What is the Difference Between a Regular EB2 and an EB2 with National Interest Waiver?

What is the Difference Between a Regular EB2 and an EB2 with National Interest Waiver?

What is the Difference Between a Regular EB2 and an EB2 with National Interest Waiver?

They are vastly different in terms of their requirements, processing times, and the documentation required for each. Generally, an EB2 visa or other employment- based visas require a formal employment offer for an applicant to be eligible to apply. Additionally, it requires a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor.

On the other hand, an EB2 with a National Interest Waiver (NIW), does not require an employment offer. The applicant is not required to go through the labor certification process with the Department of Labor -As  long as the petitioner (applicant) can prove that their admittance to the United States would be of national benefit.

The following individuals are eligible to apply for an EB2-NIW:

  • A foreign national who meets the educational requirements (either a masters degree or a bachelor’s degree with at least 5 years of work experience in their field), and
  • A foreign national who meets the three-prong test in Matter of Dhanasar decision listed below:
  1. The proposed endeavor has substantial merit and national importance
  2. The applicant is capable of advancing the proposed endeavor
  3. Substantial benefits for the “national interest” of the United States

What type of evidence can entrepreneurs use to meet the 3 prong test to qualify for a National Interest Waiver?

In January of 2022, The United States introduced policy guidance that specifically recognizes incubator and accelerator participation as an endorsement of the substantial merit of the foreign entrepreneur’s proposed endeavor and the entrepreneur’s own qualifications.  Awards and grants from federal, state, or local government entities with expertise in economic development, R&D, or job creation, are also valuable in showing all three prongs of Dhanasar. The entrepreneur’s ownership interest and/or active and central role as an officer in the U.S. company may also go toward proving that the entrepreneur is well positioned to advance the endeavor. Last but not least, the January 2022 policy guidance instructs USCIS officers to consider growth metrics for the start-up entity as related to revenue generation, job creation in the U.S., and the entrepreneur’s contribution to both.


If you’re interested in participating in our EB2-NIW Startup Investor Visa Program with our internationally recognized incubator, please fill out our online inquiry form located here.


About Empowered Startups
Empowered Startups is an Innovative Startup Incubator and foundry headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With offices in Canada, the United States, France, and Portugal, we train/mentor/ and network entrepreneurs to successfully launch new businesses in diverse markets. As a foundry we also conceive, build and launch our own products and solutions. Our training tools and mentorship are used and recognized by leading global university labs, Startup incubators, and innovation hubs.


EB2 NIW Top 4 FAQ’s

EB2 NIW Top 4 FAQ’s

 Our Top 4 EB2 NIW Frequently Asked Questions

As you can imagine we get quite a few questions about our United States EB2-NIW Startup Investor Program. We thought it would be great to provide clarity on the top 4 that we see over and over again!


What is the EB2-NIW Visa Program?

The EB2-NIW Program is a fast track program for accomplished business people looking to obtain residency in the United States. The EB2 NIW Visa itself is a visa that grants a foreign national lawful permanent residency without the requirement of an employment offer. The job offer requirement is waived if the candidate can prove that his permanent residence in the U.S. would be of “national interest” and would benefit the country. The Empowered Startups EB2 NIW Startup Investor Program matches qualified international applicants with R&D opportunities in their field of expertise. Empowered then secures the required support from a United States research institution, becomes the liaison for the R&D work, and provides business incubation for the startup that the R&D is supporting.


What are the Advantages of the Program?

  • Full concierge service from Empowered to determine the appropriate domain in which you would like to innovate, negotiate and secure your NIW qualifying R&D with a motivated and supporting research institution, as well as coordinate your R&D plan including a partnership with a leading research entity.
  • Empowered Startups will act as your business incubator and liaison for all R&D work.
  • Empowered startups will secure required letters of support from your United States research institution that state why & how your startup is most definitely in the national interest of the United States. 
  • No labor certification is required
  • Families are welcome
  • No language requirement
  • Fully refundable


Who Can Qualify for the EB2 NIW Visa Program?

To successfully obtain an EB2 NIW Visa, an applicant must show:

  • That their proposed endeavor is of “substantial merit and national importance” (Empowered will ensure this is achieved)
  • That they are “well-positioned” to execute their proposed endeavor (Empowered will ensure this is achieved)
  • That, on balance, it would be in the national interest to waive the job offer  (Empowered will ensure this is achieved)

“Substantial merit and national importance” can be shown by starting a venture and conducting R&D  in a variety of different fields including education, health, biotech, pharma, manufacturing, technology, science, and business. The applicant doesn’t need to demonstrate the economic benefits of their work but may, instead, frame their proposal in terms of its broader impact on the social good. Bringing a large number of jobs through opening a new type of factory in an economically struggling region, for example, could be seen as an endeavor of national importance, despite its local scope.

The applicant needs to demonstrate that they are “well-positioned” to successfully execute their project. (Empowered’s incubation program ensures this is made clear to USCIS).

In addition to the above, the applicant must show that they have either the foreign equivalent of an advanced degree or an exceptional ability (this could be a variety of things).

Tip: It’s important to be sure that the advanced degree is actually equivalent to its U.S. counterpart. For example, in certain countries a law degree can be obtained at the baccalaureate level and, therefore, would not be considered an advanced degree. 



When is the best time to apply?

Now. The United States is in the process of rolling out several phases of premium processing for EB2 NIW applications and working on clearing backlogs. The sooner you apply, the sooner you will be eligible for premium processing.


How much does it cost?

The all inclusive price for the program is $175,000 USD – Of which part is invested in Research & Development in a domain in which you have expertise, capitalization for your new company, corporate accounting and legal fees, immigration legal fees, and incubation fees. 


About Empowered Startups
Empowered Startups is an innovative startup incubator and foundry with USA headquarters in Seattle, Washington. With offices in Canada, the United States, and Portugal. We train/mentor/ and network entrepreneurs to successfully launch new businesses in diverse markets. As a foundry we also conceive, build, and launch our own products and solutions. Empowered Startups is recognized internationally by the Canadian Government as a designated start-up business incubator (Canada Startup Visa Program), The Government of Portugal as a key delivery incubator (HQA Visa Program) and The United States Government as a facilitator of startup, R&D, and incubation (for the EB2 NIW Startup Investor Visa Program). Empowered’s team is known internationally for growing ideas into sustainable businesses using both a virtual and on-site model. Our training tools and mentorship are used and recognized by leading global university labs, startup incubators, and innovation hubs.