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EB-2 NIW Green Card

The EB-2 visa is for U.S. professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities, with subcategories including EB-2(A) for exceptional skills, EB-2(B) for advanced degrees, and EB-2(C) for a waiver of job offer and labor certification in the national interest.

What is an EB-2 visa?

The EB-2 visa is a type of immigrant visa for highly qualified individuals who wish to live and work in the United States. It was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 and is part of the employment-based permanent residency program.

This visa category is for individuals who hold advanced degrees or have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. These individuals are seen as beneficial to the national economy, cultural interests, educational interests, or welfare of the United States. Employers in the United States seek out these individuals for their expertise in various fields.

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3 Categories of EB-2 Visa

EB-2(A): Advanced Degree Professionals

The EB-2(A) visa is a specific type of visa within the Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) category that is designed for Advanced Degree Professionals who want to work and live in the United States.

In order to be eligible for this visa, individuals must have advanced degrees, usually at the master’s level or higher, or have a bachelor’s degree along with significant professional experience.

It is important for applicants to show exceptional ability in their field, which can be demonstrated through a track record of significant accomplishments, recognition, or contributions that set them apart as experts or leaders in their respective fields.

EB-2(B): Exceptional Ability

The EB-2(B) visa category is part of the Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) classification and is intended for individuals who have exceptional ability in their respective fields. This visa category emphasizes expertise and accomplishments that set applicants apart as leaders or experts in their field.

Unlike the EB-2(A) category, which focuses on advanced degrees, the EB-2(B) visa allows for a more flexible approach, considering outstanding achievements and recognition as qualifying criteria. Applicants in this category may have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, but they must demonstrate a high level of proficiency and impact in their field of expertise.

Occupations that may qualify for the EB-2(B) visa include scientists with groundbreaking research and technology or IT professionals with significant achievements. This visa category is designed to attract individuals with exceptional abilities and accomplishments to the United States for employment opportunities.

EB-2(C): National Interest Waiver (NIW)

The EB-2(C) visa category, also known as the National Interest Waiver (NIW), offers a unique pathway for individuals whose work is deemed to be in the national interest of the United States.

This category is distinct from the standard EB-2 requirements, as it allows qualified applicants to bypass the labor certification process and the need for a specific job offer. To be eligible for the EB-2(C) visa, individuals must demonstrate that their work holds substantial merit and national importance.

The National Interest Waiver is often sought by professionals in fields such as science, technology, research, academia, and other areas where the applicant’s work significantly impacts the nation’s well-being.

Main requirements of the EB-2 NIW visa

  • Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability: Applicants should possess an advanced degree or demonstrate exceptional ability in their field, as required by the standard EB-2 visa criteria.
  • Significant Contributions: Individuals must show a record of significant contributions and achievements in their field, establishing themselves as experts or leaders.
  • National Interest Impact: The applicant must demonstrate that their work holds substantial merit and national importance, going beyond the individual and benefiting the United States as a whole.
  • Evidence of Expertise: Provide evidence showcasing the applicant's expertise and how their work is unique, innovative, or crucial to the advancement of their field.

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How to Apply For The L-1 Visa

To apply for an L-1 visa, you must follow these steps:

  • STEP 1: Assess Eligibility: To initiate the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) visa application process, it is crucial to thoroughly evaluate your eligibility. This typically involves holding an advanced degree or showcasing exceptional ability in your field. The eligibility criteria also emphasize making substantial contributions to your field and proving the national interest impact of your work.
  • STEP 2: Gather Supporting Documentation: Once eligibility is established, the next step involves compiling a comprehensive set of supporting documents. These documents serve as evidence of your qualifications and achievements. Include educational credentials, letters of recommendation, publications, patents, awards, and a detailed curriculum vitae. Collectively, these materials substantiate the exceptional nature of your contributions and the significance of your work.
  • STEP 3: Draft a National Interest Statement: A critical component of the NIW application is the National Interest Statement. This document should provide a detailed and persuasive narrative of your expertise, specific contributions, and the national interest implications of your work. Clearly articulate how your endeavors go beyond individual accomplishments, benefiting the United States on a broader, national scale.
  • STEP 4: Complete Form I-140: Proceed to complete Form I-140, the Petition for Alien Worker. In this form, explicitly state your intention to apply for an NIW in the relevant section. Provide detailed information about your education, employment history, and accomplishments. This form serves as the official petition to establish your eligibility for the NIW visa.
  • STEP 5: Pay Filing Fees: Ensure that you pay the required filing fee associated with Form I-140. Fees may vary, so refer to the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information. Payment is a crucial step in the submission process and should be completed in accordance with the provided guidelines.
  • STEP 6: Submit the Application: Mail the completed Form I-140, along with all supporting documents and the filing fee, to the USCIS Lockbox facility. Be attentive to the correct mailing address, as specified in the form instructions. Proper submission ensures that your application is received and processed by USCIS.
  • STEP 7: USCIS Review and Potential RFE: Upon submission, USCIS will review your application. If additional information is needed, they may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). Respond promptly and thoroughly to any RFE to facilitate the review process.
  • STEP 8: Wait for USCIS Decision: Following the review, USCIS will make a decision on your Form I-140 petition. If approved, you can proceed to the subsequent steps in the green card application process. Await the official notification from USCIS regarding the outcome of your petition.
  • STEP 9: Green Card Process: If your Form I-140 is approved, you can move forward with the final steps of the green card process. If you are in the U.S., you may file Form I-485 for adjustment of status. If abroad, consular processing will be required. Attend any necessary biometrics appointments and immigration interviews, and await a decision on your green card application.

