One of the quickest ways for non-US citizens to receive permanent residence status in the United States is by applying for the EB-2 NIW visa. It suits applicants whose proposed endeavor is considered of national interest to the US.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore an EB-2 NIW visa, how it helps applicants avoid the PERM labor certification process, and what education and training programs foreign nationals must have taken to qualify.
If you are looking to get personalized guidance check out Citizen Concierge’s EB2-NIW Filing Assistance Service !
What Is an EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) Visa?
The EB-2 NIW (national interest waiver) is a United States employment-based visa for individuals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability. Foreign nationals who believe that they would be a great asset to the US can apply for the national interest waiver and have the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents.
The EB-2 NIW is unique from other types of United States visas because the applicants can fill out Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) themselves without needing a job offer or permanent labor (PERM) certification.
What Is a PERM Labor Certification?
Before sponsoring a foreign national for employment in the United States, a local company or business must receive a permanent labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL). This is also referred to as PERM certification.
The DOL must consider certain factors before issuing the business with a PERM labor certification, and these include the following:
- Whether hiring the foreign national would affect the average wages of a US worker; and
- The chances of hiring a foreign national would become a barrier for equally qualified US workers to obtain a similar job.
If the DOL believes that hiring a foreign national does not threaten the local job market for US workers and there is a need for such professionals, it will issue the PERM labor certification.
However, with a national interest waiver, the foreign national does not need to receive a job offer or go through the PERM labor certification process when applying for an EB-2 visa.
How Much Does the EB-2 NIW Visa Cost?
The first step is to file Form I-140, which costs around $700. After the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, the applicant can proceed with their application.
Any foreign national applicant applying for the EB-2 NIW from within the United States must pay the $1,140 filing fee for Form I-485 and around $200 to $400 for the medical exam. In addition, there is a surcharge of $85 for biometrics.
Suppose the applicant is a foreign national applying from outside the United States. In that case, they must go through consular processing, meaning they would have to wait in their country of residence until the US consulate approves their green card. This process costs around $345.
How Long Does the EB-2 NIW Visa Take?
The processing times for the EB-2 NIW visa are painstakingly long. When a foreign national files Form I-140, they must wait between 10.5 to 26.5 months before they receive a notice of approval.
The time frame can vary depending on whether you're applying at the Nebraska or Texas Service Center and the category of the form (extraordinary ability, outstanding professor, advanced degree, and others).
The applicant must then watch for the visa's availability on the US Department of State's Visa Bulletin. Once available, they can start the green card process, which can take more than two years if they apply from within the United States.
However, applicants applying outside the US may have to wait four to six months. The waiting times can be more significant depending on the immigration circumstances and the workload at the time of the application.
Ensure you file correctly the first time with an EB2 NIW Specialist. - Learn More
Who Is Eligible to Apply for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver?
Those individuals who want to apply for the EB-2 NIW must fulfill the following requirements to be eligible for the visa:
National Interest Waiver Requirements
The criteria for an EB-2 NIW visa are pretty strict, as the applicants must prove that the work they're conducting in their respective fields can benefit the United States.
There are several national interest waiver requirements that the applicants must fulfill, and these include the following:
- The applicant's proposal or proposed endeavor is of national importance and has substantial merit;
- They are capable of executing their proposal; and
- It is in the national interest of the United States to waive the job offer and PERM certification.
The term "national importance" is quite broad and may vary from one application to the other. An applicant with a proposed endeavor that could potentially uplift a local economy and provide jobs is a matter of national importance, regardless of whether or not it positively impacts the entire United States.
Regarding substantial merit, there are several fields that the USCIS considers, including business, culture, health, and technology, among many others.
Applicants do not necessarily need to prove that their proposal has substantial merits in terms of economic benefits. The positive impact on the social good could be sufficient.
Another key thing to remember is that the applicant does not need to prove their potential endeavor is more likely to succeed. They only need to show they have the right skills, a proper plan, and the determination to execute their project.
A successful company with a proven record of executing similar projects can bolster the foreign national's application, but it's not mandatory.
Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability Requirements
Since the EB-2 NIW visa is for applicants who believe they have an advanced degree or exceptional ability to receive a national interest waiver, they must prove these by providing educational and training documents and work experience letters.
To fulfill the education requirement, the applicant must have a Ph.D., Master's degree, or a Bachelor's degree with five years of work experience.
The degree of expertise the EB-2 NIW visa requires should be much greater than you would typically encounter in the sciences, arts, or business.
It's important to note that the level of education or degree should match that of the United States. Applicants must confirm their foreign equivalent degree by getting it evaluated by credential evaluation services, such as World Education Services or Education Credential Evaluators.
The foreign national applicant must provide any three of the following documents to fulfill the exceptional ability requirement of the EB-2 NIW visa:
- An official academic record with proof of degrees, certifications, or awards;
- Letters proving that the applicant has ten years of full-time experience;
- Pay slips and other income documents that prove the applicant demonstrated exceptional ability;
- Membership of professional associations that have achievement criteria that one must complete to be eligible to become a member;
- Documents from peers, government entities, and professional or business organizations that show recognition for the applicant's achievements or highlight their significant contributions to their specific industry; or
- Other comparable evidence.
Guiding Principles for Meeting the National Interest Waiver Requirements
No list contains the documents required to meet the national interest waiver requirement. According to the USCIS, each immigration officer will review the applications case-by-case.
However, there are some guiding principles that the officers use to determine whether the applicant is "well-positioned" to execute their plan, and these include the following:
- The applicant's education level;
- Skills and applicable knowledge;
- Documented proof of demonstrating success in the relevant field;
- Official records that show the applicant's progress toward the proposed endeavor; and
- Documents that show interest in the project by relevant stakeholders, such as users, customers, shareholders, and others.
