EB1 vs EB2: Which Option Is Better?

EB1 vs EB2
Facundo Bermudez
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Published on 14 Jun 2024 Time to read 8 min read Last update on 19 Jun 2024

When considering immigration to the United States through employment-based visas, two prominent categories often come into play: the EB1 vs EB2 visas. Understanding the distinctions between these two categories is crucial for individuals seeking to advance their careers, access better opportunities, and secure a stable future in the U.S. Therefore, in this guide, we will delve into the key differences between EB1 vs EB2 visas, with a particular focus on the EB1A (Extraordinary Ability) and EB2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) subcategories. Both the EB1 and EB2 visas offer unique pathways for highly skilled professionals, but they cater to different types of applicants and have distinct requirements, advantages, and drawbacks.

Let’s dive in and explore the intricacies of these two important categories.

EB1 vs EB2: Understanding the basics

EB1 Visa Overview:

– EB1A (Extraordinary Ability): This visa is designed for individuals who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This category is highly selective and requires evidence of sustained national or international acclaim. Applicants do not need a job offer or a labor certification, which makes this category particularly attractive for top-tier talents who wish to self-petition.

– EB1B (Outstanding Professors and Researchers): This category is for outstanding professors and researchers who are recognized internationally for their academic achievements. Applicants must have at least three years of experience in teaching or research and must be seeking to enter the U.S. for a tenure or tenure-track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education.

– EB1C (Multinational Managers or Executives): This category is for managers and executives who have been employed by a multinational company outside the U.S. for at least one of the three preceding years and are being transferred to a managerial or executive position within the same company in the U.S. This category also does not require a labor certification.

EB2 Visa Overview:

– EB2 (Advanced Degree/Exceptional Ability): This visa is for professionals holding an advanced degree or those with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. The applicant must have a job offer and the employer must obtain a labor certification. However, an exception to this requirement is the National Interest Waiver (NIW).

– EB2 NIW (National Interest Waiver): This category allows applicants to request a waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirements if they can demonstrate that their work is in the national interest of the U.S. This is particularly suitable for individuals whose work has significant implications for the U.S. in fields such as health, technology, and education.

EB1A Requirements

To qualify for an EB1A visa, you must present compelling evidence of extraordinary ability. To demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in your field of expertise, you need to provide proof of a one-time major internationally-recognized achievement (such as an award) or meet at least 3 of the 10 criteria listed below:

1- Awards and Honors: Major international or national awards, such as a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer Prize.
2- Memberships: Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements as a condition of membership.
3- Published Material: Articles or other media about you and your work in major trade publications or major media.
4- Judging: Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field.
5- Original Contributions: Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance.
6- Authorship: Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media.
7- Exhibitions or Showcases: Evidence of your work being displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
8- Leading Role: Leading or critical role for organizations with a distinguished reputation.
9- High Salary: High salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
10- Commercial Success: Commercial successes in the performing arts.

EB2 NIW Requirements

To qualify for an EB2 NIW, you must meet the following criteria:
Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability: You must hold an advanced degree (Master’s or higher) or demonstrate exceptional ability in your field. Exceptional ability means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.

– Proof of Exceptional Ability: If you fall under the exceptional ability category, you must provide three of the following pieces of evidence:

1- An academic record detailing your degree, diploma, or certification from a college, university, school, or other institution.
2- Letters of recommendation from current or former employers documenting at least 10 years of experience.
3- A license or certification to practice your profession.
4- Membership in a professional association.
5- Recognition for your achievements in your field from peers, government entities, and/or professional or business organizations.
6- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability.

National Interest Waiver Criteria: To fulfill the National Interest Waiver requirement, you must prove that your role fulfills the following three “prongs”:

Your work has substantial merit and is nationally important to the U.S.
You have the knowledge and ability to work in your role in the U.S.
It would be beneficial for the U.S. to waive a job offer and labor certification because it is evident your work will benefit the country.

Pros and Cons



– No Job Offer Required: You can self-petition, which means you do not need an employer to sponsor your application.
– Faster Processing: EB1A applications are typically processed faster than other employment-based categories.
– High Priority: EB1A has a higher priority in the green card process, which can lead to quicker approval times.
– High Standards: The evidence requirements are stringent and challenging to meet.
– Competitive: The category is highly competitive and subject to rigorous scrutiny.



– No Job Offer Required: Like EB1A, the NIW allows for self-petitioning.
– Broad Eligibility: Suitable for a wide range of professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.
– National Interest Argument: If your work is of national importance, the NIW can be a strategic pathway.


– Longer Processing Times: EB2 NIW applications generally take longer to process compared to EB1A.
– Complex Justification: Demonstrating national interest can be complex and requires substantial evidence.

Who Qualifies?


– Academics and Researchers: Individuals with groundbreaking research recognized internationally.
– Professionals in Fields like Technology, Engineering, Medicine, and Business: Individuals who have significantly contributed to their fields.
– Artists and Athletes: Those with extraordinary talents and achievements on an international level.
– Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders: Innovators whose work has a profound impact on their industry.


– Academics and Researchers: Professionals whose work benefits the U.S. significantly.
– Professionals in Fields like Technology, Engineering, Medicine, and Business: Those with advanced degrees who are contributing to significant national projects or research.
– Artists, Athletes, and Individuals with Exceptional Abilities: Those whose work is deemed to be in the national interest of the U.S.
– Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders: Innovators whose business ventures benefit the U.S. economy and society.

EB1 vs EB2 Showdown

Criteria EB1A EB2 NIW
Requirement Extraordinary ability Advanced degree or exceptional ability
Job Offer Needed No No
Labor Certification No No
Processing Time 4 to 7 months More than 3 years, varies by nationality
Evidence Needed High Moderate
Competitiveness Very competitive Less competitive than EB1A

Example Scenario: Dr. Jane Doe

To illustrate, let’s consider the case of Dr. Jane Doe, a renowned researcher in renewable energy from India. Dr. Doe has multiple international awards, has been published in leading scientific journals, and has developed innovative technologies in solar energy.

For EB1A:

Dr. Doe can apply under the EB1A category by showcasing her international awards, publications, and significant contributions to the field of renewable energy. She does not need a job offer or labor certification, making this a streamlined path for her.

For EB2 NIW:

Alternatively, Dr. Doe could apply for an EB2 NIW by demonstrating how her work in renewable energy significantly benefits the U.S. She would need to show that her research addresses critical national needs for energy sustainability and independence. While this path might take longer, it offers a viable option given her advanced degree and the national importance of her work. However, it is important to note that there is a significant backlog of more than 11 years for Indian nationals applying under the EB2 NIW category, which could considerably delay her application.

Conclusion: Which is Better?

Choosing between EB-1A and EB-2 NIW depends on your unique qualifications and career goals. If you have extraordinary achievements and international recognition, EB-1A might be the faster route. However, if your work holds significant importance to the U.S. and you hold an advanced degree or possess exceptional abilities, EB-2 NIW could be more suitable. In any case, our expert team can help you navigate the complexities of the application process and determine the best pathway for your situation. Contact us today to start your journey towards obtaining a U.S. green card and advancing your career.

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Mentioned visas

EB2-NIW (green card)

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

Get NIW information

E2 Visa

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

Access E-2 visa details