Requirements, Documentation & Application Process
The EB-2 visa is a second preference employment-based visa and is typically for graduates with an advanced degree or a foreign national with exceptional ability in their area of specialization.
There are three ways of getting an EB-2 visa (green card):
- Members of professions who hold an advanced degree (or equivalent)
- Those who can otherwise prove exceptional ability in their particular field, whether the sciences, arts, medicine, business, or athletics
- National Interest Waiver (NIW) is a method of getting an EB-2 without having an employer.
Employers file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker on the applicant's behalf, unless the applicant is self-petitioning through the National Interest Waiver, in which case they can file themselves.
Except where applicants are self-petitioning through the National Interest Waiver, the EB-2 requires the employer to file a PERM application and retain a Labor Certification, showing no other Americans are willing or qualified to fill the position.
Employers must prove their continuing ability to pay the offered wage as current with the priority date. An annual report, federal income tax return, or an audited financial statement are acceptable evidence.
EB-2 Requirements & Documentation:
1. Advanced Degree
The applicant is seeking employment in the United States that requires an advanced degree or equivalent. The applicant can meet the requirements with a baccalaureate or foreign equivalent if they have years of progressive experience in the field and the required qualifications.
Applicants must meet all other labor certification requirements as applicable.
- Official academic record showing your U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree.
- Alternatively, an official academic record showing your U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree, plus letters from current or former employers proving that you have at least five years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialized field.
Note: If a doctoral degree is customarily required, you must have a United States doctorate or foreign equivalent degree.
2. Exceptional Ability
Alternatively, prove exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. USCIS defines exceptional ability as "a degree of expertise significantly about that ordinarily encountered."
To prove exceptional ability evidence showing at least three of seven criteria set by USCIS, which may include:
- Official academic record showing the area of learning as it relates to exceptional ability
- Employment letters attesting that the beneficiary has at least ten years of full-time experience
- Professional license to practice or certification
- Recognition for achievements and significant contributions in the particular field
- Professional association membership(s)
- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
- Other comparable proof of eligibility
You must also satisfy all Labor Certification requirements as applicable.
3. National Interest Waiver
An NIW is a caveat to undergoing the PERM or Labor Certification process. An NIW fast-tracks applications for individuals who can prove their specialty is in U.S. national interest. NIWs allow an EB-2 applicant to obtain an employment-based green card without an employer.
How to Qualify for a National Interest Waiver
- The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.
The endeavor has to be significant and impactful. However, national importance does not require a national scope.
- Be well-positioned to advance the proposed initiative.
- It would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer, and thus the labor certification.
Note: An approved application must usually accompany employment-based, second-preference petitions for Permanent Employment Certification from the Department of Labor on ETA Form 9089. However, applicants can request to waive this requirement through a National Interest Waiver petition.
Employers of professional nurses and physical therapists who can show exceptional ability through widespread acclaim and international recognition may submit the petition with an uncertified ETA-9089 for USCIS consideration as Schedule A. See USCIS policy in Volume 6, Part E, Chapter 7, of the USCIS Policy Manual for more information on Schedule A.
The EB-2 NIW is a unique path to securing residency and can be a viable option for entrepreneurs.
The legal spouse of an EB-2 green cardholder may apply to remain in the U.S. via an E-21 application, minor children (unmarried, under 21) use an E-22 application.
The spouse may apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to work in the U.S. during the process.
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