This category works well for Individuals with “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business. Some great benefits of this green card category are that you can skip the entire PERM labor certification process with the U.S. Department of Labor, and you can also self-petition. This means you can file without a company sponsoring! Since there is no PERM, you do not need a U.S. employer to embark on the lengthy investment of obtaining a labor certification by testing and proving to the U.S. government that there are no qualified U.S. workers. Instead, you need to show that permanently employing the exceptional individual would greatly benefit the U.S.!
How do I apply?
You can self-sponsor for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) or you can have an employer sponsor you. In either case, a Form I-140 petition must be filed along with the evidence of your qualifications.
Am I eligible?
If you have at least a master’s or higher degree or equivalent experience in your field, you can skip this step. If you don’t, you can prove you are a person of exceptional ability to by showing at least three of the following:
- Academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution relating to your area of exceptional ability
- Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your field
- License to practice your profession or certification for your profession
- You have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
- Membership in a professional association(s) that require an invitation or special selection process
- 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
In addition to the above criteria, National Interest Waiver applicants need to also show:
- The work has both substantial merit and national importance—not just geographical importance, but in its significance and prospective impact. Evidence may include a letter from you or your company or employer describing the job; letters from experts in the field attesting to the importance of your work; articles or other published media discussing you or the company’s work; contracts, agreements or licenses showing the scope and impact.
- You will advance the company’s work. Evidence may include your education, skills, knowledge, record of success, past progress, future plans and interest of customers, users, investors and others.
- Waiving the labor certification requirement would benefit the U.S. Given your qualifications and the work, the U.S. would benefit even if Americans could do the work or with an urgent national interest. Evidence may include copies of published articles recognizing your achievements; contracts, patents, grants, or licenses showing how your work is being implemented by others.
What is the process?
If the priority date for the EB-2 category and country of birth is current, Form I-140, the green card petition, and Form I-485, the adjustment of status, can be filed at the same time to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Otherwise, the I-140 must be filed first. As of the time of this writing, the I-140 for an EB-2 NIW green card cannot be filed via premium processing. The processing time can vary. Check out the USCIS Case Processing Times page for the most current estimates. Once the I-140 is approved and if your priority date is current, you can file for adjustment of status I-485. Family members can also file for adjustment of process as beneficiaries.
USCIS may request more information, evidence or an interview with the EB-2 NIW candidate. At an interview, you may be fingerprinted, photographed or asked for your signature to verify your identity or to update background and security checks. USCIS will notify you in writing of its decision.