New, More Favorable Legal Standard for National Interest Waiver Petition Approvals

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Jonson, has designated as precedential the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office’s (AAO) decision in Matter of Dhanasar. This precedent decision vacates Matter of New York State Dep’t of Transp., 22 I&N Dec. 215 (Acting Assoc. Comm’r 1998). The case can be found in the Virtual Law Library of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.

This precedent decision means that USCIS may grant a national interest waiver if the petitioner demonstrates: (1) that the foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; (2) that he or she is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and (3) that, on balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirement of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.

The Secretary of DHS may, with the Attorney General’s approval, designate AAO or other DHS decisions to serve as precedents in all future proceedings involving the same issue or issues. Precedent decisions are binding on DHS employees except as modified or overruled by later precedent decisions, statutory changes, or regulatory changes. AAO precedent decisions may announce new legal interpretations or agency policy, or they may reinforce existing law and policy by demonstrating how it applies to a unique set of facts.