National Interest Waiver: Advanced Degree Requirement and Relevant Documentation

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a provision within the United States immigration policy that allows certain individuals to obtain permanent residency if their entry into the country is deemed to be in the national interest. One of the critical components of qualifying for an NIW is demonstrating exceptional ability in a particular field. Among the requirements, holding an advanced degree or higher is often essential. This article will delve into the specific requirements related to advanced degrees and the types of evidence that must be provided to meet these criteria.

Advanced Degree Requirement: 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(k)(3)(ii)(A)

Under the Code of Federal Regulations (8 C.F.R. § 204.5(k)(3)(ii)(A)), an applicant must present an official academic record demonstrating the attainment of a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from an accredited institution of learning. This documentation must be pertinent to the area of exceptional ability the applicant is claiming.

Ownership Percentage

If applicable, show the ownership percentage of the U.S. company by the foreign parent company. This demonstrates the level of control and affiliation between the two entities.
For instance, in a recent case, the Petitioner provided evidence of completing a human resources management course at a public university in Brazil in 2013. The Petitioner explained how this academic certificate was relevant to their work in "Public Security." The Director agreed that this certificate met the requirements stipulated by 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(k)(3)(ii)(A), as the academic achievement was directly related to the Petitioner's field of expertise and demonstrated their exceptional ability in the domain.

Full-Time Experience: 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(k)(3)(ii)(B)

In addition to academic qualifications, the regulations also require evidence of at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation for which the applicant is being sought (8 C.F.R. § 204.5(k)(3)(ii)(B)). This experience must be substantiated through letters from current or former employers. These letters need to detail the specific duties performed by the individual and confirm the full-time nature of their employment.
In the same case, the Director initially concluded that the Petitioner met this requirement by submitting a translated certification that attested to 11 years and 9 months of service provided to the police force in Brazil. However, upon closer examination, it was noted that the certification failed to explicitly state that the employment was full-time. Furthermore, the document did not include a detailed description of the duties performed by the Petitioner, as mandated by 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(g)(1).
Due to these deficiencies, the Director's determination that the Petitioner met the full-time experience requirement was withdrawn. The regulation clearly stipulates that mere length of service is insufficient; comprehensive details of the employment nature and specific job responsibilities are necessary to satisfy the requirement.


To successfully obtain a National Interest Waiver, it is imperative that applicants meticulously adhere to the requirements set forth in the regulations. This includes providing robust evidence of advanced academic achievements relevant to their field of exceptional ability and thoroughly documenting their full-time professional experience with detailed job descriptions. Ensuring compliance with these criteria enhances the likelihood of a favorable determination by immigration authorities.
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