Documentation to Present

Copies of diplomas, degrees, and transcripts.

Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

Passport of the employee to transfer evidence of the employee’s work history.

Passport of the employee to transfer evidence of the employee’s work history.

Letters from experts in your field endorsing your contributions and attesting to your exceptional ability.

A detailed professional resume outlining your education, work experience, publications, presentations, and other relevant achievements.

A well-crafted personal statement explaining your field of expertise, detailing specific contributions, and demonstrating how your work benefits the national interest of the United States.

Documentation showcasing exceptional ability in your field, such as awards, recognitions, memberships in professional organizations, or a record of significant contributions.

The Ascending Trajectory of the EB-2 NIW Visa Program

In Fiscal Year 2023, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has shared information about the National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitions for the first three quarters. In the first quarter, 8,806 NIW petitions were submitted, and 84.9% of them were approved, resulting in 7,622 approved petitions.

Moving on to the second quarter, there were 7,889 applications received. The approval landscape changed with 9,119 approvals, 1,710 denials, and 15,825 pending applications, leading to an approval rate of 84.5%.

The third quarter showed improvement with an increased approval rate of 89.6%. These statistics provide a dynamic overview of the changing trends in EB2 NIW adjudications during the fiscal year, showing the detailed processes and outcomes in the immigration field.

EB-2 NIW Processing Time

When applying for Form I-140, the time it takes for processing can vary from 10.5 to 26.5 months, depending on where the applicant is applying from. Once the applicant receives an approval notice, they must then check the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin to see if green cards are available.

If a visa is available, the applicant can start the green card application process. If applying from within the U.S., they will need to submit Form I-485. It’s important to be aware that there are significant processing delays, which can greatly affect the time it takes to get permanent residency.

Status of Relatives of the EB-2 Visa Holder

Derivative Status for Family Members

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) primarily focuses on the individual who is applying for it. However, the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of the applicant can also be included in the immigration process as derivative beneficiaries. This means that they are able to come to the United States with the main applicant and obtain green cards based on the primary applicant’s NIW approval.

Eligibility for Work Authorization

Once the spouse of the EB-2 NIW beneficiary is in the United States, they can apply for permission to work through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This authorization allows them to work legally in the United States while their green card application is being processed.

Access to Education

Children who are accompanying the main person receiving benefits can attend school in the United States and may be eligible for certain advantages that are offered to the family members of immigrants who have employment-based visas.

Benefits of the L-1 visa

  • Unlike many employment-based immigrant visa categories, the EB-2 NIW allows individuals to self-petition. This means that applicants do not necessarily need an employer to sponsor them; they can file the petition on their own behalf.
  • In most cases, when employers want to hire a foreign worker, they need to show that there are no qualified American workers available for the job through the labor certification process. However, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) allows foreign workers to skip this step, making the application process faster and easier.
  • In certain cases, premium processing may be available for the I-140 petition, which can expedite the overall processing time. Premium processing allows for a faster adjudication of the petition for an additional fee.
  • Successful EB-2 NIW applicants can eventually apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting the required residency and other eligibility criteria.
  • Once the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) petition is approved, the individuals who are the beneficiaries of the petition and their dependent family members are eligible to apply for permanent residency, also known as green cards, in the United States. This allows them to live and work in the country indefinitely.

EB-2 NIW Premium Processing

In simple terms, premium processing is a service provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that speeds up the review process for certain immigration applications.

For example, if someone is applying for the EB-2 NIW visa using Form I-140, they can pay an extra fee of $2,500 to request premium processing. This means their application will be reviewed and a decision will be made within 15 days, which is much faster than the standard processing time. This service helps applicants get a quicker decision on their immigration petition.