Use Your Talent: EB-2 Visa for National Interest

Written by: Rocío Torres
Last Updated by Rocío Torres: October 11, 2023
Get a Green Card through an EB-2 NIW Visa
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.

eb-2 visa

Who can apply for the EB-2 National Interest Visa?

The EB-2 National Interest Visa (NIW) 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 EB-2 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.

EB-2 National Interest Visa Advantages

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) offers several benefits to eligible applicants who are approved for the visa. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Job offer waiver: applicants for the EB-2 National Interest (NIW) Visa do not need a job offer from a U.S. employer to be eligible for the visa.
  2. Expedited Processing: National Interest EB-2 (NIW) applicants may request expedited processing of their application, which means that their application may be processed more quickly than other immigrant visa applications.
  3. Permanent Resident Card: Approved EB-2 National Interest Visa (NIW) applicants can apply for a permanent resident card, allowing them to live and work in the United States permanently.
  4. Work and Business Opportunities: The EB-2 National Interest Visa (NIW) allows applicants to work and establish businesses in the United States, which can create opportunities for professional growth and success.

Although the EB-2 National Interest Visa (NIW) has multiple and diverse advantages, you should be aware that the application process can be complex and requires careful preparation and submission of proof and evidence to support the applicant’s ability and skills. In addition, applicants must also demonstrate that their presence in the United States would be in the national interest. 

About emigrating to 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) is defined as an alien who has been granted “the status of having lawfully received the privilege of residing permanently in 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

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

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:

a. 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.

b. Letters documenting that you have at least 10 years of full-time experience in your profession.

c. A permit to practice your profession or certification of your profession or occupation.

d. Proof that you have received a salary or other remuneration for your services that demonstrate that you have an exceptional ability.

e. Membership in one or more professional associations.

f. Recognition by peers, government entities, and professional or business organizations for your accomplishments and notable contributions to your industry or field.

g. 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.

visa eb-2 niw

Procedure and documentation

Below, you will find in detail everything you need to know to apply for an EB-2 National Interest Visa. There are three situations contemplated by the USCIS:

General Permanent General Labor Certification: Your employer must obtain a certified application for Permanent Employment Certification (ETA Form 9089) (PDF) from DOL before filing Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, with USCIS.

Schedule a general labor certification: For those with exceptional ability as defined by the Department of Labor (generalized recognition and international recognition) or certain nurse practitioners and physical therapists, the employer submits the petition to USCIS with a non-certified ETA Form 9089.

National Interest Waiver: Those seeking a national interest waiver may file a self-petition. These are those who request that the job offer, and therefore the labor certification, be waived because it is in the interest of the United States. The efforts that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined by law; however, USCIS considers the 3 factors below:

1- The proposed undertaking has both substantial merit and national significance.

2- You are well positioned to move forward with the proposed undertaking.

3- Overall, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and, therefore, labor certification. 

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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