What is an EB2 Visa?
The EB2 visa is the second preference of the US employment-based immigration visas. You can be granted permanent residency and can work in the US with the EB2 immigrant visa, also known as the EB2 green card. The visa has 3 subcategories, which are as follows:
- EB-2A Visa – Advanced Degree
- EB-2B Visa – Exceptional Ability
- EB-2C Visa – National Interest Waiver
Though each of these three categories has its own specific requirements, they all require expertise in associated fields. Furthermore, each category has a maximum of 40,000 slots in a year.
Who is eligible for the EB2 visa?
You can apply for the EB2 visa if you have exceptional ability or an advanced degree in a profession. The basic eligibility criteria are different for the 3 subcategories.
For EB2A – Advanced Degrees
You must have one or more advanced degrees to apply for the EB2A visa. This could be a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. In addition, you also need at least 5 years of progressive work experience.
Required documents include:
- An official academic record showing an advanced degree from a US institution or its foreign equivalent.
- An official academic record showing a bachelor’s degree from a US institution or its foreign equivalent.
- Recommendation letters from current or former employers to prove your working experience.
It’s worth noting that not all advanced degrees qualify for the EB2A, some of the ones that do are:
- Master’s, Ph.D.
- Juris Doctor (J.D. or law degree)
- M.D. (medicine).
For EB2B – Exceptional Ability
This subcategory requires exceptional ability in arts, sciences, or business. Exceptional ability implies having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
Your ability must be able to add both substantial merit and value to the US economy, educational or cultural interests, or welfare. A US job offer is also important for approval.
Required documents include:
- Proof of at least 10 years of full-time working experience.
- Official record of academic qualification – degree, diploma, or any other certificate of value.
- License or certification to practice your profession.
- Proof that you are recognized in your profession – awards and prizes.
- Proof that you’re a member of professional associations in your profession.
- Proof that you earn a moderate salary for your level of ability
- Any other comparable evidence of your exceptional ability.
For EB2C – National Interest Waiver
The EB2C subcategory lets you apply for an employment-based immigrant visa without having a US job offer. It also waives the requirement for Labour Certification. For this, you must prove beyond doubt that your extraordinary ability is in the nation’s (United States’) interest.
The usually required documents for the EB2C are the same as that of the EB2B. In addition, National Interest Waiver cases require that:
- The proposed endeavor is both worthwhile and significant in terms of national importance.
- The applicant is in a good position to move forward with the proposed endeavor.
- Waiving the conditions of a job offer, and hence the labor certification would benefit the United States.
What is the application process for the EB2 Visa?
The EB2 visa application process is similar for the EB2A and EB2B but different for the EB2C. Applicants under the EB2A and EB2B categories must first obtain a permanent labor certification from the US Department of Labor. The application will be submitted by their employer. After going through the labor certification process, the employers can then proceed to submit a petition for the EB2 green card to the USCIS on behalf of the employees.
But for the national interest waiver (EB2C), applicants don’t need to obtain a labor certification. They can submit their EB2 green card petition directly to the USCIS. They can also self-file the petition, as they don’t need an employer to process the visa on their behalf.
The USCIS green card petition for all three categories is known as Form I-140 – Petition for Alien Worker.
Employer Petition (EB2A & EB2B)
Your employer must enrol you in the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) system. This will validate your labor certification. To successfully register you in the PERM system, they must prove that:
- The job is in a professional field
- The job is available to US workers
- No quailed US worker is available to fill the position, and a foreign worker is needed.
- The salary follows prevailing pay in the industry.
Once you’re enrolled, they can then file Form I-140 to start the application process. They’ll also pay all applicable fees. You only have to provide any information or document they request. Afterwards, you wait for your priority date.
Your priority date becomes “current” once there’s an open spot in the visa bulletin. Next, you have to go for an interview and biometrics service if applicable.
The EB2C doesn’t require PERM enrolment. You can start with filing Form I-140. This form is available on the official USCIS website for you to download. Complete all sections and sign the form. File it according to the current address on the USCIS website.
Before filing, you must pay your filing fee. You’ll get a receipt notice from the USCIS to confirm that they received your petition. Afterwards, you wait for your interview date.
If you’re already in the US on a different visa, you have to file Form I-485 to adjust your status.
But if you are outside the US, you will need to undergo consular processing at a US embassy or consulate, where you will obtain an immigrant visa to travel to the US. Also, if you have family members to bring along, they will also need to obtain a visa through the same consular processing.
What are the fees?
The required fees for EB2 application may vary, depending on each applicant’s specific situation. This is because your current location and choice to use certain optional services may determine the exact amount you will spend. However, the following fees are generally applied.
- Form I-140 filing fee: $700
- USCIS Immigrant fee: $220
- Form DS-260 filing fee: $325 (if you are undergoing consular processing).
- Form I-864 filing fee: $120
- Form I-485 filing fee: varies depending on age and other factors. The minimum amount is $750, while the maximum amount is $1,225 ($1,140 for form fee and $85 for biometrics). You can check the correct fee for your status on the USCIS website.
- Premium processing service fee (optional): $1,440. This service is only available to EB2A and EB2B applicants. You cannot use it if you are applying for the national interest waiver (EB2C) category. The premium processing service helps applicants expedite their Form I-140 petition process, as they can receive a decision from USCIS within 15 days.
