What is an EB-2 Visa?

The EB2 Visa, or EB2 Green Card, is a second preference employment-based visa that allows for permanent resident status. It is available for foreign nationals who hold an advanced degree or equivalent. You must also prove your “exceptional ability”, meaning significant expertise in your field.
There are three tiers of EB-2 Visas:

  • EB-2A Visa (Advanced Degree)
  • EB-2B Visa (Exceptional Ability)
  • EB-2C Visa (National Interest Waiver)

The U.S. Immigration Department allocates only 40,000 Green Cards for each category every year. All the information about the number of available permits is listed in the EB2 Visa bulletin.

In addition, you must also meet the requirements specified in your labor certification if applicable. Applicants who qualify may be eligible to bring their spouse and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) to the United States in E-21 (spouse) and E-22 (children) immigrant status.

Requirements for EB-2A Visa (Advanced Degree)

If you are applying for an EB-2A visa, you will need an advanced degree in your field or its foreign equivalent plus 5 years of post-baccalaureate or any other progressive work experience in your field. In addition, you must meet the other requirements specified in your particular labor certification.

In order to meet these requirements, you will need to submit any documentation that shows you have an advanced degree such as the following:

  • an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent
  • an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent
  • letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in your specialized field
  • a doctoral degree (or foreign equivalent)

Requirements for EB-2B Visa (Exceptional Ability)

To apply for EB-2B Visa you must demonstrate that you have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business. To have ‘exceptional ability’ means that you possess “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business”. In order to prove this expertise, you must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Official academic records showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or a 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/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
  • Any other comparable evidence of eligibility

Requirements for EB-2C Visa (National Interest Waiver)

Individuals with exceptional ability and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation can request that the Labor Certification be waived by applying for a national interest waiver. In order to apply for this waiver, the applicant must demonstrate that it is in the nation’s interest that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) waive the job offer requirement. To do this, the applicant must provide evidence of an advanced degree or exceptional ability along with meeting the National Waiver criteria which are as follows:

  •  The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance
  • The applicant is 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

Along with their self-petitioned Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker), those seeking a national interest waiver must also file their labor certification directly with USCIS.

What is the application process for these visas?

Applicants for EB-2A and EB-2B must first have their employer file Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker) and wait for their priority date (a spot to open up in the visa bulletin). Once a spot has opened up, they will be called to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if abroad) for an interview.

Those individuals who are seeking a national waiver can self-petition with their Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker). Employers for EB-2A and EB-2B applicants must be able to demonstrate that they can continually pay the offered wage whilst working in the U.S. To do this, the employer can submit an annual report, federal tax return, or audited financial statement to prove that they have the funds.

In order for the employer to sponsor a foreign worker for an EB-2 visa, the employer must first file with the US Department of Labor for Permanent Labor Certification using the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) System. To do this, the employer must meet the following requirements:

  • Certify that a job is available and is in a specialized professional field
  • Demonstrate that the job is also available to U.S. workers
  • Demonstrate that a foreign worker is needed
  • Demonstrate that the pay rate for the job is at a prevailing industry rate

To ensure that no qualified American workers are available for the employment position, employers must go through an extensive recruiting process. Once all the requirements are met, the Department of Labor will issue a PERM form and the employer can then sponsor a foreign worker for an EB-2 visa.

What are the fees?

Depending on your case and unique circumstance, the costs associated with an EB2 visa will vary. Overall, the cost of the application will consist of the following fees:

  •  Form I-140 (if you are self-petitioning): $700
  • Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application): $325
  • Affidavit of Support: $120
  • Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status), this form is if you are already in the U.S. under a different visa and need to adjust your status to an EB2 visa
  • USCIS Immigrant fee: $220
  • Medical Examination and required vaccinations: costs may vary
  • Certified Translations (if applicable): costs may vary
  • Travel expenses: costs may vary

Your U.S. employer will be responsible for any costs associated with acquiring a PERM form. Currently, there is no charge to the filing fee for the PERM form.

How long does it take to get an EB2 visa?

The processing time to get an EB2 varies depending on how long it takes for you to receive your priority date, in other words, for a spot to open up in the visa bulletin. The wait time for this will depend on a number of factors such as if there is a USCIS backlog of visa applications and what country an applicant is applying from. For instance, if you are applying from China or India, the wait time is much longer.

The average processing time for Form I-140 is around 6-9 months. Premium Processing is available for those who do not want to wait months for their Form I-140 to process. This type of expedited processing will process your visa application in 15 calendar days. If you choose to have your application premium processed, you must first file Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) and pay the $2,500 fee. Keep in mind that this service is not available for those EB2 visa applicants who are seeking a National Waiver.

For those who need a PERM Labor Certification, the process can take an additional 8 months to 2 years. This depends on how your employer conducts their recruitment process and if they are audited for it. If you need more details about this process and how long it will take, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced immigration attorney who can advise you on your timeline and options.

What happens at the Interview?

Since the EB2 visa is a worker’s visa that allows for permanent residency, you will be asked to attend an in-person interview at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are in the U.S. when filing, you will be asked to go to a local USCIS field office.

In this interview, the USCIS officer will call you into a private area, ask you to raise your right hand and promise to tell the truth then check your photo I.D. After this, the officer will ask you some questions regarding the information in your application visa file. Questions asked are normally at the interviewer’s discretion however the interview will likely ask you questions about your background, your job qualifications, details about your job offer in the U.S., and your employer.

After the interview, if the immigration official is satisfied with the answers given, your visa will be approved. It should be noted, that any dependents who are also on your visa application must attend an interview as well. However, the interview is waived for children under 14 years old. If you are attending the interview with your spouse or children, they will be asked certain personal questions as well like how long you and your spouse have been married, where were your children born, and any other relevant questions that prove you are in a bona fide relationship. This interview is more light and friendly than intimidating so try not to get too worried or stressed out about it.

What documents should I bring with me to the interview?

When you attend an interview at your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy for your immigrant visa, you will be asked to bring with you a number of documents. These may include the following:

  • A passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of entry into the U.S.
  • The confirmation page of the DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application)
  • Two 2×2 photographs that meet U.S. Visa standards
  • Any relevant immigration documents received after your petition was filed
  • A letter from your employer confirming employment
  • Completed Medical Examination and Proof of Vaccination Forms
  • Marriage and birth certificates if you are interviewing with your family who will also come with you to the U.S.

All documents submitted should be in their original form. These will be given back to you usually at the end of the interview.

Required Medical Examinations and Vaccinations

In order to be approved for a U.S. immigrant visa, all applicants must first complete a medical evaluation proving that they are healthy enough to enter and live in the United States without posing a risk to the general public. In addition to this medical examination, the applicant must also receive the required vaccinations.

Instructions for what specific vaccinations are needed along with the required medical examination form will be sent to the applicant in the first NVC packet. All medical forms must be signed by a licensed doctor. These will be included in the portfolio of evidence that will be submitted later.