Eligibility

  • The applicant’s work serves the American national interest (i.e. medical, research, culture, national defense, etc.);
  • The applicant’s work benefits the entire country (i.e. is not limited to particular regions or persons); and
  • The applicant’s contribution is far greater than those possible of American workers of the same level.
  • No sponsor needed; the applicant can be his/her own sponsor for this application.

Validity Period

  • 10-year permanent residency (renewable indefinitely)

Procedure Overview

The applicant must first apply for I-140 to establish eligibility for NIW, then apply for I-485 to request change of status to permanent resident. However, applicants born in certain countries may be able to file I-140 and I-485 concurrently.

  • In case of separate filing of I-140 and I-485, the process takes about 1.5 years
  • In case of concurrent filing of I-140 and I-485, the process takes about 1 year

Important Notes

  • If the applicant is currently in the U.S. under J-1 status and applies for permanent residency (including NIW) or for the waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, the applicant will no longer be able to extend his/her J-1.
  • If the applicant is currently in the U.S. with a non-immigrant status other than H or L, we highly recommend filing I-140 and I-485 separately. If filed concurrently, there will be a period of time during which the applicant will not be able to travel abroad, and if the applicant’s I-140 is denied, the I-485 will also be denied, causing the applicant to lose legal status. In that case, the applicant may face deportation proceedings. In order to minimize such risk, it is recommended to first file I-140 to ensure NIW eligibility, then file for I-485.

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