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EB-2 NIW Visa

What is EB-2 Visa?

The EB-2 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa category in the United States designed for professionals with advanced degrees or individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.

The two subcategories of the EB-2 visa are as follows:

Advanced Degree Professionals: This category is for individuals who hold an advanced degree or its equivalent (a bachelor's degree plus five years of progressive work experience in the field).

Exceptional Ability: This category is for individuals who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, which means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in their field.

The EB-2 visa is considered a preference category because it has a limited number of visas available each fiscal year. It is known for its relatively faster processing times compared to some other employment-based immigrant visa categories.

Typically, with employment based visas, you would require an employer to act as a sponsor and obtain a labor certification. However, with the National Interest Waiver (NIW) option, applicants do not need an employer sponsor or labor certification, which can simplify the process.

Comparison to Other Common U.S. Visa Types

Other Permanent Employment Based (EB) visas: 

  • EB-1: For individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives or managers. Does not require labor certification. Typically requires higher ability and achievement thresholds than the EB-2

  • EB-3: Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers - similar to EB-2 and requires employer sponsorship, but has less stringent qualification requirements

  • EB-4: Special immigrants (including religious workers, certain international broadcasters, and other categories) - niche occupations that do not apply for most people

  • EB-5: investment based visa, requires monetary investment in specific types of businesses

Other Temporary Worker visas:

  • H-1B: Specialty occupations - requires employer sponsorship, annual lottery process with low rates of selection due to high number of applicants

  • L-1: Intracompany transferees - can only be used by employee transfers from international companies

  • E-1/E-2: Treaty traders and investors - can only be used for international trade professionals or business owners

  • TN: NAFTA professionals - specialized occupations for citizens of Canada and Mexico only


Because the EB-2 NIW visa is granted on the basis of both ability and national interest, the way that your application package is put together is extremely important in the rate of success. Each client has very different credentials and abilities and the Crimson team is solely dedicated to understanding every client’s and building a highly personalized and cohesive application package.

There are two parts to qualifying for the EB-2 NIW visa. First, you must meet the eligibility criteria for the EB-2 visa based on holding an advanced degree or proving exceptional ability. Then, you must obtain the NIW by proving your endeavors are in the interest of the US.

1a. Criteria for Advanced Degree:

  • You have a U.S. advanced degree (master's or above) or a foreign equivalent degree

  • or a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree and letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialty

  • If a doctoral degree is customarily required in your field, you must have a United States doctorate or foreign equivalent degree

1b. Criteria for Exceptional Ability:

You must meet at least 3 of the 7 criteria below:

  • 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 from current or former employers 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

2. Criteria for National Interest Waiver:

To qualify for an NIW, applicants must meet all three of the following criteria:

  • The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance

  • You are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor

  • On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer, and thus the labor certification

Timeline and Process

EB-2 NIW visas typically take 6 to 25+ months to process depending on the number of applications being processed at the time and the competency of the application being submitted. Therefore, it’s imperative to start working with us as early as possible to ensure a timely result.

Typical Process Steps:

  1. Determine Eligibility:

    • Gather evidence to demonstrate your eligibility, such as achievements, recognitions, publications, awards, etc.

  2. File Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker:

    • Submit Form I-140 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including supporting documentation that proves your eligibility for the specific EB-2 subcategory with National Interest Waiver.

  3. Premium Processing (Optional):

    • Consider using premium processing if you want expedited processing for an additional fee. This allows for a faster adjudication process.

  4. Wait for USCIS Decision:

    • USCIS will review your petition and make a decision. If approved, you will receive a Notice of Action (Form I-797).

  5. Obtain Visa and Travel to the U.S.:

    • If approved, you will receive an immigrant visa on your passport. Travel to the U.S. within the visa validity period.

  6. Obtain a Green Card:

    • Once in the U.S., individuals with EB-2 visas can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to obtain a green card (permanent residency).

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