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Navigating the EB-2 Visa Category: A Gateway to U.S. Permanent Residency

Updated: Nov 13, 2023


The path to obtaining a U.S. green card is a dream for many foreign nationals, and the Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) visa category can turn that dream into reality. In this post, we will delve into the EB-2 visa category, from understanding its purpose and eligibility criteria to the application process, benefits, challenges, and much more. By the end of this journey, you will have a better understanding of how the EB-2 visa may be your ticket to U.S. permanent residency.

Who is eligible for EB-2 Visa?

Understanding the EB-2 Visa Category

Definition and Purpose

The EB-2 visa category is designed to accommodate foreign nationals who possess advanced degrees or exhibit exceptional abilities in their respective fields. Its primary goal is to attract and retain individuals with valuable skills and expertise, making substantial contributions to the U.S. economy, education, culture, or national interests.

Comparison with Other Visa Categories

When delving into the EB-2 category, it's crucial to differentiate it from the EB-1 category. EB-1 is specifically designated for individuals with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers and executives. In contrast, the EB-2 category encompasses individuals with advanced degrees and those displaying exceptional abilities, albeit with criteria that are not as rigorous as those of the EB-1 category. This distinction allows for a broader range of qualified applicants under the EB-2 visa program.

EB-2 Eligibility Criteria:

1. Advanced Degree: Individuals in this subcategory of foreign workers must hold a degree higher than a bachelor's, such as a Master's or Doctorate, or its foreign equivalent. An alternative qualification is a bachelor's degree combined with a minimum of five years of relevant work experience. Approval from the U.S. Department of Labor's Foreign Labor Certification Process is required for applicants in this category.

2. Exceptional Ability: Foreign workers falling under this subcategory possess specialized degrees and demonstrate significant expertise in fields like art, business, or science. Approval from the U.S. Department of Labor's Foreign Labor Certification Process is also mandatory for individuals in this group.

3. National Interest Waiver: Applicants in this subcategory are seeking an exemption from the Foreign Labor Certification Process because their work is deemed to be in the national interest of the United States. Unlike other EB-2 green card categories, these workers are not required to have an employer sponsor and can self-petition for an EB-2 visa. Learn more about NIW eligibility criteria here.

Navigating the EB-2 Visa Process

Securing an EB-2 green card is a multi-step journey that requires meticulous planning and adherence to immigration procedures. To successfully obtain this coveted U.S. immigration benefit, both applicants and their employers must navigate a three-step process that includes:

• Labor Certification (PERM):

In the initial phase, the employer takes the crucial step of filing a Permanent Labor Certification with the U.S. Department of Labor, utilizing the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) System.

The labor certification process serves as a declaration affirming several key aspects:

· The existence of a job opening within a specific professional field.

· The commitment to providing equal job access to U.S. workers.

· The genuine need for a foreign worker to fill the position.

· The offering of competitive compensation for the role.

· This certification is essential as it lays the foundation for the entire EB-2 green card application.

• Recruitment Process:

Employers must diligently undertake a comprehensive recruitment process that demonstrates the unavailability of qualified American workers for the intended position.

Proper execution of this recruitment phase is of paramount importance. Mishandling it may trigger an audit by the Department of Labor, potentially leading to significant delays in processing, sometimes extending up to a year and a half.

Meeting the Department of Labor's stringent requirements is vital to ensuring the smooth progression of the EB-2 application.

• Form I-140 Petition:

Following the successful completion of the labor certification (PERM) process, the employer can proceed to the next pivotal step—filing Form I-140.

Form I-140 is the official petition for the EB-2 visa and is submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Applicants must patiently await the availability of their EB-2 priority date to move forward in the application process. The priority date is determined by the date on which USCIS receives the application.

Employment-Based Visa Quotas

Visa Bulletin and Priority Dates

The Visa Bulletin, published monthly by the U.S. Department of State, determines visa availability based on priority dates. Certain countries may face longer waiting times due to country-specific quotas.

