EB-2 Advanced Degree/Exceptional Professionals and National Interest Waiver

Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB-2) Visa

What is the EB-2 visa?
The EB-2 visa is an immigrant visa for professionals with advanced degrees and people with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.

What are the requirements for an EB-2 visa?

  • If you are applying as an advanced-degree holder, the job that you apply for must require an advanced degree, and you must have such a degree – or a bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive work experience in the field.
  • If you are applying as someone with exceptional ability, you must show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means “expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”
  • Whether you’re an advanced-degree holder or someone with exceptional ability, you are generally required to have a job offer and a labor certification issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.

What strategic considerations should I keep in mind?

  • The EB-2 visa petition must generally include an approved individual labor certification from the Department of Labor.
  • However, if you have exceptional ability and can show that your employment in the U.S. would greatly benefit the nation, you may qualify for a national interest waiver, which would waive the labor certification requirement.
  • The criteria for granting an EB-2 visa based on exceptional ability are numerous, and can include any three of the following: college diploma relating to your area of exceptional ability; letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation; a professional license in your field; salary records showing compensation for your exceptional ability; or membership in a professional association.
  • Your spouse and children under age 21 may be admitted to the U.S. in E-21 and E-22 immigrant status, respectively. While you and your spouse are applying for permanent resident status, your spouse may file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

The employment-based, second preference visa is for members of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent or for individuals with an exceptional ability. The employer is required to apply for labor certification unless the employment or entrepreneurial activity serves the national interest.

How do I qualify for this visa?

  • Individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business, OR
  • Professionals with advanced degrees or equivalent (e.g. bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressively responsible experience)
  • Individuals who can demonstrate that it is in the national interest that they work permanently in the United States. Such individuals must be a professional holding advanced degree or an alien of exceptional ability. If the services rendered by these individuals benefit the national interest, the labor certification may be waived. This is known as national interest waiver (NIW). It is not necessary to have an employer in the NIW context. As such, an individual may self-petition for a NIW. Professionals and exceptional ability individuals who may qualify for the national interest waiver include:
    • Individuals in sciences and arts employed in areas of substantial intrinsic merit
    • Professionals such as physicians employed full-time in medically underserved areas, Veteran’s Administration facilities, and federal or state agencies where the physician’s work has been deemed to be in the national interest.
    • Other professionals who qualify in this category are physical therapists and other fields of endeavor where the minimum requirement is a master’s degree or the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree and five years of progressively responsible experience related to the job offer.
    • National interest waiver entrepreneurs whose business will serve the interest of the United States.