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EB-2 Visa Requirements and Qualifying for the EB-2 Green Card

What is an EB-2 visa? The EB-2 is an employment-based immigrant petition that puts you on the path to a green card. Given that this work visa is employer-sponsored and part of the green card category, it is commonly pursued by foreign nationals who are looking for the opportunity to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. Permanent residency is a popular draw of the EB-2. So, how hard is it to get an EB-2 visa? As an employment-based green card category, the EB-2 visa is a second preference visa and is sponsored by your employer.

In the U.S., there are three types of employment-based green cards that follow the preference system. They are the EB-1, the EB-2, and the EB-3. The EB-1 is classified as first preference, the EB-2 is classified as second preference, and the EB-3 is classified as third preference. These classifications come from the U.S.’s perception of the value of the worker in each category to the U.S. economy.

The necessary qualifications for each preference are different and, generally, the EB-1 has a higher threshold than the EB-2 or EB-3. The EB-2 is an excellent option for professionals with advanced degrees or those with exceptional ability in their fields. We'll explain how exceptional ability is defined and how to qualify for it, below.

A key difference between the EB-1 and the EB-2 is the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process. The PERM application is the first step for certain foreign nationals in obtaining an employment-based green card. The PERM process can be lengthy. An employer must prove that there aren't any other qualified and willing American workers for the position.

EB-1 waives the PERM process. EB-2 does not. Learn more at the EB-2 Info Center, powered by Legalpad.

There are specific EB-2 visa requirements that every applicant must meet to be considered, depending on the applicant's credentials and accomplishments. There are two paths to qualify for EB-2: 

  • Advanced Degree
  • Exceptional Ability

To qualify for Advanced Degree, the employee must have completed one of two options:

  • A Master's degree or higher (PhD) OR a foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. Master's degree
  • A Bachelor's degree and five years of post-Bachelor progressive work experience

To qualify for exceptional ability, the employee must meet three of the following six criteria:

  • A related degree, diploma, or certificate from a university
  • 10 years of related full-time experience
  • A license of certification to practice the relevant profession
  • Salary that is above the 70th percentile 
  • Membership in a professional association 
  • Strong letters of reference from peers

Ultimately, USCIS will want to be assured that the presence of your exceptional ability in the American workforce will greatly benefit the U.S. economy, cultural or educational interests, or general welfare in the future.

Other EB-2 visa requirements include:

  • Evidence that you, the applicant, have full time employment with the company sponsoring your visa petition; unless you qualify for the National Interest Waiver, in which case you show evidence which proves that you are of great benefit to the U.S.
  • A filed and approved Labor Certification(even if you qualify for the National Interest Waiver).
  • Academic transcripts proving you have earned an advanced degree from either a university in the U.S. or a foreign equivalent.
  • A letter addressed from your employer, outlining and summarizing your progressive work experience in your specialty.

Now that you’re clear on what the EB-2 visa is - and what you need to do to qualify - let’s take a look at what the EB-2 visa application process entails and what documentation you will need.

  • Step 1: Your employer must first go through the PERM Labor Certification process. This essentially means that your employer must show that they tried to hire a qualified U.S. worker but were unable to do so successfully.
  • Step 2: Once your employer receives an approved labor certification, they must file a Form I-140 (immigrant petition) with USCIS.
  • Step 3: After your employer files the Form I-140, you must then apply for an immigrant visa or apply for an adjustment of status (if you are lawfully present inside the United States).
  • Step 4: Pay any fees that are due with your submission, and provide any and all supporting evidence or documentation that can help move your case forward.

Something to keep in mind with the EB-2 visa is that the PERM labor certification isn’t always required. If you, as an applicant, are filing with evidence of advanced degrees or exceptional ability - then you must have a PERM labor certification. If, however, you qualify for the National Interest Waiver, then your employer can waive the PERM labor certification process. National Interest Waiver applicants can skip the PERM labor certification process and file their own form I-140 (without needing an employer sponsor to submit on their behalf).

So next time you find yourself thinking about your immigration case, and you’re trying to remember what an EB-2 visa is (or if you are better suited for another visa category, for that matter) reach out. We’ll get you set up with your own dedicated specialists who will first help you determine which visa category is the best way forward for your individual circumstance, then diligently work with you to see your case through to approval.

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