EB-2 | Employment-Based Immigration: EB-2 Second Preference

EB-2 is an immigrant Visa preference category for United States employment-based permanent residency, created by the Immigration Act of 1990. EB-2 workers are highly qualified, and the EB-2 Visa allows them to live and work in the United States.  

The category includes “members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent” and “individuals who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural, or educational interests, or welfare of the United States, and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the United States”.

Do You Want to Work in The United States?

'

Complete The Form to See if You Are
Eligible For Visa Franchise Services

Schedule a Business Consultation Today

Employers love to hire EB-2 Visa holders because they are so easy to find. Many of these workers come from countries with large economies such as India, China, and Malaysia. Other countries that send a large number of EB-2 workers are Canada, Mexico, and Australia.

Essentially, this program is great for everyone because it helps the U.S. and the workers’ country grow economically.  

EB-2 also offers many advantages like job portability, green cards, and certain tax credits. EB-2 National Waivers applicants do not require a labor certification or employer sponsorship, making it easier for employers to hire EB-2 applicants than other immigrants. The EB-2 category is capped at 40,000 visas per year with no limit on individual countries, which makes it easier for employers to find EB-2 Visa holders from all over the world.

Is There a Difference Between a Regular EB-2 Visa and an EB-2 National Interest Waiver?

Yes, the two are very different in terms of their requirements, processing times, and the documentation required for each. In general, an EB-2 or other employment-based Visa requires a formal job offer for the applicant to be eligible to apply. Additionally, it requires a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor. 

An EB-2 with NIW, on the other hand, does not require any offer of employment. The petitioner is not required to go through the labor certification process with the Department of Labor. This is provided that the petitioner (applicant) can prove that his or her admission to the United States would be of national benefit. 

Types of EB-2 Visas

There are three tiers of EB-2 visas. Each of these visas has their own criteria and requirements that must be met before approval can be granted.  

 

1- EB-2A Visa (Advanced Degree) 

This is for individuals who have an advanced degree, or a bachelor’s degree plus 5 years of progressive experience in the field. EB-2A Visa holders can apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship if they meet all the requirements. 

 

2- EB-2B Visa (Exceptional Ability) 

This category is reserved for individuals with exceptional ability in a particular field, such as business, science, or art. EB-2B Visa holders can also apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship if they satisfy the eligibility criteria.  

 

3- EB-2C Visa (National Interest Waiver)  

The EB-2 NIW – National Interest Waiver, or more commonly known as the EB-2 National Interest Visa – 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.  

Benefit to the country can be demonstrated in many ways, but the most common is through the applicant’s contribution in 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 effort benefits the U.S. A qualified individual can “self-petition” and obtain a green card based on his or her own professional experience and skills.  

EB-2 Visa Application Requirements

USCIS is very strict with EB-2 National Interest Visa applications, so it is important that you meet all of the requirements to be eligible. Some of these include:

  • Possessing an advanced degree from a recognized university or its foreign equivalent; 
  • Having at least 5 years of progressive experience in your field; 
  • Demonstrating that you are working on an area of national interest; and 
  • Being able to show that your work will benefit the United States in some way.

 

Based on the USCIS official website, the description and the evidence of the EB-2 Advanced Degree and EB-2 Exceptional Ability visa are listed as follow:

SubcategoriesDescriptionEvidence
Advanced DegreeThe job you are applying for must require an advanced degree and you must possess such a degree or its foreign equivalent (a bachelor’s degree or a progressive post-bachelor’s foreign degree in the field). You must meet any other requirements specified in the labor certification as applicable to the priority date.Documentation, such as an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. advanced degree or foreign equivalent degree, or an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent degree and letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialty.
If a doctoral degree is usually required, you must have a U.S. Ph.D. or foreign equivalent degree.
Exceptional AbilityMust be able to demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business. Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that normally found in the sciences, arts, or business.” Must meet all requirements specified in the labor certification, as applicable.Must meet at least three of the criteria below*.

Who Is the EB-2 Visa For?

The EB-2 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. EB-2 visas are also available to individuals with exceptional ability in a particular field, such as business, science, or art. Finally, EB-2 visas may be available to those who can prove that their admission to the United States would be of national benefit through the EB-2 National Interest Waiver category. EB-2 Visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship if they meet all the requirements.  

