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A global ongoing healthcare crisis and a change in administration can only signal a new era in Immigration as well. During these unprecedented times for our society, National Interest has been redefined; professionals spanning different fields have become essential for combatting the adverse consequences that have been devastating our economy.

The EB-2 NIW visa has increased in popularity as it is a direct path to permanent legal resident status.  In 2021, there are several trends that we have seen develop in connection with our representation of a variety of clients seeking residence through the EB2 National Interest Waiver.

USCIS Favors Approvals for Professionals Assisting in Alleviating the Consequences of the COVID-19 Crisis 

COVID-19 has rapidly affected our day-to-day life, businesses, disrupted the world trade and movements. Presently the impacts of COVID-19 in daily life are extensive and have far reaching consequences, including healthcare, economic, social, global supply and international mobility. The coronavirus has caused significant shortages in many professions including the following:

  • Healthcare Professionals specializing in resolving challenges in the diagnosis, quarantine and treatment of suspected or confirmed cases;
  • Healthcare Support Staff not meeting the high demand in patients at hospitals;
  • Mental Health Professionals assisting patients in recovering from the emerging psychological distress from the pandemic, as well as from facing long term unemployment;
  • Supply Chain Professionals combatting the disruption of medical, food, and other essential goods supply chain;
  • Data Scientists analyzing COVID-19 as a Big Data Problem. Artificial Intelligence Professionals are absolutely critical in shorting COVID-19 related data including the percentage of vaccinated population, the number of available beds at the hospitals, as well as the vaccine effectiveness towards the new COVID-19 variants;
  • Finance and Business Professionals advising small businesses on how to improve their efficiency, implement a plan for action, and remain in business during the lockdown;
  • Tax Professionals providing guidance to international investors reporting significant reduction in their revenue growth as a result of a discontinuance in national and international business;
  • Information Technology Professionals assessing cyber attacks in businesses and educational institutions that have gone remote;
  • Marketing Specialists that assist small businesses implement innovative digital marketing strategies to attract clientele and boost their profits;
  • Entrepreneurship and the creation of small businesses. Every crisis inspires innovation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, innovation has been critical to keeping many people’s lives and workplaces functioning safely. Dining out at restaurants has been replaced by meal and grocery delivery services, meetings are held via video conferencing, and health care visits are occurring on our screens. Immigration favors innovative business ideas as large e-commerce corporations including Amazon, have monopolized international markets during the lockdown.

USCIS has issued a significant number of approvals for foreign nationals recognizing their contribution in diminishing the catastrophic consequences of this unprecedented healthcare crisis. Now more than ever, it is in the best interest of the United States to retain the most accomplished foreign nationals that will assist our nation recover from the pandemic and regain its global competitiveness. 

USCIS Issues More Requests for Evidence for Foreign Nationals

To assure a fair process so that the most talented foreign educated professionals are granted a National Interest Waiver Approval, the USCIS has intensified the issuance of Requests for Evidence (commonly known as RFE’s). Some of the most common trends in those requests include the following:

  • A solid plan for action in the United States including a business plan, a detailed personal statement, and documentary evidence supporting the foreign national’s plan. Documentary evidence entails letters of interest from U.S. companies or contracts for the provision of services proving that the foreign national is sought-after for his expertise;
  • Evidence of the urgency of the foreign national’s contributions including national initiatives, letters from prospective employers outlining that they were not able to locate smilar talent in the U.S. market; as well as documented shortages from the Department of Labor;
  • Expert Opinion Letters evaluating the foreign national’s proposed endeavor and providing the USCIS with objective testimony regarding the foreign national’s credentials;
  • Proof that the foreign national’s proposed endeavor will generate or preserve employment opportunities for U.S. residents throughout the United States— especially now when unemployment rates are as high as the 2008 depression.

Request for Additional Evidence Even After the Approval of an I-140 EB-2 Petition

It is a common trend that the USCIS now issues Requests for Evidence in the I-485 stage requiring additional information concerning the self-petitioner’s continuous employment in the occupation that is the basis of their National Interest Waiver. Such Requests for Evidence usually require recently dated letters or a paystub from the foreign national’s present employer, ongoing publications or research, and copies of recent awards, among others.

Overall, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver Category is constantly changing keeping up with global challenges in many professional fields.

Elongated but Inconsistent Processing Times

The Texas Service Center currently has a longer processing times than usual for EB-2 NIW visas. The the time this article was written the processing times guide had elongated to over 16 months for standard processing.  However, in our experience, there is a great deal of variability in the processing times of EB-2 NIW Petitions. Though most adjudications are taking over a year, we have had a number of Petitions adjudicated in a far more expeditious time frame – it depends on the adjudicating Officer and other factors. A common misconception is that the EB-2 NIW is actually “faster” than other processes because, as immigrant visas have been current for most, you can also file for the green card and temporary work permit. While that is true and allows you to remain in the U.S. after filing and even begin working with the EAD that does not mean your underlying EB-2 NIW case is more or less approvable. TProper care and planning with your EB-2 NIW attorney are essential.

Experienced EB-2 NIW Visa Attorneys

If you are considering an EB-2 NIW visa, you may be daunted by the prospect of applying.  A skilled EB-2 NIW visa attorney can work with you to ensure that your petition is complete and well-supported.  In addition, a seasoned lawyer can advise you of your immigration options, and counsel you on the best time to file a petition.

At Colombo & Hurd, we represent individuals across the world who seek to immigrate to the United States.  We have significant experience in EB-2 NIW visas and utilize our knowledge to help you file an approvable case.  To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, contact us online or call us at (407) 478-1111 (Orlando), (813) 444-1114 (Tampa) or (305) 455-0590 (Miami).

Carlos Colombo

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