The EB-2 Visa (or EB2 Green Card) is the Second Preference employment-based green card category for immigrants of exceptional ability or advanced degrees. Second Preference applicants must have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor (DOL), or Schedule A designation, or establish that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program.
A job offer is required, though those considering this visa path may apply for exemption from the job offer and labor certification requirement if the exemption would be in the national interest of the United States.
Applicants are categorized based on their skills, background, and knowledge. Depending on your qualifications, it can offer a relatively fast and straightforward route to permanent U.S. residence. The legal spouse and minor children (unmarried and under 21) of an EB2 green card holder may also be allowed to stay in the U.S.
The EB-2 visa process is a multi-step process, and due to the complexities and abundance of evidence required, this type of case does come under close scrutiny by the United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS offers premium processing that expedites the processing times to 15 calendar days for an additional fee.
Applicants are strongly advised to hire an immigration attorney that has a track record in successful EB2 applications.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR AN EB-2 VISA?
This highly desirable visa is available to three types of applicants:
- Those who hold an advanced degree or its equivalent; or
- Those who have an exceptional ability, expertise that is significantly higher than the norm, in the sciences, arts, or business.
- Those who are seeking to enter the US without a pre-existing job offer and can provide evidence that gaining legal permanent residence is in national interest of the United States.
EB-2 (A) – ADVANCED DEGREE
The applicant who is seeking employment in the United States must hold an advanced degree or equivalent. This means that they must hold a master’s degree or have equivalent qualifications; such as a U.S. baccalaureate degree or equivalent, and usually a minimum of five years of progressive and substantial experience in their field.
These applicants must also have a confirmed job offer in the U.S. The job offered must be appropriate to their qualifications and must require an advanced degree or the equivalent, meaning the applicant should not be underqualified.
EB-2(A) APPLICANTS MUST PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS:
- Proof of an advanced degree, such as a master’s or Ph.D.;or
- Proof of a baccalaureate degree and at least 5 years of experience in your field; and
- Proof of a job offer in the U.S. requiring an advanced degree or the equivalent.
EB-2 (B) – EXCEPTIONAL ABILITY
This immigrant visa is also available to those immigrants who can prove exceptional ability in their area of expertise. These areas include the arts or sciences, business, medicine, or athletics. The law does not specify the definition of “exceptional ability.” However, that does not mean that there aren’t specific requirements. Like in the EB-2 (A) category, the applicant must also have a confirmed job offer in the U.S.
Exceptional ability seen as “significantly above that normally encountered” and the applicant must submit evidence that they meet at least three of seven criteria set by USCIS.
The possible criteria are as follows:
- Academic record of a degree relating to the field;
- At least 10 years of full-time work experience in the field;
- Professional licenses or certifications;
- A high salary indicative of the exceptional ability in the field;
- Membership of professional associations in your field;
- Proof that your contributions to your field have been recognized by peers, or prizes and awards;
- Other comparable evidence of exceptional ability is also accepted, such as significant media attention.
For either the EB-2 (A) or the EB-2 (B), the first step in the application is called PERM – where a Permanent Labor Certification test is performed using the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) System. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) requires this market test be performed in order to prove there are no qualified and legal workers in the United States for the position in question.
However, there is a possible third option for those qualified applicants which provides an exception to the PERM requirement.
EB-2 (C) – NATIONAL INTEREST WAIVER
The National Interest Waiver (NIW) allows the applicant to “self-petition,” meaning they do not need an employer to sponsor them and the job offer requirement can be disregarded, and may file their labor certification directly with USCIS.
The jobs that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined, and this category of visa is usually granted to those who have exceptional ability (see above) and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation. The applicants must provide documentation proving that the PERM process should be waived because it is in the interest of the United States.
NIW cases can be preferable to other employment-based green card options, however they tend to be even more complex and may involve extensive scrutiny by USCIS. It is vital that an immigrant considering this option speak with an experienced immigration attorney about their situation before starting the application process.
As well as providing evidence of an advanced degree or exceptional ability, and meeting three of the criteria listed above, the applicant must also meet the 3 National Interest Waiver criteria below:
- The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
- The applicant is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor;
- It would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer.
Contact a skilled immigration attorney at the Law Office of 360 Immigration Law Group for help with your EB-2 visa application, labor certification or other critical business immigration matters. Our highly skilled tri-lingual legal team is committed to helping clients all over the globe to navigate the U.S. immigration system. We provide thorough representation and responsive support, from gathering the necessary documentation through preparing for an interview and completing the final paperwork.
If you’re serious about discovering how to win your permanent residence . . . call us now.
Let’s schedule your Legal Strategy and Planning Session today.