If you are applying for an EB-2 visa under a National Internal Waiver (NIW), the process and criteria are a little different than the other categories. Foreign nationals seeking an NIW are essentially requesting that the labor certification process be waived because their employment in the US would greatly benefit the nation. Furthermore, those seeking NIWs may self-petition their Form I-140—meaning, they do not need a job offer or a US employer to sponsor them. NIWs are typically sought by researchers, Ph.D. students, and other advanced degree professionals who seek to work in under-served areas.
When applying under an NIW, you must produce at least 3 of the criteria above and demonstrate that it is in the national interest that you work permanently in the US. The decision in Matter of Dhanasar (2016) establishes the three-prong approach that the USCIS takes when determining whether the applicant may be granted an NIW:
“USCIS may grant a NIW if the petitioner demonstrates: (1) that the foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; (2) that he or she is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and (3) that, on balance, it would be beneficial to the US to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements.”
The key concepts to take away from NIWs are that the employment that you seek to practice must be nationally beneficial and that advantages of waiving labor certification and a job offer outweigh the benefits of not waiving them.
Some examples of evidence that the Service has considered as nationally beneficial include improvement of the economy, environment, education, and healthcare. Proof of awards, government funding, or publications that others in your field rely on may be helpful to your case, too. Processing time for NIW applications varies for each case. Once you have successfully obtained your NIW, you will still need to wait until your priority date becomes current to apply to adjust status for a green card.