What is an EB-2 Visa?

The EB-2 visa is an immigrant visa (preference category two) for U.S. employment-based permanent residency; it was created by the Immigration Act of 1990. EB-2 visas are second preference visas –– as opposed to EB1 visas (first preference) and EB3 visas (third preference). 

EB-2 visas are reserved for individuals who:

  • hold an advanced degree (or equivalent) in their field, 

or

  • display “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business.

EB-2 Requirements

EB-2 visas are employment-based, meaning that the alien in question must immigrate to secure a position in the U.S. A petition for a foreign professional holding an advanced degree may be filed when the job requires an advanced degree (beyond the baccalaureate), and the alien possesses such a degree or the equivalent. Alternatively, the alien may have a bachelor’s degree and at least five (5) years of experience. The petition must include documentation, such as an official academic record showing that the alien has a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree, or an official academic record showing that the alien has a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree and letters from current or former employers showing that the alien has at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate experience in the specialty.

EB-2 Qualifications

In order to achieve the classification of “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business, the alien must provide documentation for at least three of the following:

  • An official academic record showing the alien has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability.
  • Letters documenting at least ten (10) years of full-time experience in the occupation being sought.
  • A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation.
  • Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary or other remuneration for services, which demonstrates exceptional ability.
  • Membership in professional associations.
  • Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, government entities, professional, or business organizations.

There is one final way that an alien can attain an EB-2 visa. In some instances, aliens may be granted an EB-2 visa based on the National Interest Waiver (NIW). An NIW removes the requirement for a labor certification. To successfully apply for an NIW, an alien must 1) demonstrate that their immigration is of “national interest” to the U.S. and 2) meet at least three of the above criteria. (Source.)

EB-2 Priority Date

A visa applicant’s priority date determines their place in line for a visa or green card. Since the EB-2 visa is an employment-based visa and requires a labor certification, the priority date for an application is established when the Department of Labor receives a labor certification application. An applicant’s priority date will determine the order in which their case is reviewed. (So cases filed in March of 2019 will come under review before those filed in June of 2019.) (Source.)

EB-2 Application Process

The EB-2 application process generally follows three steps. 

  1. An employer must file their interest in hiring an alien with the Department of Labor for a Permanent Labor Certification using the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) System.
    1. Employers must also demonstrate that the job in question is available to U.S. workers, explain why the alien applicant is needed for the job, and show that the salary for the job is industry rate. 
  2. After the Department of Labor grants a PERM form, the employer sponsoring the alien must complete and file Form I-140 –– Petition for Alien Worker.
  3. Applicants are allowed to progress to the next step based on their priority date. This final stage of the process involves either an interview with a consular officer at a US Consulate with the alien worker, or –– for individuals who are already living in the U.S. on a different visa –– filing for an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485). (Source.)

EB-2 Visa Alternatives

As mentioned above, an EB-2 visa is one of several employment-based visas available to alien workers. The others are EB1 and EB3 visas. EB1 visas are reserved for aliens who are outstanding professors, researchers, certain multinational executives and managers, or individuals with “extraordinary ability.” Applicants for EB3 visas, meanwhile, include professionals, skilled workers, and other workers.

Contact An EB-2 Lawyer

Our managing EB-2 attorney Karen-Lee Pollak and experienced immigration support team will work with you to determine the best possible employment preference category for you.

Our firm provides full-service professional legal advice and representation to help you find an immigration solution to your visa needs. Please contact us to discuss your Immigration options.

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