Attorney fees for a national interest waiver green card can be pricey. Even when you are self-petitioning for an EB-2 NIW yourself, you are still faced with the $700 Form I-140 filing fee for USCIS.
Lucky for you, there are some things that you can do to prepare for your NIW petition that are free or low-cost. For example, you might be able to show that you are well positioned through memberships without spending too much money.
Well positioned through memberships
Whether a foreign national is applying for the EB2 NIW or the EB1A extraordinary ability green card, one of the categories that can be established fairly easily is memberships.
Becoming a member of a professional organization, or more than one, might be an excellent way to show a broad network of colleagues in the United States. Of course, the topic of this article is to discuss how to do so without spending too much money. When professional organization dues are less expensive, an EB-2 NIW candidate may be more apt to join more than one organization.
Searching for what professional organization is appropriate for one’s career may involve some internet browsing. Tying “free membership professional organizations” in the search bar can lead to websites like Job Stars can lead to lists of professional memberships by career category.
Finding low-cost organizations to join that have the word “National” or “American” in their name can be a bonus. This can be one method to show that one is well positioned in the United States in an obvious manner.
There is another step...
National interest waiver seekers should not forget to search for the bylaws and include them with your petition. Along with the membership card or the “welcome to the group email,” an EB-2 NIW candidate can also attached bylaws of the professional organization to their green card petition as supporting evidence.
Locating the membership requirements, ethical standards, and grounds for disqualification in the bylaws of the professional group can help to establish that they require outstanding achievements of their members.
Communicate with your EB2 NIW Lawyer
Whether you are working with a national interest waiver attorney near you, or one whom you have retained through a remote law firm, it can be wise to communicate your current memberships with professional organizations, so that they can be used as evidence for your green card petition.
Your EB-2 NIW lawyer may be willing to brainstorm with you about some memberships in your industry that might be appropriate for your green card case.
With the current USCIS backlog the way that it has been since 2020, you might be wondering what the processing time will be for your EB-2 National Interest Waiver case. In the past the processing time for the EB-2 NIW was five to nine months, but things have changed, just as life as we know it is drastically different.
If you are a curious person, you might also ponder how the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service estimates what the case processing time will be. Although this knowledge will not likely make the processing time faster, at least you will be aware of how this estimate is determined.
History of USCIS Case Processing Time Estimation
USCIS has changed the way that they calculate average case handling timelines for some types of cases, including the EB2 NIW.
The Old Way
From 2009 through 2017, USCIS would use the “cycle time” method for all cases. They would take into account the entire group of receipt and pending case counts.
The way that USCIS explains it is that “Cycle time is the number of previous months of receipts it takes to equal the current month’s pending receipt volume.” They still use the cycle time method for determining average case processing times for some types of cases and forms, including the following:
The Updated Way
For purposes of the EB-2 NIW and subsequent adjustment of status, national interest waiver beneficiaries should be aware that in 2018 USCIS started using the “processing time” methodology.
For the Form I-140 that is mailed to USCIS with the EB2 NIW petition letter, as well as the I-485 (adjustment of status) and I-765 (work authorization/EAD), case processing times are calculated using the new method. That means that in a concurrent filing for an EB-2 NIW, only the Form I-131 for a travel document would be subject to the “cycle time” methodology for computing the processing time.
How is the EB-2 NIW case processing time calculated?
When it comes to estimating the processing time for the national interest waiver, the EB-2 NIW is subject to the “processing time” methodology. This method for calculating NIW processing time tends to be more precise as it uses more recent data to determine the date range.
The service provides an estimated time range for when the case should have been processed, as well as a receipt date for which a beneficiary can submit a case inquiry if they have not received notice from USCIS. The lower number in the time range is the period that it generally takes to process 50% of the cases; whereas, the higher number is the number of months that it takes USCIS to process 93% of that type of case.
Be sure to share your current status and plans with your attorney
If you are not self-petitioning for your EB-2 NIW immigrant visa, then you are likely working with an immigration lawyer in your area or virtually. It can be prudent to share your current status with your green card attorney at the beginning of your case, as well as when your status will expire.
That way you can plan around EB-2 NIW case processing times accordingly, so that you can maintain your status in the United States. If you do not have an immigration attorney yet, or if you have questions about the national interest waiver, contact us.