National Interest Waiver

The national interest waiver green card “waives” the labor certification requirement of a job offer and shortage of U.S. workers.

The chief advantage to the national interest waiver is that it allows the foreign national applicant to self-sponsor. As a result, the applicant may change jobs or even engage in self-employment so long as other conditions are met. There are two types of National Interest Waivers. The first applies to any individual in any occupation but the second applies only to certain physicians.

General National Interest Waiver

To obtain a National Interest Waiver from the employer sponsor and labor certification requirements under this category, the foreign national must hold an advanced degree or demonstrate exceptional ability. In addition, the applicant’s work must (1) have substantial intrinsic merit, (2) be national in scope, and (3) serve the national interest to a substantially greater degree than an equivalent U.S. worker.

Areas of “substantial intrinsic merit” include such things as:

  • Improving the US economy;
  • Improving wages and working conditions for US workers;
  • Improving education and programs for US children and under-qualified workers;
  • Improving health care;
  • Providing more affordable housing;
  • Improving the US environment and making more productive use of natural resources; or
  • A request by an interested government agency.

Want to know more about the national interest waiver and other green card options for top international professionals, check out this video presentation.

Physician National Interest Waiver

Fortunately, Congress has passed special rules regarding National Interest Waivers for physicians who work in VA hospitals or in medically underserved areas. These physicians may obtain permanent residence; provided that they perform full-time medical service in a qualifying facility for five of the six years following the approval of their National Interest Waiver. After the physician has completed all five years of medical service, the DHS will approve the permanent residence application and issue the green card. To the extent the physician has served in an underserved area as part of his J-1 waiver requirements, this time will count towards the five-year requirement.

For more information about the national interest waiver green card program specifically for physicians, visit or click here.

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