It is important to note that EB-2 Visa applicants must comply with all immigration laws and regulations and attend interviews, file paperwork on time, renew visas when needed, and obey the laws of the United States. Additionally, an EB-2 Visa holder can change their status while in the United States.
 

Eligibility Criteria

Type or Waiver of Labor CertificationDescription
General Permanent Labor CertificationYour employer must obtain a certified Application for Certification of Employment (ETA Form 9089) from the DOL before filing Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker with USCIS.
Schedule a general labor certificationFor those with exceptional ability as defined by the Department of Labor or certain nurse practitioners and physical therapists, the employer submits the petition to USCIS with an uncertified ETA Form 9089 for consideration as Exhibit A.
National interest exemptionThose seeking a national interest waiver are requesting 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; instead, USCIS considers the three factors below** Those seeking a national interest waiver may file an application on their own (they do not need an employer to sponsor them).

** Factors USCIS considers for the National Interest Waiver

The proposed effort has both substantial merit and national significance.

You are well positioned to move forward with the proposed effort.

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

 

For more guidance on these factors in general and how USCIS considers them for those seeking STEM and entrepreneurial endeavors, read our policy in Section D of the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part F, Chapter 5, Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability .

For more information on filing fees, see the Filing Fees page.

Now that we have covered what you need to apply for an EB-2 Visa, let’s talk about how to get approved.

You must submit your application package through the USCIS website using Form I-129-EB-2 for your green card sponsorship application number one (1) through three (3).

Be sure to include all required documents with your application; failure to do so may result in delays or denial of your application. Also, be sure to include all required documents with your application; failure to do so may result in delays or denial of your application.

Your request package should include: 1) information about your educational background, 2) information about your work experience, and 3) two certified copies of your college transcript(s).

Approval Rate

According to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration, the number of 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. EB-2 Visa is one of the EB category visas that are considered to be the most desirable. As such, EB-2 visas tend to have a higher approval rate than other types of EB visas.   

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 approval rate

Can I Have Another Petition While Applying for an NIW EB-2 Visa?

The EB-2 NIW petition does not restrict a person from pursuing other Visa options. You may still submit other petitions while applying for an EB-2 NIW. However, you will need to submit separate forms with the additional fee and documentary evidence. If you plan to file more than one immigration petition at the same time, an experienced immigration attorney should do it for you. That increases your chances of approval.  

It is important to remember that EB-2 Visa holders need to comply with all immigration laws and regulations. This includes renewing visas when needed, attending interviews, filing paperwork on time, and obeying the laws of the United States. EB-2 Visa holders can also change their status while they are in the United States, depending on their circumstances. It is best to consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice about these matters.

visa h1b1

Relatives of National Interest EB-2 Visa Holders

According to the U.S. government and the Immigration Act, 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 an immigrant under the laws of the United States.” Green card holders live and work permanently anywhere in the United States, own property, and attend schools, colleges, and universities.  

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

Do You Need a Job Offer for the EB-2 Program?

Generally, you need a job offer before you can apply for a Visa or green card through the EB-2 program. However, if you meet the criteria for a national interest waiver, you may be able to file without a job offer. You will still need to file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, which your attorney can assist you with. 

EB-2 applicants who are filing for a national interest waiver must demonstrate that their presence in the U.S. will be of substantial value to the nation and have the potential to greatly benefit it in areas such as education, culture, healthcare, or business.   

Overall, EB-2 is an excellent program for highly skilled workers looking to live and work in the United States. It offers many advantages for employers and Visa holders alike, so if you meet all the criteria then EB-2 may be your path to permanent residency in the U.S.!   

To learn more about EB-2 visas and decide if they’re right for you, contact one of our experienced immigration attorneys today. They can help guide you through every step of 

Is an EB-2 a Nonimmigrant Visa?

An EB-2 is not a nonimmigrant Visa. It is an immigrant Visa that leads to lawful permanent residence in the United States. However, even if you have an EB-2 Visa or green card, you do not need to apply for U.S. citizenship, although you may do so if you wish in the future.  

These visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to live and work permanently in the United States. Again, however, you can maintain your lawful permanent resident status for the rest of your life; you do not have to apply for citizenship unless you want to.  

There are several benefits that come with U.S. citizenship, including a U.S. passport, protection from deportation, citizenship for children and other family members, and eligibility for government jobs. It is up to you whether you want to take that extra step after holding your green card for the required time. 

