National Interest Waiver (NIW) Requests Almost Double


USCIS recently released its data on Form I-140 Immigrant Petitions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 (October 2022 to September 2023). The data includes information about the number of cases filed and the amount of approvals and denials in each of the preference categories. 

Overall, the number of I-140 petitions filed in the EB-2 category for individuals with an advanced degree increased by 20 percent from FY2021 to FY2022 and continued to increase by an additional 10 percent into FY2023. Of the total EB-2 petitions filed, 43% requested a National Interest Waiver (NIW), nearly doubling the percent of NIW requests from the previous year from 21,990 in FY2022 to 39,810 in FY2023.

With the huge increase in NIW requests, the approval rates dropped to about 80%, compared to a 96% approval rate in FY2022. Although the percentage of overall approvals decreased, USCIS still approved 31,889 NIW petitions as compared to 10,316 in the previous year. 

The recent trends in NIW filings over the past few years are in part due to USCIS policy changes promoting EB-2 NIW, such as the January 2022 USCIS policy guidance update clarifying how STEM professionals and entrepreneurs can demonstrate eligibility for the NIW. This policy update was made following the Biden Administration’s issuance of Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. Interestingly, EB-2 cases (both with and without an NIW) filed in the STEM category decreased by almost 13% compared to the previous year. 

The FY2023 data released by USCIS shows that the absolute number of NIW petition filings remained substantially higher than in the previous years. The increased interest in NIWs is anticipated to continue this year. 

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