National Interest Waiver cover letter (or petition letter) is powerful instrument which “sells” all important facts convincing USCIS examiner that he / she should grant applicant permanent residency. Even “winning case” with strong facts may be lost if it is not shown in right way. Lots of people are interested in credentials of successful applicants but don’t realize that the most important thing is HOW the credentials are presented! This is clearly shown in our NIW DIY Kit.
We have seen several different styles how to write NIW petition letters. It is not clear which is the “right” one. USCIS and their case decisions and couple attorney opinions give us only a few details about how to prepare it. This post will show an outline and tips for NIW cover letter rather than a strict step by step instructions.
Organizing NIW cover letter in paragraphs with appropriate names
There is no doubt that strong arguments how applicant meets NIW requirements must be shown very clearly and effectively. USCIS recommends:
Identify how the alien qualifies for classification as a member of the professions with an advanced degree (e.g. the alien holds an advanced degree, the alien holds a Bachelor’s degree in addition to five years of progressive experience, or the alien qualifies as an alien of exceptional ability).
Identify each of the three criteria (e.g. intrinsic merit, national scope, and national interest) that must be satisfied and provide the evidence needed to satisfy each criteria. (See 8 C.F.R. 204.5(k) and Matter of New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), 22 I&N Dec. 3363, Int. Dec. 3363 (Act. Assoc. Comm. 1998).
Imagine that USCIS officer must decide many cases, this means he can spend probably very little time on one case. It is very unlikely that he will have enough time to go through all the submitted evidence. Maybe he cannot even read the whole NIW cover letter. Applicant shouldn’t assume that USCIS officer will find his crucial arguments unless he clearly guide officer’s attention by organizing NIW cover letter in appropriately named paragraphs (we will show it in the next post – NIW petition letter sample).
It is extremely important to create the right structure of NIW cover letter with these paragraphs and to let USCIS examiner immediately see where he can find four most important points which he looks for (satisfied advanced degree or exceptional ability rule and each of three NIW requirements). Hence petitioner might consider to put brief highlights (summary) at the beginning of NIW cover letter and then from here refer to “hidden” parts of the cover letter with detailed explanation or directly to specific exhibits. If the most convincing facts are presented just at the beginning these can guide USCIS officer to the strongest part of NIW case.
Remember, all 4 requirements MUST be covered and specific details must be provided:
- advanced degree or exceptional ability
- substantial intrinsic merit
- national in scope
- national interest would be adversely affected if a labor certification were required
Anything that can help to meet these criteria may be used: education, background, work experience, awards, achievements, patents, publications, citations, reviewing, invited talks, memberships, media coverage, benefits of research, its positive impact on US nation, testimonies etc. In order to correctly and completely address all appropriate points information from articles mentioned above may be used and also instructions from previous posts, NIW reference letter and sample, may be followed.
Easy reference guide of all evidence
NIW petition letter serves as a quick guide of all provided evidence. Applicant should reference to the specific exhibit whenever he needs to prove some fact. Table of contents or list of exhibits may be also used at the beginning of NIW cover letter. Or list may be put separately at the beginning of NIW petition package. Some people put this list right beneath NIW cover letter. The most important thing is to make it very easy for USCIS officer to go through NIW petition.
Quotations from recommenders and other evidence
Applicant should frequently quote appropriate parts from his / her letters of recommendation, articles or other evidence. Sometimes people introduce recommenders by summarizing their credentials right before actual citation. In fact, CV of recommender will be included together with reference letter, hence too long description of recommender’s qualification here seems to be quite useless and make NIW petition letter too lengthy with no additional value. We have used just very short introduction like: Dr. John Doe, independent expert and director of National Government Agency, states: “Dr. Sverak has developed new technology…”.
Quotations can convince USCIS adjudicator about applicant’s impact on the field and it also looks more objectively if arguments don’t come only from applicant’s mouth.
Language of NIW cover letter
There are similar rules for writing NIW petition letter like for recommendation letters. Plain simple language should be used, not too technical, rather understandable to layman who is outside applicant’s field of endeavor. But still benefits of applicant’s work should be explained in specific details.
Length of EB2 NIW petition letter
Total length of NIW petition letter is not prescribed. It can be written as long as it needs to make everything clear. It can be done short (5-10 pages) with many references to other documents and exhibits explaining details. Or it may be written longer and necessary details may be included directly in NIW cover letter – this kind of letter can be approximately 20-40 pages long.
Avoid in National Interest Waiver cover letter
Too lengthy, boring and repetitive descriptions should be avoided because USCIS officer can lose his interest before he will understand applicant’s argument. He can also miss important fact if it will be hidden somewhere deep in the long unconvincing text. On the other hand, explanation cannot be too general and short because officer needs to be convinced. Finding the right balance between these two extremes is the key to the successful EB2 NIW cover letter.
Arguments which may be considered as unconvincing and irrelevant should not be used. Too many of these matters can bury the strongest facts and officer can be led to bad focus. Then he can send RFE (Request for Additional Evidence) that these weak arguments didn’t persuade him enough and he requests stronger evidence although applicant might already have it there.
EB2 NIW cover letter is crucial
National Interest Waiver petition cover letter is the most important part of EB2 NIW petition and therefore petitioner should devote enough time to write it. Preparation of NIW petition letter may go through several “rounds” – first will be just an outline with facts covering everything required, then editing after getting NIW letters of recommendation, gathering all evidence and finally polishing it. This process is time consuming.
One of the next posts shows how can such letter look like (NIW cover letter sample).