Who Is Eligible for an EB-2 Visa?
Employment-based, second preference permanent worker visas, or “EB-2 visas,” are available to certain foreign nationals who are professional workers with an advanced degree or its equivalent, or have an exceptional ability. The United States recognizes that immigrants bring a wealth of experience, talents, and knowledge to the table, which is why US immigration offers lawful permanent residence through an EB-2 visa. As such, EB-2 visa holders are lawful permanent residents, also known as Green Card holders.
However, having an advanced degree or exceptional ability does not automatically qualify you for an EB-2 visa. You must meet strict eligibility requirements and complete each step in the application process properly before obtaining this type of employment-based visa.
Employer-sponsored EB-2 visas are designated for foreign nationals who have an advanced degree or its equivalent or have an exceptional ability. On the other hand, self-petition EB-2 visas are available for individuals who do NOT have an employer sponsor but believe their presence in the US would be in the country’s best interest.
That said, EB-2 Green Cards can benefit both the beneficiary and the United States altogether. We explain the occupational categories and requirements for EB-2 visas below.
EB-2 Visas for Advanced Degree or Its Foreign Equivalent
To qualify for an EB-2 Green Card under this category, the US job you applied for must require an advanced degree and you must have such degree or its foreign equivalent. For instance, you must have a bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent in addition to 5 years of post-bachelors, progressive work experience in the field that you wish to work in. In addition, your employer must sponsor you for an EB-2 advanced degree visa. To prove that you meet these criteria, you must provide documentation such as:
- An official academic record showing that you have a US advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree
- An official academic record showing that you have a US bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent degree in addition to letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 5 years of progressive post- bachelor’s work experience in the specialty
- If a doctoral degree is required, you must prove that you have a US doctorate degree or its foreign equivalent
EB-2 Exceptional Ability Visa
To prove exceptional abilities for an EB-2 visa, you must show that you have a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business. For this reason, you must have at least 3 of the following documents below to qualify for an EB-2 exceptional ability visa:
- An official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
- Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
- A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
- Membership in a professional association(s)
- Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
- Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable
As with EB-2 visas for advanced degrees, an employer must sponsor you for an EB-2 exceptional ability visa.
National Interest Waiver for EB-2 Green Cards
Foreign nationals who have an exceptional ability that would benefit the US and do NOT have a job lined up in the US can self-petition for an EB-2 visa. The laws do not specify which jobs qualify for a national interest waiver, although, they are usually granted to those who have an exceptional ability (explained above) and are of significant national interest to the US, meaning you must show that your employment in the US would greatly benefit our country’s economy, employment, education, housing, environment, culture, or other important functions.
Rather than having an employer sponsor you as they would for the other types of EB-2 visas described above, you can self-petition and get the labor certification requirement waived. As such, you will file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker directly with USCIS. You will be required to provide evidence of an advanced degree or exceptional ability as well as meet the following 3 elements to show that the job offer (labor certification) requirement should be waived:
- The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance
- You are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor
- It would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer, and thus the labor certification
What is labor certification? Employer-sponsored EB-2 visas require employers to obtain a labor certification from the US Department of Labor. That said, labor certification means that there are not US workers who are willing, able, qualified, and available to work the particular job, making it necessary for the US employer to recruit foreign workers. With this in mind, national interest waivers allow petitioners like yourself to get the labor certification requirement waived and self-petition for an EB-2 Green Card.
Trustworthy & Transparent Counsel Is a Call Away at (805) 467-6060!
Our lawyers at Appel & Morse help clients achieve their American Dream, one step at a time. We believe the United States is strongest when it welcomes diverse and talented individuals from around the world to live and work in the nation, which is why it is our mission to help you obtain an EB-2 visa if you qualify.
To discuss your situation and determine if you are eligible, schedule your consultation online or at (805) 467-6060!