There are several categories for employment-based sponsorship to green cards. The EB-2 category (employment based second preference category) is one category which itself has several sub-categories and options. The EB-2 category is often advantageous over the EB-3 category because the time to wait for a visa is usually shorter. The EB-2 category though, unlike the EB-3 category which is available for almost any type of position or for a person of any educational background, requires that the person either have an advanced degree (or equivalent) or be a person of exceptional ability.
The EB-2 category still most often requires the filing of a labor certification application (through the PERM program) with the U.S. Department of Labor but there are situations, as with the National Interest Waiver, where this is not required in the EB-2 category
The 2nd Preference EB-2 is a type of visa restricted to those workers from abroad who have advanced degrees and unique skill sets. That means that this visa isn’t for everybody—however, depending on your specific situation, it may be the best and fastest solution to achieve you or your company’s immigration goals and to provide a green card.
Essentially, this visa is carved out for those professionals who hold advanced degrees (or the equivalent of advanced degrees), or exceptional skills. The phrase “exceptional skills” can lead to some confusion. Keep in mind that these exceptional skills have to be necessary for the type of work you’re to perform in the United States, and that there will likely need to be some documentation proving these exceptional abilities. In other words, this visa is not for those who are performing low-skill labor.
Who is eligible for this type of visa? According to the law, you should fit into one of the following categories:
Those with advanced degrees. An advanced degree is a degree higher than a bachelor’s degree. This generally means at least a Master’s Degree. The alternative is that the alien holds the equivalent of an advanced degree, which means a Bachelor’s Degree plus five years of progressive experience in the field. Additionally, not only should you hold an advanced degree, but the job for which you’re applying should also require an advanced degree on whoever fills that need. It’s not enough to hold an advanced degree—it should be demonstrable that you’re coming to the United States to perform the work for which you’ve been trained and educated.
Those with exceptional abilities. This is a term of art meaning “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” Proving this level of ability requires showing, through a variety of different kinds of evidence, that the person has unique and significant abilities and talents. Evidence can include letters, employment records, evidence of high salary, evidence of contributions to the alien’s field, and other comparable evidence.
National Interest Waivers. This is a unique situation in which the immigrant may request a waiver of Labor Certification for the sake of the interest of the United States. As you might imagine, there is a burden required here to demonstrate that this immigration would be of benefit to the United States—and because there is no specific statute that explicitly defines this national interest, this can be a difficult route for some.
As with many things with U.S. immigration, the most important step is often to work with a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney so as to select, utilize, and properly file a case in the category that best fits your goals and needs.