Obtaining a visa is complex and often takes an indefinite amount of time. Even when you have all your paperwork organized, you may still experience hiccups along the way. The EB-2 NIW visa allows highly skilled foreign nationals to bypass the traditional labor certification process and self-petition for a visa.
This can lead to permanent residency in the United States and provide long-term benefits for the visa owner and their family. When applicants meet unexpected difficulties, an EB-2 NIW visa lawyer can help with the application process. Contact IMM Solutions LLC today for a free consultation with a Boston work visa lawyer.
What Is a EB-2 NIW Visa?
The EB-2 NIW visa is a type of employment-based visa that allows foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business, or who hold advanced degrees in these fields, to bypass the standard labor certification process required for most employment-based visas. This labor certification is unique because of the following:
No Employer Sponsorship Required
Unlike most employment-based visas, the EB-2 NIW visa does not require a job offer from a U.S. employer. You must demonstrate that your work will be in the national interest of the United States.
National Interest Waiver
The EB-2 NIW visa allows for a national interest waiver of the standard labor certification process, meaning that you do not need to go through the process of proving that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position you are seeking.
The EB-2 NIW visa allows individuals to self-petition for the visa, meaning that you do not need a U.S. employer or sponsor to apply on your behalf.
Faster Processing Times
Because the EB-2 NIW visa does not require the standard labor certification process, the processing times for this visa are often faster than for other employment-based visas.
Flexibility in Job Placement
The EB-2 NIW visa allows for flexibility in job placement. You don’t need to have a specific job offer or employer in mind when applying for the visa. You can work for any employer or in any field as long as it is in the national interest of the United States.
How Do You Qualify for an EB-2 NIW?
To qualify for an EB-2 NIW visa, you must meet certain requirements that demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, and that your work is in the national interest of the United States. Requirements include the following:
You as the applicant must possess exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. This can be demonstrated through a record of achievements, such as degrees, awards, publications, and other evidence of exceptional ability.
Alternatively, you may have an advanced degree, such as a master's or doctorate, in your field of expertise.
You must demonstrate that your work is in the national interest of the United States. This can be shown by proving that your work will have a significant impact on the U.S. economy, health, education, culture, or welfare.
You must provide evidence that your work has value to the country, such as letters of recommendation from experts in your field, publications, patents, or media coverage of your work.
You must self-petition for the EB-2 NIW visa, meaning you do not need an employer or sponsor to apply on your behalf.
You must demonstrate that granting the waiver would be in the national interest of the United States and that you are well-positioned to advance work in your field.
Waiver of Labor Certification
The applicant must also request a waiver of the labor certification process. This typically requires employers to demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position being filled.
Is EB-2 NIW Difficult to Get?
Obtaining an EB-2 NIW visa can be challenging. This is because it requires meeting strict requirements and demonstrating exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, as well as showing that the applicant's work is in the national interest of the United States. Here are some ways in which obtaining an EB-2 NIW visa can be difficult:
The standards for exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business are high. It can be difficult to demonstrate that the applicant meets these standards. This can require extensive documentation of achievements, such as degrees, awards, publications, and other evidence of exceptional ability.
Complex Application Process
The application process for an EB-2 NIW visa can be complex and time-consuming, requiring extensive documentation and evidence to support the applicant's case. You must provide evidence that your work is in the national interest of the United States.
This can require obtaining letters of recommendation from experts in your field, publications, patents, or media coverage of your work.
The decision to grant an EB-2 NIW visa waiver is made on a case-by-case basis. The criteria for determining whether an applicant's work is in the national interest of the United States can be subjective. This can make it difficult to predict whether an application will be successful, and applicants may need to appeal a denial of their application.
Limited Visa Availability
The number of EB-2 NIW visas available each year is limited, and demand for these visas can be high. This can result in long wait times and delays in obtaining a visa. If you are from a country with a high demand for visas, you will experience a lengthier process.
