Complete Guide to the EB2 Visa

Updated on April 4, 2024

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.

Read More

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.

Complete Guide to the EB-2 Visa FAQ

What is the EB-2 Visa?

The EB-2 Visa is a U.S. employment-based immigrant visa category designed for individuals with advanced degrees, exceptional abilities, or who can demonstrate their significant contributions in certain fields. It is one of the preference categories within the employment-based immigration system.

What are the key eligibility criteria for the EB-2 Visa?

To qualify for the EB-2 Visa, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Advanced Degree: You must hold an advanced degree or its foreign equivalent (such as a master’s or Ph.D.) and have a job offer in the United States that requires that degree.
  2. Exceptional Ability: You must demonstrate exceptional ability in your field, which typically includes showing a high degree of expertise, recognition, and a significant track record of achievements.
  3. National Interest Waiver (NIW): Under certain circumstances, individuals may be eligible for an NIW, which allows them to self-petition and waive the requirement of a job offer and labor certification if their work is deemed to be of national interest to the United States.

What is the labor certification requirement for the EB-2 Visa?

For most EB-2 applicants, a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor is required. This process involves your employer demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the job, and therefore, hiring you will not adversely affect U.S. workers.

What is the National Interest Waiver (NIW) for the EB-2 Visa?

The NIW is a unique feature of the EB-2 Visa that allows certain individuals, such as those with exceptional abilities or advanced degrees, to bypass the labor certification requirement and the need for a specific job offer. To qualify for an NIW, you must demonstrate that your work is of significant national interest to the United States.

What are the steps to apply for the EB-2 Visa?

The application process for the EB-2 Visa typically involves the following steps:

  1. Labor Certification (if required): Your employer initiates the labor certification process to demonstrate the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers for the job.
  2. File Form I-140: Once the labor certification is approved or the NIW is granted, your employer files Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, on your behalf.
  3. Priority Date: Your I-140 petition establishes your priority date, which is crucial for tracking visa availability in the EB-2 category.
  4. Visa Bulletin: Monitor the monthly Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State to check when your priority date becomes current.
  5. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: Depending on your location and circumstances, you may either apply for adjustment of status within the U.S. or attend an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

What is the priority date, and why is it important for the EB-2 Visa?

The priority date is the date when your Form I-140 is filed with USCIS. It plays a critical role in determining when you can proceed with the final steps of the EB-2 Visa application process, either through adjustment of status or consular processing. Visa numbers are allocated based on priority dates, and applicants must wait for their priority date to become current in the Visa Bulletin to move forward.

How long does it take to obtain an EB-2 Visa?

The processing time for the EB-2 Visa can vary widely based on several factors, including the applicant’s country of birth, the caseload at USCIS and the National Visa Center, and the specific visa category (advanced degree, exceptional ability, or NIW). It can range from several months to several years.

Can my family members accompany me on the EB-2 Visa?

Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age can accompany you to the U.S. on derivative visas. They will typically receive EB-2 dependent visas (e.g., E-21 for spouses and E-22 for children). They can also apply for work or study permits in the U.S. if they wish.

Can I apply for a Green Card (Lawful Permanent Residency) with the EB-2 Visa?

Yes, the EB-2 Visa is an employment-based immigrant visa that can lead to U.S. lawful permanent residency (Green Card) for the visa holder and their eligible family members. Once you obtain the Green Card, you have the right to live and work permanently in the United States.

Can I change employers while my EB-2 Visa application is in process?

In some cases, you may be able to change employers during the EB-2 Visa application process. However, it can complicate the process, especially if the new job does not meet the same criteria as the original petition. Consult with an immigration attorney for guidance on changing employers during the application process.

How can I find out more about the specific requirements and procedures for the EB-2 Visa?

For detailed and up-to-date information on the specific requirements and procedures for the EB-2 Visa, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney or visit the official website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at www.uscis.gov. An attorney can provide personalized guidance based on your individual circumstances and goals.

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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.

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