How to get a Green Card for Engineers through the EB-2 National Interest Waiver?

Did you know that you can apply for a green card without a job offer or even sponsorship from a U.S. employer?

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you all you need to know about the EB-2 National Interest Waiver, an employment-based green card option for professionals who are working in an area of national importance to the United States government.

This video focuses specifically on how engineering professionals can qualify for the National Interest Waiver, which is one of the most popular ways to obtain permanent residence in the U.S.

For more information, please keep on watching.


If you are an engineer that has earned an advanced degree (baccalaureate or higher) or have exceptional ability in your field of engineering, then you may be eligible to self-petition for a green card by applying for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver.

Unlike the EB-3 employment-based green card which requires employment sponsorship, the EB-2 National interest Waiver allows an individual to self-petition for their green card.

This provides applicants with the freedom and flexibility to apply for permanent residence on their own without having to undergo the lengthy labor certification process with a U.S. employer.

Due to this flexibility, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver has become a very popular option among professionals, especially engineers with degrees in the STEM fields who are working in areas that advance the national interest of the United States such as occupations supporting emerging technologies, cybersecurity, robotics, aerospace, biomedicine, etc.

Additionally, favorable policy guidance handed down by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as executive orders signed into law by the Biden administration have made it easier for STEM degree holders to qualify for the National Interest Waiver.

Engineering Professionals with STEM Degrees

In 2022, USCIS updated its EB-2 policy guidelines announcing unique considerations for EB-2 NIW applicants holding STEM degrees.  Among them, USCIS recognized the essential role of persons with advanced STEM degrees especially in “focused critical and emerging technologies,” or other STEM fields that are important to advancing U.S. competitiveness or national security.

Critical and Emerging Technologies List

The following critical and emerging technologies have been found to be of particular importance to the national security of the United States:

  • Advanced Computing
  • Advanced Engineering Materials
  • Advanced Gas Turbine Engine Technologies
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Advanced and Networked Sensing and Signature Management
  • Advanced Nuclear Energy Technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Autonomous Systems and Robotics
  • Biotechnologies
  • Communication and Networking Technologies
  • Directed Energy
  • Financial Technologies
  • Human-Machine Interfaces
  • Hypersonics
  • Networked Sensors and Sensing
  • Quantum Information Technologies
  • Renewable Energy Generation and Storage
  • Semiconductors and Microelectronics
  • Space Technologies and Systems

What are the NIW Requirements?

To be eligible for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver, applicants must demonstrate that they fall under one of the following two subcategories:

1)      The applicant must possess an Advanced Degree (bachelor’s degree or higher) in their field of expertise; or

2)      Exceptional Ability in their field of expertise

An Advanced Degree is defined, generally speaking, as a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressive experience in the field measured from the date of graduation. Applicant’s may also qualify if they possess a master’s or doctoral degree in their field.

Applicants who do not have an advanced degree may still qualify if they can demonstrate that they possess “Exceptional Ability,” in their field. Under the law “exceptional ability,” means that the applicant has a “degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”

For those that do not have an advanced degree, exceptional ability is demonstrated by meeting at least three of the criteria indicated below:

  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters from current or former employers documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

NIW Dhanasar Criteria

Once an applicant has demonstrated that he or she qualifies based on their advanced degree or exceptional ability, they must also meet a 3-prong test known as the Dhanasar criteria to prove their eligibility for the National Interest Waiver.

The Dhanasar criteria are as follows:

  • The applicant’s proposed endeavor must have both substantial merit and national importance
  • The applicant must be well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor and
  • It must be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and thus the permanent labor certification requirements.

The first prong is met by demonstrating that your proposed endeavor is of national importance to the government, for example by showing it is a critical or emerging field that is of particular national importance to U.S. competitiveness or national security.

The second prong is met by demonstrating that you have the requisite academic background and work experience to advance the proposed endeavor. A major component to this prong is presenting letters of recommendation from top experts in your field attesting to your qualifications and expertise.

Finally, the third prong is met by showing the following:

  • It would be impractical either for the foreign national to secure a job offer or to obtain a labor certification through employment sponsorship
  • Assuming that other qualified U.S. workers are available, the U.S. would still benefit from the foreign national’s contributions in the proposed endeavor
  • The national interest in the foreign national’s contributions is sufficiently urgent to warrant forgoing the labor certification process

Our attorneys work closely with engineering professionals to assess their background and develop a successful strategy that will satisfy the National Interest Waiver criteria to the satisfaction of the immigration officer.

If you would like to schedule a consultation with us to evaluate whether you qualify for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver, we invite you to contact us below.

Contact Us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-569-1768 or call 619-819-9204.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.