards for its clients since 2000. They help each client individually prove that their business can bring significant benefits to the United States.
"Of course, this is not suitable for all entrepreneurs. If a person has a small business, for example, he sells pizza, then this can hardly be positioned as a business that brings benefit on a national scale. However, there are many businesses with the potential to develop and eventually reach the national level, says Tatiana. – For example, these could be businesses related to cargo transportation or online stores. We are often contacted by people who have their own online schools - on any subject, from makeup school to language or mathematics teaching. Online startups also fit well into this category. Or a person may have, for example, his own marketing agency that helps other businesses develop.”
In fact, according to the lawyer, in many areas a person can prove that his activities will be useful to America and receive a green card through business. For example, among those who received a green card in Tatyana’s practice is a dentist who invented a new type of dental crown. He patented his invention in the United States - and received a green card. But still, according to her, their most frequent clients are now owners of online businesses and startups.
What if the person is already in the USA?
The EB-2 NIW visa can be applied for from abroad or while already in the United States. In the first case, applicants have more risks, because the EB-2 visa is an immigrant visa, which means applying for it automatically deprives the applicant of the opportunity to apply for non-immigrant visas to the United States.
“The filing of this application expresses the person's immigration intentions. Therefore, if, for example, he submits an application unsuccessfully, then he will not be able to apply for any non-immigrant visas. Therefore, you need to approach things responsibly. Don’t just give in for luck”, – lawyer Aristova shares his experience.
The second group of potential applicants are people who are already in the United States. This could be, for example, students.
“This is a good option for people who already have a higher education and came to the USA to take English language courses. Often they have no chance to change their migration situation. But if they propose a nationally significant business concept, they may be able to qualify for the EB2 NIW. This method of obtaining a green card is also worth paying attention to for students who have received a master's or bachelor's degree here. They typically only have 60 days after graduation to find a job. If they don't do this, they will lose their status. For them, creating their own business that meets the National Interest Waiver criteria may also be a way out.”, explains lawyer Aristova.
Switching to an EB-2 visa with NIW may also be of interest to those in the United States on various nonimmigrant visas, and even to asylum seekers. If they are still awaiting an interview and their asylum case has not yet been brought to immigration court, they may want to consider filing a National Interest Waiver. But each such situation needs to be discussed with a lawyer individually, since there are many nuances that affect the possibility of obtaining an EB2 NIW visa.
How to Know if a Business Is Eligible for the EB-2 NIW Visa
The advantage of the EB2 NIW visa is that to obtain it you do not need to show the profitability of the business. The main thing is to prove that this business can benefit the United States.
“Business can benefit healthcare, education, the environment, and housing construction. Business can introduce something innovative. A business can even simply create competitive diversity in the market. Business can be somehow socially oriented. You can prove that you can bring serious value without investing a lot of money. Nowadays, with the help of the Internet, this is quite possible.”, - tells Tatyana Aristova.
The lawyer gives an example: someone came up with their own method of teaching something. This person opens his own online school and successfully teaches teachers from other schools how to apply this technique. Then this business can be called bringing national benefit.
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“Quite a lot of our clients come here and create their own businesses, for example, in freight transportation. A person starts with one car, then he gets more trucks. He begins to participate in some serious government programs. Such a person can definitely qualify for the National Interest Waiver. And such people quite often receive green cards with our help. But here it is important to understand that a person should not just be a truck driver, he should be the owner of a transport company.”, says Tatiana.
According to her, you can only understand for sure whether your business has a chance of becoming useful at the national level only after a personal consultation. IN Tatiana's office it's paid - $100. According to the lawyer, in this way they cut off people who are not serious - and as a result, they work only with results-oriented clients.
How long will you have to wait for a green card?
The process of reviewing documents at the Immigration Service takes about a year. You can pay USCIS an additional $2500 and apply for expedited processing. Then a decision can be made in just 45 days. However, Tatyana does not advise going this route - then the officer will not have enough time to study the applicant’s case, and this increases the likelihood of refusal.
The time to obtain a green card is on average about 2-2,5 years. But no one can name the exact deadlines, because they depend on the total number of applicants, that is, on the queue. According to Tatyana, they advise counting on at least two years.
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