Complete Guide to the EB2 Visa

Updated on August 11, 2023
At a Glance: The EB2 Visa, also known as the EB2 Green Card, is available for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in fields like medicine, arts, athletics, or business. It offers a pathway to permanent U.S. residence. Eligibility criteria include advanced degrees, exceptional ability, or a national interest waiver. Hiring an immigration attorney is recommended due to the scrutiny involved. Family members may also be eligible. Fees vary, and processing time can range from 18 months to several years based on individual circumstances and country of origin.

There are many people who are looking to move to the U.S. and start a new life or simply seek new job opportunities to make their life better or support their families.

But in order to get there, you need to obtain a green card, and one of the ways to do this is through the EB2 visa. Since this is one of the many visas out there, you may be wondering whether it’s the right one for you and whether it’s easy to get one or not.

If you’re still confused when it comes to this visa, we are here to tell you all you need to know about it.

What Is an EB2 Visa

The EB2 Visa is available for Advanced Degree Permanent Residence or Employment-Based “Exceptional” Ability. It is also known as the EB2 Green Card. It is meant for two types of people. First, it is intended for people who can demonstrate their “exceptional ability” in a certain field, such as medicine, arts, athletics, or business. Exceptional ability simply means much higher expertise than the normal one.

Secondly, this visa is also meant for members of certain professions who own an advanced degree or at least an equivalent of it.

Many immigrants are looking forward to this visa. Not only is it a great way to live in the U.S. while having a job and being able to support themselves, but it also created an easier and faster path towards permanent U.S. residence. But there is a lot of scrutiny from the USCIS surrounding this visa. Because of this, one should not simply assume that having the right documents and money to pay the fees will grant them the visa. Hiring an immigration attorney is always advised, especially if their track record shows success surrounding EB2 application cases.

EB2 Eligibility

So, we’ve established that not everyone is eligible for an EB2 visa. Still, there are a few routes you can take to obtain the visa you long for. Here are the routes available:

Advanced Degree

When someone applies for an EB2 visa and wants to work in the U.S., they should have an advanced degree or an equivalent of it. This might be a baccalaureate degree, for instance, as well as 5 years of progressive experience in the specific field.

Exceptional Ability

Apart from holding an advanced degree, an applicant should also prove their exceptional ability in their particular area. As mentioned earlier, this area could be either medicine, business, athletics, sciences, or arts.

Exceptional ability refers to being above the average level. In order to qualify under this, the applicant must meet at least 3 out of 7 criteria that the USCIS set. These criteria include:

  • Professional licenses
  • A great salary
  • Recognition in the specific field
  • Academic records
  • Professional association memberships
  • Letters that attest to the experience of the beneficiary

A PERM process will be necessary if one of the first two cases applies. During this process, the Department of Labor will ask for a market test that can show that there are no U.S.-legal-based workers who are qualified for the position the immigrant would take.

National Interest Waiver

In this situation, an exception will be made to the PERM requirement. If someone asks for a waiver for the Labor Certification due to being in the best interest of the U.S., then this is also a path to getting an EB2 visa.

There may not be any job offer requirement needed as long as there is evidence that all of this will be in the country’s national interest. So, this all means that the person wanting the visa can just directly petition for the EB2 without having to get a job offer first.

Thus, the National Interest Waiver cases can be very convenient, and for this reason, they are also preferred by many when applying for a visa. But despite that, the cases can be very complex, and handling them alone can be a true challenge. For this reason, having an experienced immigration lawyer around is always a benefit before you apply.

EB2 Visa Criteria

In order to qualify for an EB2 visa, one has to meet certain criteria. Here is what you require to be eligible:

  • Membership in a professional association
  • A license that allows you to practice your profession, or a profession or occupation certification
  • Letters that document at least around 10 years of full-time experience in your particular field
  • Official records from your academic experience that show you have a certificate, diploma, degree, or anything of the sort from a school, university, college, or any similar institution where you learned skills/info related to your particular area
  • Proof that you have gotten a salary or a remuneration for services that show your exceptional ability
  • Achievement recognition or any significant contribution recognition by your professional or business organizations, or your peers or government entities
  • Any other type of comparable eligibility proof

EB2 Visa NIW Criteria

In order to have the NIW process work for you, there are also some criteria you must meet first. Here they are:

  • You have the right position that allows you to advance the endeavor that was proposed
  • The proposed endeavor not only bears importance to the nation, but it also has substantial merit
  • Waiving the job offer requirements will be beneficial to the U.S.

When it comes to employment-based, second preference petitions, they should usually come with an Application for Permanent Employment Certification from the Department of Labor. This must be approved beforehand. However, you can also ask for a waiver through an NIW petition.

It’s usually the employer who files the Form I-140 to allow you to qualify for an EB2 visa, but when applying for an NIW, you can file the I-140 yourself. Your employer should also prove that he/she is able to continuously pay the salary offered on the priority date.

Family of EB2 Visa Holders

The good thing about the EB2 visa process is that if you get approval for your I-140 petition, your unmarried children under 21 and your spouse may be able to apply for U.S. admission as well. They can do so under the E-21 and E-22 immigrant status.

EB2 Visa Fees

There are different fees you will have to pay when applying for the EB2 visa. The I-140 filing fee is $700, and you may also pay an $85 biometrics fee. The I-485 filing fee depends on the applicant’s age. Usually, the price is between $750-$1,140.

Then, the DS-260 filing fee is $230, and the Affidavit of Support will also cost $88. Meanwhile, the PERM filing fee is free of charge.

EB2 Visa Processing Time

The processing time of the EB2 visa depends on each case. It usually takes around 18 months in total. In worst cases, it may take several years, but it depends on the country you’re from.

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The Bottom Line

An EB2 visa can be very convenient for a lot of immigrants, which is exactly why many might rush to apply for one. If you plan on doing it too, make sure to hire an immigration attorney to help you out and be prepared with all the necessary documents.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.