1 . What is an EB-2 NIW?
An EB-2 “National Interest Waiver” (“NIW”) is an immigrant visa which leads to permanent residence for individuals who work in the sciences, arts, or business and hold either an “advanced degree” or “exceptional ability,” and whose employment plans in the U.S. are of “national interest.” Ordinarily, the EB-2 PERM visa process requires that immigrants have both a job offer and a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor. However—and as the name suggests—the purpose of the EB-2 National Interest Waiver is to “waive” (or, “disregard”) these challenging requirements for those who can demonstrate that they have nationally important professional skills which they plan to contribute to the nation.
2. What types of professionals qualify for an EB-2 NIW?
- The EB-2 NIW is an option for a wide range of professionals in the sciences, arts, or business, including healthcare practitioners, scientific researchers, engineers, financial experts, entrepreneurs, and artists, among many others.
3. Which classification would I qualify for—advanced degree or exceptional ability?
- Advanced Degree
An “advanced degree” in the sciences, arts, or business is either:
- A Master’s Degree or higher (or its foreign equivalent); or,
- A Bachelor’s Degree + 5 years of progressive, post-graduate experience.
- Exceptional Ability
If you do not have an “advanced degree,” you may alternatively show that you have “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business by documenting that you satisfy at least 3 of 6 principal criteria, including:
- 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); and / or,
- Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations.
4. Am I required to have a job offer or could I carry out my plans through self-employment?
There is no requirement for a job offer and you may carry out your plans through self-employment. An EB-2 NIW Visa petition can be filed based on any of the three scenarios listed below. Depending on your circumstances, we can help you chose which is best for you.
- Self-Petitioning through your own registered company as a self-employed professional;
- Self-Petitioning but providing proof of an existing job offer from an employer (or at minimum, that employer’s intention to hire); or,
- Serving as Beneficiary of an EB-2 NIW petition filed on your behalf by a Sponsoring employer.
5. Can I apply for a green card with my EB-2 NIW?
6. Can my family members apply for a green card with me?
Generally, immediate family members (spouses and non-married children under the age of 21) in the U.S. in non-immigrant status can apply for green cards as your dependents, either at the same time, or after your own green card application and EB-2 NIW visa petition. This ability depends on the immigration regulations and policies existing at the time of filing. Please consult our firm for confirmation based on a full analysis of the immigration regulations and your immigration status. NIW Individuals living abroad are not eligible to apply for green cards inside the United States, although they may still file only for the EB-2 NIW, and ultimately obtain a green card via “consular processing” at a U.S embassy or consular office abroad.
7. How long is the processing time for the EB-2 NIW visa petitions?
The average waiting time for a final decision on an EB-2 NIW visa petition varies greatly but can take anywhere from 8 months to over a year. The processing time could be prolonged if issued a Request for Evidence. The processing time can vary greatly due to USCIS processing backlogs and the workload of the Officer reviewing your case.
8. Is Premium Processing available for EB-2 NIW visa petitions?
Premium Processing is not currently available for this type of petition. However, immigration regulations and policies change frequently, and our firm can assess this at the time of your consultation.
9. Will I be kept in protected legal status while I wait for a decision?
10. Am I and my family members eligible to receive a work permit and travel permit while we wait?
You and any family members who have filed green card applications on the basis of your EB-2 NIW visa petition are eligible to apply for work and travel permits along with your applications. Depending on how quickly USCIS can process the permits, they should be issued in 3-5 months, on average.