In addition to the above fees, you may also have to pay for the following services, which also vary depending on your location and the service providers.
- Medical examination and vaccination
- Certified translations; if you provide non-English documents
Medical Examination and Vaccination
A medical examination is mandatory for all US visa applications to prove that the applicant is healthy enough for entry into the US. Proof of vaccinations for certain illnesses is mandatory as well.
The medical examination should be done by a licensed doctor. You’ll get all information about where to do your examination and the necessary vaccinations from the National Visa Center (NVC).
This is after your application is processed. You must complete your examination and vaccinations before going for your interview. The doctor will give you a sealed package to submit, and you must not open it yourself – it must remain sealed. It is one of the documents you will take to your visa interview.
Documents You’ll Need
You may need to present the following documents at your EB2 visa interview:
- International passport valid for at least 6 months from your expected date of entry into the US
- Passport-size photographs according to US visa standards
- Confirmation pages for all submitted forms. The Form I-140 confirmation page is the most important if you’re self-petitioning.
- Proof of medical examination and vaccination
- Labour certification from your employer for EB2A and EB2B
- Marriage and birth certificates if you filed Form DS-260 for family members
- Any other specified document
You must go with only original documents for your interview. Certified translations are mandatory, too, if the documents are not in English.
EB2 Visa Interview
The embassy of the immigration office in charge of your case will notify you when and where to appear for your EB2 visa interview. It is important to prepare for the interview by gathering all the necessary documents ahead of time.
An officer will typically ask you questions about your qualifications, job history, background, and other details relating to your application.
Your answers must align with the information you submitted in your application forms. If you’re filing for family members, they too must attend the interview if within the age range of 14 to 79.
How long does EB2 Visa processing take?
After submitting your petition, you will have to stay in the visa waiting line for a visa number to be available to you. This is usually determined by the number of people ahead of you in the same category. Because it is a cap-based visa, there is a limited number of EB2 visas issued annually, and as such, USCIS processes petitions in chronological order. That is a first-come, first-served basis. On average, it takes 6 to 9 months to process Form I-140.
You simply need to constantly check with USCIS and the monthly visa bulletin country to know when a spot opens. Your employer may request Premium Processing Service for the Form I-140 petition by filing Form I-907.
USCIS will process your EB2 visa in just 15 days with premium processing.
After your application
It’s either the USCIS approve or deny your visa application. If approved, the embassy will stamp your passport with the EB2 visa stamp. If denied, you can file a motion or appeal the decision with the help of an immigrant attorney.
EB2 Visa Application Approval
You’ll see an expiration date on the visa affixed inside your international passport. It’s mandatory that you enter the United States within the visa validity period. The embassy will give you a sealed packet after your approval. You’re not to open this packet but instead submit it to an immigration officer at your point of entry.
If you’ve not paid the USCIS immigrant fee, you won’t be allowed entry. You’ll get your EB2 green card when you arrive in the US as Form I-151 or Form I-551. This could take a while to process. Before it comes, you can use the alien number stamped on your passport as your work permit.
EB2 Visa Application Denial
If you apply for EB2A or EB2B subcategory and your petition is denied, you shouldn’t take any decision; leave it to your employer to handle.
For the EB2C, you should only appeal or file a motion if you believe and can prove that the verdict is wrong. A second denial could affect your future visa chances in other visa categories.
If the denial is due to a lack of necessary information or documents, you can get these documents and submit them immediately. This is most common in applications that require administrative processing.
The denial can be lifted after reprocessing without you reapplying. You have a year to provide the needed documents and information. Otherwise, you have to reapply. Reapplying means starting the visa process from scratch. You have to submit all the forms, documents and repay the fees.
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Obtaining an EB2 green card can be hard or easy, depending on each applicant’s preparedness and due diligence. Just like other US immigration programs, the EB2 visa also has its own stringent and grey areas.
Applicants are required to provide the necessary proof to convince the immigration officers of their eligibility. The long process and documentation involved can be overwhelming and confusing for some applicants.
This sometimes leads to delay or denial. To avoid such situations, it is always advisable to work with an immigration lawyer.
Though the EB2 category is more stringent, it is considered a more valuable category than the EB3 visa. The national interest waiver option even makes it more prestigious, as there is no need for labor certification and a job offer from a US employer. The EB3, by the way, is the third preference in the list of employment-based green card categories.
Your spouse can only work if they gain legal permanent residence or own an EAD (Employment Authorization Document).
Find out if your partner could be eligible for the US Spouse Visa.
EB2 Visas can be preferable to other employment-based Green Card options. However, they tend to be more complicated to get, since the USCIS will carry out an extensive investigation of your case. Therefore, you need the guidance of an experienced lawyer.
Our immigration lawyers have already successfully completed several complex cases. We are happy to assist you with your application, taking care of every step in the process using our citizenship and immigration services.
Our service includes:
- Review if you meet the EB2 requirements;
- Check your supporting documentation;
- If you are self-petitioning, we can help you complete your application forms to the highest standard;
- Liaise with your sponsor and the DOL;
- Provide our best support for your PERM Certification.
Get in touch with an IAS experienced immigration attorney today for any immigration-related service. Call us on +1844 290 6312 or fill out our contact form.