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Houston Immigration Lawyers > Blog > EB-2 Visa > Understanding the Balancing Test in a National Interest Waiver

Understanding the Balancing Test in a National Interest Waiver


The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a unique immigration pathway that allows certain foreign nationals to bypass the labor certification process, provided their work benefits the United States. One of the most nuanced aspects of the NIW application is the “balancing test,” a critical part of the Dhanasar standard’s third prong. In this blog, we’ll explore what the balancing test entails, the factors considered, and why it’s a pivotal element in the NIW process.

The Dhanasar Standard

The Dhanasar standard, established in 2016, outlines a three-pronged test for evaluating National Interest Waiver petitions:

  1. The foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.
  2. The foreign national is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.
  3. On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements.

What is the Third Prong Balancing Test?

The balancing test requires immigration authorities to weigh the pros and cons of waiving the labor certification for the petitioner. Essentially, the test assesses whether the benefits of the petitioner’s work in the U.S. outweigh any potential disadvantages, particularly concerning the impact on U.S. workers.

Key Factors in the Balancing Test

Impact on U.S. Workers: Labor certification aims to protect U.S. workers by ensuring no qualified U.S. candidates are available for the job. In an NIW, the petitioner must show that the benefits of their work surpass the need for this protection.

National Interest: The petitioner’s contributions to fields like healthcare, technology, or education are weighed against the potential drawbacks of bypassing labor certification.

 Urgency or Need: If the petitioner’s work addresses a critical issue in the U.S., this can tip the balance in favor of waiving labor certification.

Petitioner’s Qualifications: The more qualified the petitioner, the more likely the balance will tip in their favor. Qualifications can include education, experience, and a history of success in the field.

Scope and Impact of Work: Work with a broader impact is more likely to pass the balancing test. This could include endeavors that have a nationwide impact or address significant public interest issues.

Strategies for Navigating the Balancing Test

Provide Concrete Evidence: Support your claims with tangible evidence, such as awards or publications, to show the national importance and impact of your work.

Leverage Expert Testimonials: Letters from experts in your field can serve as powerful endorsements, adding weight to your case in the balancing test.

Show Financial Viability: Evidence of financial backing, such as grants or contracts, can strengthen your case by demonstrating the feasibility and sustainability of your endeavor.

Discuss Collaborations: If you have institutional backing or are part of a team, make that clear. Collaborative efforts often carry more weight in the balancing test.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Lack of Supporting Evidence: Unsubstantiated claims can weaken your case in the balancing test. Always back your statements with concrete evidence.

Ignoring the Bigger Picture: The balancing test isn’t just about your qualifications; it’s also about how your work benefits the U.S. Make sure to articulate this clearly.

Contact BBA Immigration

The balancing test is a complex but crucial part of the NIW application process. Successfully navigating this requirement often requires expert guidance.

If you’re considering applying for a National Interest Waiver, contact BBA Houston Immigration Lawyers for a comprehensive consultation. Our team of experienced attorneys understands the intricacies of the NIW process, including the pivotal balancing test.




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