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What is EB2-NIW?

The EB2-NIW visa is a great option for immigrants with exceptional ability or advanced degrees. If you are eligible, it can be a faster and more efficient way to get your green card than the traditional route. This article will explore the eligibility requirements and benefits of the EB2-NIW visa. The NIW waives the job offer and labor certification required for other EB2 visas.  If the case is approved, the applicant and his/her family receive a Green Card.

What is considered an advanced degree for the purpose of an EB-2-NIW petition?

Advanced degree is a Doctoral or Master’s degree or a Bachelor’s (4 years or more) plus 5 years of post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in the field. The evidence depends on the particular case and may include diplomas and academic transcripts, employment confirmation letters, and an expert letter if necessary.


What is “exceptional ability” for the purpose of EB2-NIW petition? What are the criteria for demonstrating exceptional ability?

Exceptional ability means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, business, or sports.

If an applicant does not have an advanced degree, s/he must meet at least three of the criteria below:

  • Official academic record showing that you have 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 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.

What documents should I present as evidence of “exceptional ability”?

The documentary evidence is very particular to each case, depending on the applicant’s educational and professional background and achievements. Some examples of evidences common to all cases are degrees and academic history, reference letters, and employment confirmation letters.


What are the differences between regular EB2 and EB2-NIW petitions?

In regular EB2 petitions, the petitioner is the employer and there must be a job offer and labor certification. NIW stands for National Interest Waiver and is a type of EB2 petition in which the applicant petitions for himself/herself. There is no need to present a job offer and labor certification, but, in addition to meeting the educational requirements,  the petitioner must prove that:

  • The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.

  • S/he 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.

How difficult it is to have an EB2-NIW petition approved?

EB2 NIW is one of the most complex immigration cases because of the amount and specificity of documentary evidence that must be submitted. Working with a qualified attorney is highly recommended to increase your probability of approval.


Family of EB2-NIW Visa Holders

The EB2 NIW application also covers the applicant’s spouse and unmarried children (or stepchildren) under 21 years of age, who will receive a Green Card if the case is approved.


What is a letter of recommendation for EB2 NIW?

A letter of recommendation for EB2 NIW describes the applicant’s exceptional qualifications, skills, and achievements demonstrating why the United States would benefit from having him/her in the country. These letters typically come from current or previous clients, employers, professors, or peers.


Can I apply for EB2 NIW from outside the USA? What is the difference?

Yes, you can apply for an EB2-NIW from outside the United States. In that case, the employment-based visa will first be analyzed in the United States by the USCIS and, once it is approved, you and your family will go through consular processing and an interview will be scheduled at the relevant Embassy or Consulate before you are allowed to come to the United States and receive your Green Card.

How long does it take until I submit my petition?

The entire process of gathering and organizing the necessary evidence and creating the argument usually takes 4-6 months.

Can I work and travel abroad while waiting for my petition to be approved?

When filing the EB2 application, you may also apply for employment and travel authorization for you and your family, which currently may take approximately 10 months to be approved. When these authorizations are granted, you and your family are allowed to legally work in the United States and travel abroad until the EB2 case is adjudicated.


How long will it take to process my petition?

The USCIS usually takes 12-24 months to process an EB2-NIW petition but timeframes vary.


Can I apply for premium processing? How does it work?

Yes, premium processing is available for an additional fee of $2,500.00, payable upon submission of the I-140 petition (or after). If you choose the premium processing service, the USCIS will adjudicate your case or send a Request for Evidence within 15 calendar days.


Will premium processing increase my chances of approval?

No, premium processing does not increase or reduce the chances of approval.

How long is an EB-2-NIW green card valid for?

The Green Card for EB2-NIW is permanent residency, and the actual card is valid for 10 years and can be renewed, After 5 years, provided that all conditions are met, you may apply for citizenship.

What documents should I present as evidence of “exceptional ability”?

The documentary evidence is very particular to each case, depending on the applicant’s educational and professional background and achievements. Some examples of evidences common to all cases are degrees and academic transcripts, reference letters, and employment confirmation letters.

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