What Exactly Does National Interest Mean?

If you're applying for a National Interest Waiver (NIW), you need to show how your work benefits the national interest, but it can be difficult to figure out exactly what that means with regard to your particular field. The basic definition of national interest is the general advancement, protection, and well-being of the country as a whole. Translating that to fit your plan for working can be tricky, and it requires the help of a skilled immigration attorney. This article can help you start understanding the basics. 

Benefiting the Country as a Whole

One condition considered for something to be in the national interest is that the effects of your work will benefit the country as a whole. For example, if you're an epidemiologist who wants to work in the United States on developing a vaccine for Valley Fever in humans, this could be in the national interest. While Valley Fever is endemic in the Southwest and a few other isolated spots, it affects the nation as a whole because people from anywhere could pick up the fungus that causes the disease just by visiting an affected area. Plus, as climates change, the incidence of Valley Fever could get worse. Despite its apparent limited location, Valley Fever is something that the entire country should be aware of.

However, if you're an actor who is well-regarded in your home country and you think your skills would be valuable here in the United States, that might not necessarily be in the national interest. Certainly, your skills could be stellar, but your field might not be considered that urgent to the advancement of the country. There are visas that are more well-suited to artistic fields, but the EB-2 and National Interest Waiver might not be the best choice. You should speak with an immigration attorney to see if there's a way to present your goals as beneficial for the country.

Fairly Urgent Matters

Something that's in the national interest doesn't necessarily have to be an emergency, but in terms of job requirements and showing what you do is necessary, it helps that there be some urgency that prevents you from going through the normal EB-2 visa hoops. The Valley Fever example is a good one because this is an ongoing problem that can be very bad. Many people who get Valley Fever show no symptoms, but some get hit very hard, and it's a devastating disease for dogs, too. You could say that your work can't really wait that long.

But as for the actor example, the work just might not be of national urgency. But again, don't be discouraged; seek the help of an immigration attorney.

Actually Important

And of course, whatever you're applying to do in the United States has to be actually important. Acting is important, for example, and if you're an actor hoping to also start afterschool acting programs for underprivileged kids, for example, you may want to point that out as part of your waiver application. But if you just want to go on road trips and act in different cities as part of a personal goal, that's not something that would easily qualify as important to the nation itself.

Regardless of your field, talk to an immigration attorney about how to apply and show that your goals and field qualify for a National Interest Waiver. This is a process that needs to be done exactly according to immigration laws, and a lawyer is your best chance of having the application done properly.