Use Your Talent: EB-2 Visa for National Interest

Written by: Ailen Faiad
Last Updated by Rocio Somoza: March 15, 2023
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EB-2 Visa

The EB-2 National Interest Visa is a visa granted by the U.S. government to foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities. If you intend to apply for this visa, it is important that you know what requirements you must accomplish. In this article, we will explain in detail what are the conditions of this visa and what documentation you must submit to apply for it.

What is the EB2 NIW?

The EB2 National Interest Waiver (NIW), more commonly known as the EB-2 National Interest Waiver, is an immigrant visa that grants a foreign national lawful permanent residence without the requirement of a job offer. The job offer requirement does not apply if the applicant can demonstrate that permanent residence in the U.S. would be in the “national interest” and would benefit the country.

The benefit to the country can be demonstrated in many ways, but the most common is through the applicant’s contribution to a specific area of science or research.

The Department of Labor will grant authorization to employ a foreign national if the foreign national’s proposed efforts benefit the U.S. Consequently, a qualified individual can “self-petition” and obtain a green card based on his or her own professional experience and skills.

sponsorship for employment

Who is it for?

The EB-2 national interest visa is available to foreign nationals who have obtained an advanced degree or its foreign equivalent in a professional field. These individuals may also meet this educational requirement with a bachelor’s degree and at least 5 years of progressive experience in their field.

That is, an advanced degree under EB2-NIW is a degree or qualification higher than a bachelor’s degree. The applicant can obtain this in the U.S. from a recognized U.S. university or a foreign equivalent of a U.S. advanced degree.

Residing in the United States

Year after year, thousands of workers decide to take a gamble on the American dream. According to the U.S. government and Immigration Law, a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or “green card holder” is defined as a foreign national who has been granted “the status of having been lawfully granted the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as a permanent resident of the United States as an immigrant under the immigration laws, without such status having changed.” LPRs may live and work permanently anywhere in the United States, own property, and attend schools, colleges, and universities.

Effects of the Pandemic

The following graph measures the number of permanent legal residents in the country. And it is interesting to see how it reached its peak of decline during the pandemic, and how it rebounded again after the pandemic.

eb-2 visa

Due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, LPR flows in 2021 were not representative of typical trends. Travel restrictions and slower processing led to lower overall inflows, while foreign-born residents within the United States also faced vulnerabilities specific to COVID-19 immigration status.

Source: Bureau of Immigration

Advantages of the EB-2 National Interest Visa

Among many others, the main advantages of this visa are:

-No job offer is required to apply.

-The application process is relatively quick and simple.

-Once the visa is obtained, the holder can work and live permanently in the United States.

-Final approval does not depend on Department of Labor, as opposed to the EB-3 and non-NIW EB-2 categories


And among its cons, broadly speaking:

-Benefits of the country must be clearly and precisely demonstrated.

-Final approval depends entirely on the Department of Labor, which makes it somewhat difficult to predict the outcome.

-Benefits are mainly for those with extraordinary abilities in the field of science or research.

What distinguishes it from the EB-2 Visa?

The main distinction between the EB-2 Visa and the EB-2 National Interest Visa is the requirement of a job offer. While the EB-II Visa requires a valid job offer, the EB-NIW Visa does not.

What form must be completed to apply?

To apply for the EB-2 National Interest Visa, a work permit (Form I-140) must first be obtained from the Department of Labor. This permit will confirm that the foreign national has the qualifications and experience necessary to perform the specific job for which they would be hired. It costs $700 and must be mailed in.

eb-2 visa

EB-2 National Interest Visa Requirements

Below you will find detailed eligibility requirements imposed by the USCIS in subcategories:

Postgraduate degreeThe job you are applying for must require a graduate degree and you must possess such a degree or its foreign equivalent (a baccalaureate or bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent degree, plus five years post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in your field). You must meet any other requirements specified in the labor certification, as applicable.Documentation, such as official records showing that you have a U.S. graduate degree or foreign equivalent degree and letters from former employers or your current employer showing that you have at least five years of progressive work experience in the specialty after receiving a baccalaureate degree. If a doctoral degree is usually required, you must have a U.S. or foreign equivalent degree.
Exceptional AptitudeYou will need to be able to demonstrate that you have some exceptional aptitude in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional aptitude “means a degree of ability markedly above that normally found in the sciences, arts or business.” You must meet any requirements specified in the labor certification, as applicable.You must meet at least three of the criteria below.*

Exceptional Aptitude Category Requirements

* In the case of entering the Exceptional Aptitude category, you must meet at least 3 of the following requirements:

  1. Official academic records showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award granted by a college, university, school, or other educational institution related to the field in which you have an exceptional aptitude.
  2. Letters documenting that you have at least 10 years of full-time experience in your profession.
  3. A permit to practice your profession or certification of your profession or occupation.
  4. Proof that you have received a salary or other remuneration for your services that demonstrate that you have an exceptional ability.
  5. Membership in one or more professional associations.
  6. Recognition by peers, government entities, and professional or business organizations for your accomplishments and notable contributions to your industry or field.
  7. Other similar evidence of eligibility will also be accepted.

NWI Visa Approval Rate

According to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration, legal residents arriving in the country with advanced degrees increased by nearly 3% from 2019 to 2021, from 43,666 to 59,834 workers per year.

This is a positive indicator, as while there are many procedures and paperwork to complete, the United States has its doors open to those who can contribute to the nation.

The graph below is the source of this statistic, with “Professionals with advanced degrees” being the sector to consider related to this visa.

eb-2 visa
Source: Bureau of Immigration

Relatives of EB-2 Visa Holders in the National Interest

If your I-140 petition is approved, your spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to enter the United States under E-21 and E-22 immigrant status, respectively.


The EB-2 National Interest Visa is a great option for highly skilled professionals seeking to obtain permanent residence in the United States. Unlike other work visas, it does not require a prior work permit nor does it require an employer to sponsor employees. In addition, the application process is relatively simple and can be done on your own.

However, while this visa offers many advantages, it also has its disadvantages and limitations. As always, it is recommended that you consult an immigration attorney before taking any steps to apply for a visa.

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