Professional holding an advanced degree

I am a professional holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years experience in my profession.

There is special employment-based immigrant visa for “members of the professions” holding advanced degrees. To qualify as a “member of the professions” you must possess any U.S. academic or professional degree (or foreign equivalent degree) above that of baccalaureate. For all intents and purposes, this means the equivalent of a U.S. masters degree or above. If the profession requires a degree higher than a master’s degree, then you must possess that degree. (The BCIS [formerly “INS”] has stated that a U.S. or equivalent foreign baccalaureate, followed by at least 5 years of progressive experience in the specialty, will be the equivalent to a master’s degree.)

Under this category, one normally must have a job offer and obtain a labor certification for the proposed position. However, you may be able to avoid the requirement of a labor certification or job offer under the following circumstances: a.) you will be employed as a licensed physical therapist or as a fully-licensed professional nurse; or b.) you can demonstrate that your admission would be in the national interest (“national interest waiver”)

Adjudication of national interest waiver matters is done on a case-by-case basis. Interestingly, neither the (“INA”) nor the applicable regulations define the term “national interest”. Nevertheless, supplementary information to the regulations implementing the (“IMMACT 90”) state that the application of this test should be as flexible as possible.

In the case of , EAC 92-091-50126 (AAU July 21, 1992), the Administrative Appeals Unit set out certain guidelines for evaluating cases requesting waivers in the national interest. Specifically, if it can be demonstrated that allowing you to enter the United States would improve the United States economy; improve wages and working conditions of U.S. workers; improve education and training programs for U.S. children and other qualified workers; improve health care; provide more affordable housing for young and/or older poorer U.S. residents; improve the U.S. environment and making more productive use of natural resources; or involves a request from an interested government agency; then you stand a fair chance of obtaining a national interest waiver.

However, according to a more restrictive recent precedent decision, your application must also demonstrate that you will seek employment in an area of “substantial intrinsic merit”; that the proposed benefit will be national in scope (rather than simply regional or local); and that the national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification were required of you.

The standard is much lower for foreign physicians who agree to work full time in a designated health professional shortage area or in VA hospital, where as federal agency or State department of public health has determined that the physician’s work is in the public interest. The physician may not be eligible for a green card until he has worked full time for 5 years as a physician in a shortage area or VA hospital (not including time spent in J-1 status).

Applicants for National Interest Waivers must present extensive documentation detailing the nature of their education, experience, and the potential contribution to the National Interest. Ortega-Medina & Associates can help you determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for this type of application. If you are, our firm will be able to help you present the strongest case possible to substantially increase your success in obtaining your immigrant visa.