The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a formal request to waive the labor certification requirement one must otherwise meet in order to get an employment-based visa in the United States. It has been in existence for more than 30 years as a way to welcome skilled foreign workers to migrate to the U.S., and promote additional contribution to the U.S. economy. 

If you are a highly experienced engineer considering lawful employment in the U.S., and thus obtaining permanent residence (a green card), an EB-2 NIW for engineers is a great option for you. 

In order to qualify, you will first have to provide evidence that you either hold an advanced degree, or possess exceptional ability in your professional engineering field. However, in addition to meeting the professional qualification, you will need to provide sufficient evidence indicating that it is in the United States’ best interest to waive the labor certification by permitting you to bring your unique skill set to the U.S.’ economic workforce.  

Engineers Can Qualifying for an EB-2 NIW 

The EB-2 NIW is for foreign nationals seeking to get a waiver of the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process. Waiving the requirement means applicants are not required to have a job offer from a U.S.-based employer, and that applicants do not need to have a sponsor apply on their behalf, hence expediting the process. You may also need a recommendation letter for your application.

To begin, here are some of the most in-demand engineering field categories contributing to the progression and revolution of national society:

  • Aerospace
  • Alternative Energy
  • Automation
  • Biomedical
  • Chemical
  • Civil
  • Computer
  • Data Science
  • Electrical
  • Environmental 
  • Food
  • Industrial
  • Mechanical
  • Petroleum 
  • Robotics 
  • Systems

With that being said, there are several requirements the petitioner must meet. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers use a metric system when determining whether the petitioner and their endeavor are substantially beneficial to the U.S. They use the following three-prong test:

  • The applicant’s proposed endeavor is of substantial merit and national importance
  • The applicant is well-positioned to execute their proposed endeavor
  • On balance, it would be in the national interest to waive the job offer and PERM certification requirements

In essence, NIW petitioners are applying for lawful permanent residency in the U.S. (a green card) by way of high-level education and professional experience. The qualification stipulations are as follows:

  1. An advanced degree: A Master's, Ph.D., other post-baccalaureate degree (or a Bachelor's degree and five years of experience), or a foreign equivalent advanced degree
  2. Exceptional ability: Evidence proving three or more of the following:
  • Official academic records of a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from an institution of higher learning
  • Letter(s) that document 10 or more years of full-time experience
  • A license or certification to practice his or her profession
  • Documented evidence of a salary or other remuneration that demonstrate exceptional ability in the applicant’s field
  • Membership in one or more professional associations (that require high achievements for membership consideration)
  • Recognition for the applicant’s achievements or significant contributions to their industry, from peers, governmental, business or professional entities or organizations
  • Any other comparable  evidence of eligibility

In addition to that, NIW petitioners need to include their plans for the future activities in their field, and the successful progress they have made toward their proposed endeavor. Their case is made even stronger when they can provide documentary evidence of any applicable interest they have garnered from governmental entities, prospective investors and/or potential users.

Again, receipt of an EB-2 NIW is based on the determination of the adjudicating officer — that it is in the best interest of the U.S. as a whole. Though, oftentimes an applicant can contend that their work benefits a smaller, more specific geographic region. In short, the engineer petitioning for the waiver must prove they are undeniably qualified, are offering their highly-skilled talent to the country, and that they aren’t seeking immigration benefits merely to live and work in the U.S. for self-serving reasons.

Aside from seeing an expedited petition process (as opposed to other employment-based visa applications), another benefit is that the EB-2 NIW petitioner and their dependents such as their spouse, or children younger than 21, will gain automatic lawful permanent residency in the United States upon approval of their NIW petition.

If you are an engineer looking to get an EB-2 NIW, you may want to review our guide on how to prepare for the EB-2 NIW interview.

Substantial Merit for EB-2 NIW Engineers

Engineering fields are essential to the sustainment and advancement of the country’s competitiveness in the world, therefore it is equally beneficial for foreign engineers to bring their expertise to the U.S.

Though the list below is by no means an exhaustive one, it outlines the qualities that not only demonstrate that the engineer is well-positioned to advance the work in their professional field, but also proves their endeavor is substantially merited.

