Exceptional Ability, Advanced Degree, or an Advanced-Degree Equivalent: You Need One for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver

Satisfying the standard to merit a National Interest Waiver, the waiver itself, draws a lot of attention and distracts from other aspects of the total EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) case, including an equally important aspect, whether you qualify for the EB-2 preference category in the first place.

It’s important to remember that the EB-2 NIW case is a multi-step dance.

Let’s look at the steps of this dance.

  • You must qualify for membership, so to speak, in the EB-2 category,
  • You must show you merit the National Interest Waiver,
  • You must be eligible to apply for adjustment of status and you must not be inadmissible (assuming you are in the United States), or (if you are abroad) you must not be inadmissible.

The step–that people give short shrift to–is the first one. The first step requires you to show one of a few things. You must show that

  • You are a professional who holds a US academic degree (or a foreign equivalent) above a bachelor’s degree level.
  • You are a professional who holds a bachelor’s degree and has at least five years of progressive experience in your field.
  • You have exceptional ability or expertise in the sciences, arts, sports, or business–ability or expertise significantly above that which would be ordinarily encountered in your field.

(Remember that if a doctoral degree is customarily required by the specialty, you must have a US doctorate or a foreign equivalent degree. Also, remember that Master’s degrees obtained from a US institution must be obtained from an accredited US institution.)

Nothing else makes up the first step in this dance. And the first step is required. Without the first step of the dance, you ain’t got a dance.