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USCIS New Policy Guidance on EB-2 National Interest Waiver Applicants in STEM


On January 21, 2022, USCIS updated guidance on adjusting requests for EB-2 National Interest Waiver applications for persons with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

This guidance recognizes that there are specific evidentiary considerations relating to STEM fields and the importance of STEM fields and the essential role of persons with advanced STEM degrees.

To identify a critical and emerging STEM field, USCIS considers governmental, academic and other authoritative and instructions sources. An example of an authoritative list includes the list of critical and emerging technology subfields published by the National Science and Technology Council. You may access this list here, which includes fields such as Semiconductors and Microelectronics, Space Technologies and Systems, Renewable Energy Generation and Storage, etc.

For the first prong, the evidence must demonstrate that a STEM endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance. Many STEM endeavors have substantial merit in relation to U.S. science and technology interests and also have broad implications to demonstrate national importance.

For the second prong, the applicant’s education and skillset are relevant to whether they are well positioned to advance the STEM endeavor. USCIS will consider an advanced degree, particularly a PhD, in a STEM field tied to the proposed endeavor and related to work furthering a critical and emerging technology, and especially positive factor to be considered among the second prong. USCIS will also consider that an applicant with a PhD in a STEM field has scientific knowledge in a narrow STEM area and will look at their doctoral dissertations and master’s theses, concentrated on a particular subject matter. An applicant can submit any relevant evidence, including letters from interested government agencies to show they are well positioned to advance the endeavor. A degree by itself, however, cannot be the only basis to meet the requirement that the applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.

For the third prong, it is on the applicant to establish that granting the job waiver outweigh the requirements of a job offer and labor certification. USCIS will consider factors such as: the applicant having an advanced STEM degree (specifically a PhD), the applicant will be working on furthering a critical and emerging technology or other STEM area vital to US competitiveness, and that the applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed STEM endeavor of national importance. It is especially helpful if the endeavor has the potential to support US national security or enhance US economic competitiveness.

To read further on USCIS’ new policy guidance for those in STEM fields, please read the USCIS policy guidance volume 5, part f, chapter 5 on “Specific Evidentiary Considerations for Persons with Advanced Degrees in STEM Fields” here.

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