Engineers seeking an EB-2 NIW can prove their future endeavor will most likely be successful, and their skills are unique by demonstrating any of the following, though the more, the better:

  • Records of past projects, or the uniqueness of new projects (especially to the U.S.)
  • Receipt of public recognition for work in their professional field
  • Past and/or future contributions to innovation across multiple societal components
  • Forecasts of industry problems, while offering solutions and prevention
  • Proposals for chemical plant safety
  • The designing, development and/or manufacturing of technologies or infrastructures
  • Improved functionality of robotics and/or artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Production improvements by increase efficiency(ies)
  • Accelerating conversions
  • Cost reduction via advanced analysis
  • Reduce the risk of obsolescence within the field
  • Advanced and streamlined processes in medical advancements
  • Advanced healthcare technology recommendations
  • Major conservation(s)
  • Solid efforts of job creation within the U.S. 
  • Substantial business plans and financial projections

Any record of a combined package of a higher education degree, unique knowledge and extraordinary abilities within the field lend to a stronger waiver petition. Petitioners can also demonstrate any of the above by supplying evidence of any unique award(s), certifications or global recognition for his or her professional achievements. All of this, in conjunction with letters of recommendation from an employer(s), acknowledging recent and major success within the field increases the likelihood of the petitioner obtaining an NIW, and thus a green card.

At the present time, the waiver petition processing time is around two years, though premium processing reduces this time down to one month.

There is another visa called the EB-2, but it is different from the EB-2 NIW. Make sure you are researching the proper visa program for you and your family.

FAQs for Engineers Seeking The EB-2 NIW

What is the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) and who is eligible to apply for it?

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a pathway for highly skilled foreign engineers to obtain lawful permanent residence (a green card) in the United States without needing a job offer or labor certification. To qualify, applicants must hold an advanced degree or possess exceptional ability in their engineering field. Additionally, they must demonstrate that their work will significantly benefit the U.S. economy or society, making it in the national interest to waive the labor certification requirement.


What are the main criteria that an engineer needs to meet to apply for an EB-2 NIW?

  1. Educational Qualifications: Hold an advanced degree (such as a Master's or Ph.D.), a Bachelor's degree plus five years of progressive experience, or a foreign equivalent.
  2. Exceptional Ability: Provide evidence of exceptional ability in their field, which can include:
    • Official academic records.
    • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience.
    • Licenses or certifications to practice in their profession.
    • Evidence of a high salary or remuneration.
    • Membership in professional associations.
    • Recognition for significant contributions to the industry.
  3. National Interest: Prove that their work is of substantial merit and national importance, they are well-positioned to advance their proposed endeavor, and it is in the U.S. national interest to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements.

What advantages does an EB-2 NIW offer to engineers and their families?

The EB-2 NIW offers several significant benefits:

  1. No Job Offer Required: Engineers do not need a job offer from a U.S. employer, nor do they need an employer to sponsor their application.
  2. Expedited Process: The waiver expedites the green card application process compared to other employment-based visas.
  3. Permanent Residency for Family: Upon approval, the petitioner and their dependents (spouse and children under 21) gain lawful permanent residency in the U.S.
  4. Career Advancement: It allows engineers to advance their careers in the U.S., leveraging their skills and contributing to critical fields.
  5. National Benefit: The process benefits the U.S. by attracting top-notch talent, which contributes to economic and societal advancements.


Conclusion For EB-2 NIW for Engineers

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver for Engineers opens a viable route for highly skilled engineers to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. With advanced educational accomplishments and professional competencies, they can succeed in petitioning for a waiver of labor certification. This process not only aids their migration but also benefits the U.S. By drawing top-notch talent into critical fields, the country gains valuable contributions to its economy and society.

Engineers can leverage their skills and potential contributions to make a compelling case. The waiver thus becomes a strategic option for them to further their careers. In turn, this significantly benefits the national interest. Overall, the EB-2 NIW offers a mutually advantageous pathway, bringing together exceptional talent and the nation’s need for expertise in vital areas.