Employment-Based (EB-2) Visa and National Interest Waiver (NIW)

One of the several visa classifications for foreign residents with exceptional ability or advanced degrees is the EB-2 Visa. This visa is employment-based and offers permanent residency for successful applicants. There is, however, a cap on this type of visa, making the selection process extremely competitive. Nonetheless, it is a viable solution for many employers and applicants. This blog will lay out the general requirements and options under the EB-2 visa classification.

Prerequisites for EB-2 Applicants

With a notable exception (explained below), applicants must have a job offer waiting for them in the U.S. and a certificate verifying they are eligible for labor in the U.S. An applicant’s prospective employer will submit Form I-140 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

EB-2 Sub-Categories

There are two official sub-categories of EB-2 visas, and they are straightforward:

1. Exceptional Ability. Any individuals who have shown an exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will pursue this sub-category to attain an EB-2 visa. In order to prove that you belong in the exceptional ability sub-category, you must show at least three of the following:

  • Academic certification, degree, or diploma
  • Documents showing you have at least 10 years of work experience in your field
  • You hold a license that allows you to work in your chosen profession
  • Evidence that shows you have drawn a salary in your field of work
  • Membership in one or more professional associations
  • Recognition by your government, peers, or professional associations
  • Any other “comparable evidence of eligibility”

2. Advanced Degree. This sub-category requires successful applicants to have an advanced degree for the job position or a baccalaureate degree (or foreign equivalent) plus five years of “progressive” work experience in your chosen profession. Documents required to show that you have the academic qualifications are your actual certificate or diploma and letters from your employer (if you don’t have an advanced degree). 

National Interest Waiver and EB-2 Visas

For certain applicants pursuing one of the two sub-categories, a National Interest Waiver (NIW) makes sense to apply for. A labor certification is not required in this situation. NIW applicants may handle the application process without an employer’s help. Generally, for an NIW application to be successful, you must show that your “proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance” and that it is in the best interests of the U.S. to waive the labor-certification requirement. 


The EB-2 visa, due to its annual limit, is an extremely difficult visa to obtain. You need the help of an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to help ensure that you are well-positioned for success. Contact RelisLaw through our website here to receive a free 10-minute phone evaluation.

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