While the EB-2 NIW visa does not require a job offer or employer sponsorship, applicants must still meet other requirements. For example, you must be demonstrating that you will be able to continue your work in your field in the United States. You also have to show that you have the necessary funds to support yourself and your family.
How Long Does EB-2 NIW Take?
The EB-2 NIW visa application process can take several months to a year or more to complete, depending on the complexity of the applicant's case and the workload of USCIS. The timeline for approval can also vary, but on average it takes between four to six months from the time of filing.
How to Apply for an EB-2 NIW Visa
Here are some details on the steps of the EB-2 NIW application process:
The first step in the EB-2 NIW visa application process is to prepare the required documentation, such as letters of recommendation, publications, and evidence of exceptional ability and impact. This can take several weeks or months, depending on the complexity of your case and the amount of documentation required.
Once the application is prepared, it must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The processing time for filing can vary depending on the workload of USCIS and the completeness of the application. Typically, it takes several weeks to a few months for USCIS to review and accept the application.
After the application is accepted, it undergoes a thorough review by USCIS. This review can take several months, and USCIS may request additional information or documentation to support the applicant's case.
After the review is complete, USCIS will issue a decision on the EB-2 NIW visa application. The timeline for this decision can vary, but on average it takes between four to six months from the time of filing.
If the EB-2 NIW visa application is approved, you can begin the process of obtaining your visa. This typically involves an interview with a U.S. consulate or embassy in the applicant's home country, which can take several weeks or months to schedule.
EB-2 NIW Eligibility Requirements
You will need your official academic record showing substantial merit and other items that show that you can provide talents of national importance. Here is a quick list of required items:
- Exceptional ability
- National interest
- Advanced degree
- Labor certification
To show substantial merit, you can also include letters of recommendation, publications, evidence of impact, and other documentation that demonstrates the applicant's expertise and contributions to their field.
How Long Does It Take to Put Together an EB-2 NIW Application?
The amount of time it takes for your lawyer to put together an EB-2 NIW application can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the availability of required documentation, and the experience of the lawyer. Generally, preparing an EB-2 NIW application can take several weeks or even several months, depending on the individual case.
Your lawyer will need to review your credentials, including your education, work experience, and other qualifications, as well as any documentation of exceptional ability and national interest. They will also need to gather letters of recommendation, publications, evidence of impact, and other supporting documentation. This information demonstrates your substantial intrinsic merit, exceptional ability membership, and contributions to professional or business organizations.
Once all the required documentation has been gathered, your lawyer will need to prepare the application forms, including the I-140 form for the EB-2 NIW visa. They will also need to prepare a detailed cover letter that outlines the applicant's qualifications and makes the case for the national interest waiver.
What Does the EB2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) Waive?
The EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) waives the requirement for a labor certification from the Department of Labor that is typically required for other employment-based visas in the EB-2 category. The labor certification process involves a determination that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the job, and it can be a lengthy and complex process.
The EB-2 NIW is designed for individuals who have exceptional ability in their field and whose work is deemed to be of national importance to the United States. By waiving the labor certification requirement, the EB-2 NIW makes it easier for these individuals to obtain a visa and contribute their talents to the United States.
If My EB2 NIW Petition Gets Denied, How Long Do I Have to Wait to File Again?
If your EB-2 NIW petition is denied, you may still be eligible for an employment-based visa in the EB-2 category through the traditional process. This requires a labor certification from the Department of Labor, which is more than just a job offer. The time you have to wait before filing a new petition without the national interest waiver depends on the reason for the denial and whether you have additional evidence or qualifications to support your application.
For example, if your petition was denied because you did not meet the eligibility requirements for the EB-2 visa, you may need to take steps to improve your qualifications or provide additional evidence of your expertise and contributions to your field before reapplying. This could take several months or longer, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
On the other hand, if your petition was denied because USCIS determined that your work was not in the national interest of the United States, you may be able to reapply immediately without the national interest waiver. However, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for an EB-2 visa with a labor certification from the Department of Labor.
