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National Interest(NIW)
Requirements | Information | Processing Time
Both professionals with advanced degrees and people with exceptional ability may seek waivers of the job offer requirement if their immigration could be deemed in the "national interest." Waiver of the job offer means the applicant is exempt from obtaining a labor certification and does not need an employer in the United States to file a petition. Since the national interest waiver is filed by the applicant, and not by the employer, it is his or her sole property and remains valid regardless of the applicant's employment status.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations do not define the term "national interest." The introduction to the employment-based immigrants regulations expressly say that the term "national interest" is flexible. In a number of AAU decisions, the INS has said that the following criteria may be used to determine national interest, but not all of the criteria need to be met:

  1. Improving the U.S. economy.
  2. Improving wages and working conditions of U.S. workers;
  3. Improving education and training programs for U.S. children and under-qualified workers;
  4. Improving health care;
  5. Providing more affordable housing for young and/or older, poorer U.S. residents;
  6. Improving the environment of the United States and making more productive use of natural resources; or
  7. A request from an interested U.S. Government agency.
The more factors that an applicant may prove, the better are his/her chances of having the petition approved. One must also show that he/she will be working in the United States in the sciences, arts, professions or business. National Interest does not connote benefiting the nation as a whole; a benefit to a locality is sufficient.
The fifth employment-based preference is set-aside for alien investors in new commercial enterprises. This category is allotted 10,000 visas per year, and generally requires that the investor invest or be actively in the process of investing at least $1 million in the enterprise. This figure can change depending on the area of the investment. For example, an investment in a "targeted employment areas" may be as low as $500,000 while "high employment areas" may require an investment as high as $3 million.

A. First Preference. Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and children of unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (unmarried at the time of filling). The numerical limit from 54,000 to 23,400.

B. Second Preference. Spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents. The numerical limit from 70,200 to 114,200. IMMACT 90 allocates the 114,200 visas as follows: Spouses and children - 77% (87,934 minimum) Unmarried sons and daughters - 23% (26,266 minimum) (also includes children of unmarried sons and daughters)

C. Third Preference. This category was the former fourth preference and includes married sons and daughters of citizens and their children. The numerical limit was changed from 27,000 to 23,400.

D. Fourth Preference. This category was the former fifth preference and includes brothers and sisters 21 years of age or over, spouses and children of brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and legalized aliens. The numerical limit was changed from 64,800 to 65,600.
Processing Time
Currently, the processing time for employment based permanent residence is approximately 12 to 24 months depending on the state the case is filed.
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