How Long Does It Take To Obtain A Green Card Through EB-2?

It usually takes about 18 months to obtain a green card through the EB-2 program. Until your green card arrives, you will be in the United States on an immigrant Visa.

The reason it takes so long to get a green card through the EB-2 program is that there are three distinct steps to the process. First, the company that wants to hire you must obtain a permanent labor certification. That certification allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States, and that takes some time.

*This information is as of September 2022

Based on the information provided by a Visa services firm called IAS Services, the process of the EB-2 application is as follows:  

1. Applicants for EB-2A and EB-2B must first have their employer file Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker) and wait for their priority date (a spot to open up in the Visa bulletin). Once a spot has opened up, they will be called to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if abroad) for an interview.  

Those individuals who are seeking a national waiver can self-petition with their Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker). Form I-140 will confirm that the foreigner has the necessary qualifications and experience to perform the specific job for which they will be hired. It costs $700 and must be sent by mail. 

Employers for EB-2A and EB-2B applicants must be able to demonstrate that they can continually pay the offered wage while working in the U.S. To do this, the employer can submit an annual report, federal tax return, or audited financial statement to prove that they have the funds. In addition, EB-2 applicants must also demonstrate that they are admissible to the U.S. by providing a medical exam and police clearance certificate (if applicable).  

Once all of these have been submitted, USCIS will review the application and issue either an approval or denial letter. The applicant can then proceed with the next step in their journey to living and working in the United States. 

In order for the employer to sponsor a foreign worker for an EB-2 Visa, the employer must first file with the U.S. Department of Labor for Permanent Labor Certification using the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) System. To do this, the employer must meet the following requirements: 

Certify that a job is available and is in a specialized professional field 

Demonstrate that the job is also available to U.S. workers 

Demonstrate that a foreign worker is needed 

Demonstrate that the pay rate for the job is at a prevailing industry rate 

To ensure that no qualified American workers are available for the employment position, employers must go through an extensive recruiting process. Once all the requirements are met, the Department of Labor will issue a PERM form and the employer can then sponsor a foreign worker for an EB-2 Visa. 

L-1

Time for the Process

Based on the IAS Services Website, the processing time to get an EB-2 varies depending on how long it takes for you to receive your priority date; in other words, for a spot to open up in the Visa bulletin. The wait time for this will depend on a number of factors such as if there is a USCIS backlog of Visa applications and what country an applicant is applying from. For instance, if you are applying from China or India, the wait time is much longer. 

The average processing time for Form I-140 is around 6-9 months. Premium Processing is available for those who do not want to wait months for their Form I-140 to process. This type of expedited processing will process your Visa application in 15 calendar days. If you choose to have your application premium processed, you must first file Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) and pay the $2,500 fee. Keep in mind that this service is not available for those EB-2 Visa applicants who are seeking a National Waiver. 

 

For those who need a PERM Labor Certification, the process can take an additional 8 months to 2 years. This depends on how your employer conducts their recruitment process and if they are audited for it. If you need more details about this process and how long it will take, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced immigration attorney who can advise you on your timeline and options. 

Fees for the Process

Depending on your case and unique circumstances, the costs associated with an EB-2 Visa will vary. Overall, the cost of the application will consist of the following fees:  

Form I-140 (if you are self-petitioning): $700 

Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application): $325 

Affidavit of Support: $120 

Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status); this form is if you are already in the U.S. under a different Visa and need to adjust your status to an EB-2 Visa 

USCIS immigrant fee: $220 

Medical examination and required vaccinations: costs may vary 

Certified translations (if applicable): costs may vary 

Travel expenses: costs may vary 

Your U.S. employer will be responsible for any costs associated with acquiring a PERM form. Currently, there is no charge to the filing fee for the PERM form

Conclusion

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, the application process is relatively simple and can provide great benefits.  

An EB-2 Visa can be an excellent pathway to permanent residence in the United States, but the eligibility requirements are stringent.   

In general, employers must complete basic labor certification and advertising requirements before they can petition for permanent residence status with an EB-2 Visa. Because of this rigorous process, employers must understand the process in order for their petitions to be approved.   

Understanding the process and completing all required steps will ensure that your petition has a better chance. So, it is recommended that you go through this process with the support of an immigration attorney.