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EB-2 Visas For Professionals With Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Abilities

At Wilson Law Group in Minneapolis, our immigration attorneys have been assisting employers and foreign professionals with visa petitions since 2003. If you are a professional who would like to immigrate to the United States or if you are a U.S.-based employer who is seeking to bring a foreign employee to the United States, our experienced attorneys can help you secure the appropriate visas.

What Is The EB-2 Visa?

The EB-2 visa offers a path to permanent residency in the U.S. for foreign nationals who are members of a profession holding an advanced degree (or its equivalent) or a foreign national who has exceptional ability in the arts, business, or sciences. Importantly, individuals in this category can seek a waiver of the often time-consuming process of a PERM labor certification process by applying for and obtaining a national interest waiver from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

Advanced Degree Requirement

Professionals with advanced degrees must hold an advanced degree or the equivalent in order to qualify under this category. An “advanced degree” is commonly known as the “bachelor’s and five” requirement, which means a bachelor’s degree (B.A./B.S.) or foreign equivalent plus 5 years of progressive, post-degree experience in the specialty.

Unlike an H-1B temporary visa, a bachelor’s degree for purposes of the EB-2 category cannot be demonstrated by a combination of experience and education. An EB-2 applicant must have a job offer and approved labor certification, unless USCIS has waived this requirement if it is in the national interest to do so (see below).

Exceptional Abilities Requirement

In the alternative to an advanced degree, a foreign national can qualify under this category if he or she possesses exceptional ability in the arts, business, or sciences. In order to show that the foreign national has exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, the petition must be accompanied by at least three of the following:

  • An official academic record showing the individual has a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, or school relating to area of exceptional ability
  • Evidence in the form of letter(s) from current or former employer(s) showing the alien has at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation for which he is sought
  • A license to practice the profession or certification for a profession or occupation
  • Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary or other remuneration that demonstrates exceptional ability
  • Evidence of membership in professional associations
  • Evidence of recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations

If the above standards do not readily apply to the foreign national’s occupation, comparable evidence may be submitted to establish his or her eligibility.

Persons possessing exceptional abilities may pursue a National Interest Waiver (NIW) to request a waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirements.

National Interest Waivers For EB-2 Visas

A National Interest Waiver (NIW) is available for the second preference employment-based category (EB-2) for Members of the Profession Holding Advanced Degrees or Aliens of Exceptional Ability. Typically, an applicant in the EB-2 category must have a job offer and PERM labor certification in order to apply for the petition. A national interest waiver, however, waives the job offer and labor certification requirement. An applicant may file an NIW on behalf of him or herself. Alternatively, a petitioning employer may also file a national interest waiver on behalf of the beneficiary foreign national.

Qualifications For A National Interest Waiver

In the Matter of New York State Department of Transportation, 22 I. & N. Dec. 215 (Comm. 1998), the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) articulated a three-prong test as the legal standard for determining whether to grant national interest waivers. Under this test, an applicant must meet the following three criteria:

  • The applicant seeks employment in an area of substantial intrinsic merit
  • The proposed benefit of the work will be national in scope
  • The national interest would be adversely affected if a job offer is required

Our immigration attorneys have decades of experience and can assess if your situation qualifies for an EB-2 visa with an advanced degree, exceptional abilities or a national interest waiver.

Consult With An Employment Visa Attorney For Free

Wilson Law Group welcomes the opportunity to help you assess your visa options and help you prepare an immigration strategy. Please contact us at 612-430-8022 or by sending an inquiry to schedule your free consultation.