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Frequently Asked Questions


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Q: What are the requirements for National Interest Waiver (NIW) I-140 petition?

A: The petitioner of a National Interest Waiver (NIW) immigrant petition must prove that the beneficiary of the petition meets three criteria:

1. Intrinsic merits of the beneficiary's work;

2. National scope of the benefits of the beneficiary's work; and

3. National interest would be adversely affected if the beneficiary were required to obtain a labor certification for the green card application.

The beneficiary must be a member of the profession holding an advanced degree (at least a Master's degree or credential equivalent to a Master's degree) or has exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. The petitioner may submit any relevant supporting materials to prove the above. Typical supporting materials include publications, awards, memberships, media report, peer recommendations, etc.

Q: What kind of people can apply for National Interest Waiver (NIW)?

A: As long as one has at least a Master's degree or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, nobody is explicitly excluded from applying for National Interest Waiver (NIW). Most NIW applicants are researchers in science and technology in universities or the industry, including postdoctoral fellows, J-1 visiting scholars, engineers, Ph.D. students.

Q: What are the requirements for Alien of Extraordinary Ability (EB1a) I-140 petition?

A: The petitioner must submit evidence that the beneficiary has a one-time achievement (major internationally recognized award, e.g. Nobel Prize, Academy Award, Olympic Medal) in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Alternatively, the petitioner can submit evidence that the beneficiary has at least three of the following ten:

1. receipt of lesser nationally or international recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;

2. membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements as judged by recognized national or international experts;

3. published material about the beneficiary in professional or major trade publications or other major media;

4. participation on a panel or individually as judge of the work of others in the field or an allied field;

5. original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;

6. authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media;

7. display of the beneficiary's work at artistic exhibitions or showcases;

8. the beneficiary has performed in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have distinguished reputations;

9. the beneficiary has commanded a high salary or other high remuneration for services;

10. the beneficiary has commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

Q: What kind of people can apply as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability (EB1a)?

A: Regardless of education background, nobody is explicitly excluded from this category. Most applicants are researchers, professors, authors, musicians, artists, singers, conductors, composers, caligraphers, painters, directors, actors, athletes, martial arts masters, Qi Gong masters, models, inventors, entrepreneurs, etc.

Q: When can J-1 visiting scholars start applying for the green card?

A: J-1 visiting scholars who are subject to the two year home country residence requirement can start applying for the green card even before they obtain the J-1 waiver approval (different from the National Interest Waiver immigrant petition). Specifically, J-1 visiting scholars can submit the I-140 immigrant petition before their J-1 waiver application is approved. The only application they can not yet submit is the I-485 adjustment of status application package, including the I-765 employment authorization and I-131 advance parole applications, which can be submitted after the J-1 waiver is approved. Most J-1 visiting scholars qualify for the National Interest Waiver (NIW) or Alien of Extraordinary Ability (EB1a) immigrant petitions.

Q: What is I-140/I-485 concurrent filing?

A: USCIS allows employment-based I-140 immigrant petitions to be filed along with the I-485 adjustment of status application package as long as the immigrant visa numbers are available for the preference. I-131 advance parole and I-765 employment authorization applications can also be filed concurrently.

Q: What is so good about concurrent filing?

A: It mainly allows USCIS to streamline and shorten the processing times of I-485, I-131 and I-765 applications. In some cases, applicants can get the advance parole and employment authorization documents about 3 months after filing I-140.