Discussion of the NEW NIW EB-2 Eligibility Standard in Matter of Dhanasar

In this video attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick discusses the new decision in Matter of Dhanasar, 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO 2016) handed down by the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) which has changed the analytical framework for determining eligibility of national interest waivers. This new decision will affect foreign nationals who are pursuing a green card based on employment in the EB-2 category, and who are eligible for a “national interest waiver.”

The new decision reached in Dhanasar, will invalidate and replace the three prong-test established in the prior AAO landmark decision reached in Matter of New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDoT), a case which governed the adjudication of national interest waivers since 1998.

The new three-prong test established by Matter of Dhanasar is a more flexible standard that will allow a broader population of foreign nationals in the EB-2 category to qualify for the discretionary national interest waiver. Under the new test, the EB-2 petitioner must meet all criteria established by the new test by a preponderance of the evidence. USCIS must determine whether on the whole the petitioner demonstrated by strong evidence that the requirements for the discretionary waiver were met.

The NEW three prong-test established by Matter of Dhanasar is as follows:

  1. The foreign national’s proposed endeavor must have both substantial merit and national importance. Dhanasar indicates that under this first criterion, a wide number of employment fields may qualify for a discretionary waiver such as: business, entrepreneurialism, science, technology, culture, health and education.  Dhanasar does not require that the petitioner show that the endeavor will bring immediate or quantifiable economic benefit to the United States. Providing such evidence however may help meet the preponderance of the evidence standard to the petitioner’s benefit.  Under this criterion, the petitioner is still required to show that the proposed endeavor has “national importance,” or is “national in scope” as in Matter of New York State Department of Transportation. Endeavors that may be considered as being national in scope are those that have a significant potential impact for job creation or substantial potential for economic growth, and which are focused in an “economically depressed area” such as an area of unemployment, or economically disadvantaged region.
  1. The foreign national must be well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.This criterion will be analyzed by assessing the foreign national’s education, skills, knowledge and proven record of success in related or similar efforts. Other ways in which this prong can be proven is by providing a model, diagram, or plan for future activities, evidence of progress in reaching the endeavor, and evidence demonstrating interested stakeholders. The petitioner does not need to assess whether the endeavor will succeed.
  1. On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements of the EB-2 category. In assessing this prong, the endeavor’s importance will be weighed against the national interest and be based upon the overall benefit the United States will receive from the foreign national’s contributions. USCIS may also consider other factors to determine whether granting the discretionary waiver would be beneficial to the United States taking into consideration whether there are any qualified U.S. workers who can undertake the endeavor, and whether there is a sufficient national interest to justify a waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirement.

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If you have questions about this new decision contact us for a free consultation.

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