What Are Other Categories Other Than the EB-2 National Interest Waiver?
Other immigrant visas include the following:
This applies to priority workers with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors, researchers, multinational executives, and managers.
This includes skilled workers, professionals, and other eligible features showing substantial merit.
This is an investor visa.
This includes various categories based on your relationship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a foreign national. This can also be helpful for a PERM labor certification.
Diversity Visa Lottery
This is a random selection of individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions
To learn more about national interest waiver requirements or what exceptional ability membership entails, you can review these commonly asked questions:
What Non-Immigrant Status Visas Are There?
These visas would include the following:
- B-1/B-2 visa: For visitors doing business or pleasure activities
- F-1 visa: For students
- J-1 visa: For exchange visitors
- H-1B visa: For specialty occupation workers
- L-1 visa: For intracompany transferees
- O-1 visa: For individuals with extraordinary abilities
What Are the Benefits of an EB-2 NIW Visa Compared to Other Visas?
The EB-2 NIW visa has several benefits compared to other visas, including self-petitioning, faster processing, and the availability of the national interest waiver. They don’t require a job offer and are based on a proposed endeavor.
You can also provide a foreign equivalent degree and obtain permanent residence by showing significant contributions to your community from your past. It can be a good option for individuals with exceptional ability in their field or who can demonstrate that their work is in the national interest of the United States.
Can I Apply for an EB-2 NIW Visa While Living Outside the United States?
You can apply for EB-2 NIW visas while living outside the United States. However, the application process will generally be the same as for individuals who are already in the United States.
It is important to note that the process of obtaining an EB-2 NIW visa from outside the United States may be more complex and time-consuming, and you may need to demonstrate ties to your home country to ensure that you will return after your visa expires. It is recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to help guide you through the application process.
How Do I Prepare to Qualify for an EB-2 NIW Visa?
Preparing to qualify for an EB-2 NIW months or even years ahead of time can help you increase your chances of success and reduce the stress and uncertainty of the application process. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
Keep Your Immigration History Immaculate
Immigration history matters a lot while applying for an EB-2 NIW. If you have a history of immigration violations, such as overstaying a visa or working without authorization, you may face difficulties in obtaining a green card. Keep your immigration status in good standing by following the rules and regulations.
Build a Strong Professional Network
Networking is an essential part of any career, and it can be especially valuable for EB-2 NIW applicants. Building relationships with other professionals in your field can help you stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments. It will also help you identify potential collaborators or sponsors for your research. You may also be able to find job opportunities if you decide to pursue a traditional employment-based green card in the future.
Publish and Present Research
An important aspect of the EB-2 NIW application is to demonstrate exceptional ability in your field. One way to do this is by publishing articles or presenting at conferences. This can demonstrate your expertise and impact in your field. Also, this will help you enhance your qualifications and build a reputation for yourself in your field.
Seek Legal Advice
The process of applying for an EB-2 NIW can be complicated, and the requirements for approval can be challenging to meet. To increase your chances of success, seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and help you build a strong application.
Create a Business Plan or Strategy
If you are seeking an EB-2 NIW as an entrepreneur or startup founder, a well-developed business plan can help demonstrate the national interest of your work. Your plan should demonstrate how your work will create jobs or otherwise benefit the U.S. economy and society.
When you prepare to qualify for an EB-2 NIW, this requires a long-term approach. For example, this involves focusing on developing your skills, building your network, and more. By taking these steps, you can increase your chances of success and position yourself for a smooth application process when the time comes.
One of the primary benefits of the EB-2 NIW visa is that it can lead to permanent residency (green card) in the United States. If your EB-2 NIW petition is approved, you will be eligible to file an application for Adjustment of Status to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Contact IMM Solutions LLC now for a free consultation.