Country-Specific Quotas

Countries with high demand for EB visas may experience backlogs, resulting in longer waiting periods for applicants from those countries.

Understanding the EB-2 Priority Date

The EB-2 priority date is a pivotal element in the EB-2 green card application process, significantly influencing when applicants can advance to the final stages of obtaining their green card. To gain a comprehensive understanding of this critical aspect, applicants should familiarize themselves with the following insights:

Monitoring Your Priority Date:

• Applicants can effectively track the progress of their EB-2 priority date by referring to the monthly Visa Bulletin.

• The Visa Bulletin provides a detailed breakdown of visa availability based on the applicant's country of origin and preference category, enabling individuals to gauge when their priority date becomes current.

Two Distinct Processing Paths: Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status

Understanding the two available processing paths is essential for applicants:

Consular Processing:

This path is designed for applicants residing outside the United States.

It necessitates an in-person interview at a U.S. Consulate office in the applicant's home country.

During this interview, a consular officer rigorously assesses the applicant's eligibility for an EB-2 green card.

Upon successful completion of this process, applicants receive authorization to travel to the United States and are stamped as legal permanent residents.

Adjustment of Status:

For applicants already present in the United States on a different visa, the Adjustment of Status path is available.

This route involves submitting Form I-485 to request a change of status to EB-2.

As part of this process, applicants are typically required to undergo security processing at a USCIS Application Support Center.

In certain cases, applicants may also be scheduled for an interview to further assess their eligibility.

The final decision regarding the green card application is communicated to the applicant via mail.

Total Processing Time

The overall EB-2 processing time varies widely based on factors like the applicant's country of origin and the specific service center handling the case. Typically, the entire process, from the initial petition to obtaining the green card, can take anywhere from a year and a half to several years. Premium processing offers a way to expedite the I-140 petition process, reducing the waiting period to 15 calendar days.

Benefits of the EB-2 Visa

· Permanent Residency (Green Card): EB-2 visa holders can obtain permanent residency in the United States, allowing them to live and work in the country indefinitely.

· Family Members' Benefits: Immediate family members, including spouses and unmarried children under 21, can also obtain green cards based on the principal applicant's EB-2 status.

· Employment Flexibility: EB-2 visa holders have the flexibility to change jobs or employers without jeopardizing their green card status.

· Opportunity for Career Advancement: The EB-2 category offers opportunities for career growth and advancement in the United States.

· Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship: Holding a green card through the EB-2 category makes you eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting certain residency requirements.

Challenges and Considerations

· Visa Backlogs and Wait Times: Some applicants may face visa backlogs and extended waiting times, particularly if they come from countries with high demand for EB visas.

· Maintaining Eligibility during the Waiting Period: Applicants must ensure they continue to meet the eligibility criteria during the waiting period, which can span several years.

· Potential RFEs (Requests for Evidence): USCIS may issue Requests for Evidence seeking additional documentation or clarification, which can delay the application process.

Who is eligible for EB-2 Visa?


The EB-2 visa category represents an invaluable opportunity for talented individuals worldwide to contribute their skills and expertise to the United States. Whether you are an advanced degree holder, possess exceptional abilities, or aim to contribute to the nation's interests, the EB-2 visa opens doors to a promising future in the United States. However, it's crucial to recognize that each immigration case is unique, and navigating the intricacies of the EB-2 visa process requires careful consideration and diligence.

Please note that this post is for informational purposes only and none of the information on this post or Website is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute legal advice. Please read our full disclaimer here. Seeking guidance from immigration experts and staying updated on evolving policies and procedures are vital steps on your path to U.S. permanent residency. The U.S. eagerly awaits your contributions, and the EB-2 visa can be your key to a brighter and more prosperous future in the land of opportunity. Your journey toward U.S. permanent residency is a significant endeavor, and with the right knowledge and support, you can turn your American dream into a reality.

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