Besides the national interest waiver, the USCIS officer also considers certain factors to determine whether the applicant must undergo the PERM certification process. These include the following:
- The practicality of the applicant securing a job offer or going through the PERM labor certification process given their skillset;
- Their proposed endeavor and its benefits to the United States; and
- The urgency to the US of the applicant's skills and knowledge.
Is There a Premium Processing Service for the EB2 NIW Green Card?
In 2023, the USCIS introduced the premium processing service for the EB-2 NIW green card, shortening the waiting time to 45 days. However, it costs an additional $2,500 in addition to the other fees.
How Challenging Is It to Apply for an EB-2 NIW Green Card?
Applying for the EB-2 NIW green card is an arduous and challenging process. Since there are no specific documentation requirements, applicants must prove the following:
- Their proposal is of national interest;
- They have the skills and abilities to execute it; and
- It is in the country's national interest to waive the job offer or PERM labor certification requirement.
Putting together a document package with all the supporting evidence to help fulfill the national interest and advanced degree or exceptional ability requirement can be complex. If you're unsure what you're doing or make any mistakes in the application, you risk getting declined.
To ensure that you've compiled the proper evidence and completed the necessary forms correctly, consider contacting Citizen Concierge for assistance and guidance.
How Can Citizen Concierge Help You with Your EB-2 NIW Visa Application?
There are many different ways Citizen Concierge can help you with your EB-2 NIW visa application, some of which include the following:
The Team at Citizen Concierge Has Extensive Experience
The guidelines provided by the USCIS for the EB-2 national interest waiver visa are pretty vague, with the immigration services stating that they assess each application on a case-by-case basis. This creates a lot of grey areas on what you can and cannot do.
Fortunately, Citizen Concierge has a team of professionals with extensive experience handling EB-2 NIW applications. It knows applicants' mistakes and can help you avoid them, increasing your chances of receiving the EB-2 national interest waiver visa.
It Provides Live Support
Citizen Concierge continues to invest its resources into developing innovative solutions that cater to the needs of visa applicants worldwide, including the United States. Its state-of-the-art software revolutionizes how you fill out application forms, making the entire process easy and stress-free.
One of the major hurdles when pursuing the immigration process is filling out lengthy, drawn-out paperwork. Failure to ensure correct information or fill out the form correctly without any mistakes can result in a rejection.
By hiring Citizen Concierge LLC , you're ensuring no errors in your immigration form. The teams provide live support whenever needed to ensure a smooth application process.
You're Getting a Personalized Support
When working with an attorney, your file often gets pushed to the side along with the rest of the clients. This is because immigration law firms have many clients seeking their services, and they lack the resources to handle all of them with the same respect and dedication.
Your file might end up with an assistant who cannot provide you the personalized support you need. This can be frustrating since you're paying high legal fees, and your concerns are not adequately addressed.
Citizen Concierge Assists Applicants Throughout the Visa Process
The process of obtaining an EB2 NIW visa can be confusing to follow. You must submit different forms, and navigating the USCIS website for more information or help can be daunting.
Whether you're looking for details on how to prove exceptional ability or want to explain that you don't need a PERM labor certification, finding the correct information about the EB2 NIW visa process is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
With Citizen Concierge, applicants do not have to worry about which documents they need to fulfill the national interest waiver and advanced degree or exceptional ability requirements. Its legal and administration team will guide you in approaching eligibility requirements and creating the best strategy for you.
The web portal designed by Citizen Concierge is easy to navigate and has all the tools and resources the applicants may require. What's great about this immigration service is that the team is available to provide specialized guidance to every applicant.
Whether you need to submit an official academic record showing your qualifications or require news articles demonstrating the applicant's exceptional ability, Citizen Concierge can help you create a strong documents package to increase your chances of receiving an EB-2 NIW visa.
The Expert Guidance Provided Is Invaluable
When filling out Form I-140 or gathering the necessary documentation regarding the EB-2 national interest waiver application, applicants can be confused and uncertain. Citizen Concierge has experienced professionals working round the clock to provide you with the needed help.
Whether you require assistance with PERM labor certification or fulfilling the national importance, advanced degree, and exceptional ability requirements, Citizen Concierge can provide invaluable expert guidance.
Citizen Concierge Vs. Hiring a EB2 Immigration Lawyer
When applying for an EB-2 NIW green card, there are a lot of fees that applicants must pay. This is a significant financial burden, especially when you're unsure what to do.
What's worse is that most immigration law firms are so busy that you will have to wait a long time before you can get an appointment, or you may be unable to reach your assigned attorney when required. This can be frustrating, mainly when your dreams of residing in the United States lie in their hands.
With Citizen Concierge immigration law experts, you get dedicated and personalized assistance. They make you their top priority. They will help guide you through the documentation and application process and assist you at any time of the day.
Filing for permanent residence in the United States can be extremely long, challenging, and tiring. Without any assistance, there is a risk of making mistakes that can cost you a lot of money and time.
Working with Citizen Concierge is an excellent way for foreign nationals to fill out the necessary application forms, explain their proposed endeavor, and submit the relevant documents to meet the eligibility requirements. It's much cheaper than hiring an attorney and does not come with the hassles of working with immigration law firms.
If you wish to learn more about the packages or need assistance with your EB-2 NIW visa, schedule a FREE consultation with Citizen Concierge .
Disclaimer: The above is a sponsored post, the views expressed are those of the sponsor/author and do not represent the stand and views of Outlook Editorial.