If you have exceptional skills and talents in your expertise, the EB-2 visa category is a promising opportunity, particularly if you qualify for the National Interest Waiver (NIW). This article delves into the EB-2 visa through NIW and explores its eligibility criteria, benefits, and the pathway from NIW visa to green card.
EB-2 NIW Visa
The EB-2 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa typically involves intensive processes requiring petitions, a job offer, and a labor certification. This visa involves a complex process and requires strong evidence to demonstrate eligibility since it leads to permanent residency from NIW visa to green card.
The EB-2 visa applies to you if you hold an advanced degree or have exceptional abilities in your specialty, which can be in the arts, business, or sciences.
Fortunately, the EB-2 visa’s requirement of having a job offer and a labor certification can be circumvented if you qualify for a National Interest Waiver (NIW), which involves demonstrating a lack of U.S. workers available to do the job you specialize in.
Thus, the NIW allows you to avoid the PERM labor certification requirement and, by extension, the job offer requirement. As a result, you can self-petition or file a Form I-140 on your behalf without needing a U.S. employer to do it for you.
To qualify for the EB-2 visa through NIW, you must meet stringent criteria emphasizing your exceptional abilities and contributions to the national interest. To demonstrate this, consider the following:
Significant contributions to your field
You must demonstrate that your work has significant value. You must prove that you are a leader in your field or that your outstanding skills have advanced your specialty. For instance, you hold a patent or have made breakthroughs in research.
You must demonstrate that you have an advanced degree or exceptional abilities. This can be demonstrated through outstanding achievements in your specialty. For instance, you can provide evidence of your specialized techniques, advanced methodologies, or practices that are above the standards of most of your colleagues in your field.
You must demonstrate that your contributions in your field have a significant impact that has the potential to benefit the U.S. nation as a whole. For instance, it goes beyond your personal interest and can positively affect the country’s economy, development, society’s welfare, etc.
It would be best to highlight your achievements, recognition, awards, or any external validation. For instance, you may have received grants, honors, or other forms of recognition from other experts in your field, solidifying your exceptional talents. You can use media coverage, awards, or publications about you and your work.
Benefits of the EB-2 NIW
Obtaining the EB-2 visa through NIW offers distinct advantages:
Since you can bypass the grueling labor certification process, applying for the EB-2 through NIW will expedite your overall application timeline. Your application will be scrutinized heavily, but provided you are qualified and present a strong case, you can move swiftly from NIW visa to green card.
The EB-2 NIW can accommodate a wide range of professionals, from researchers or scientists to artists and entrepreneurs. This offers a level of flexibility for exceptional professionals in various fields.
Going through the NIW process allows you to self-petition, thereby eliminating the need to acquire a U.S. job offer or for an employer to sponsor you. This also gives you the chance to find employment or create your own business.
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may also be eligible for green cards and accompany you from NIW visa to green card in the United States as dependents.
If successful, you will acquire lawful permanent residency from NIW visa to green card. This will permit you to live, work, or study in the United States as you see fit.
EB-2 NIW Visa To Green Card Application Process
Here is an overview of the general steps for the EB-2 NIW visa to green card application:
Firstly, determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for the EB-2 NIW visa by assessing your exceptional abilities or advanced degrees, significant achievements, the impact of your contributions, and how your work can benefit the U.S. as a whole.
Thoroughly prepare your documents which will serve as evidence supporting your eligibility. This includes your personal documents, proof of your expertise, recognition in your field, and more. Check the document checklist below to help you get an idea of what documents you may need.
Prepare a petition letter
Prepare a convincing petition letter outlining your qualifications, accomplishments, and how your work has the potential to serve the national interest. Ensure you explain how you meet the criteria for the NIW and how your contributions directly benefit the United States.
Complete and submit Form I-140
Thoroughly complete form I-140, ensuring all information is correct and consistent. File Form I-140 with the USCIS, including all relevant evidence, and pay the filing fee of $700. This is your official request for classification as an EB-2 NIW applicant. It usually takes two to three weeks to receive a receipt of the application.
Wait for 3 to 9 months for a decision
The USCIS will either approve, reject, or request for more evidence on your I-140 petition. If you receive a request for more evidence, we recommend working with an immigration attorney to meet this request properly.
Check the visa bulletin for your priority date
Your priority date will tell you when you are ready to apply for your immigrant visa or apply for adjustment of status. The waiting time depends on the country you are from. It can take longer for some countries, such as China and India. Check the visa bulletin for more information.
Consular processing or adjustment of status
When a visa number is available for you, file Form I-485 within one year of your priority date. Form I-485 costs $1,140.
Biometrics and medical examination
You will be required to provide your fingerprints, signature, and photograph. This biometric step costs $85 and helps the USCIS conduct background checks. You will also be required to undergo a medical examination conducted by a qualifying civil surgeon. The result is valid for one year. Cost can vary depending on the provider. Prepare at least $200.
You will receive a notice for the interview indicating its date, time, and location. Attend it as scheduled. Bring your documents with you, and be prepared to answer questions regarding your qualifications, contributions, and the national impact of your work.
The USCIS will review your EB-2 NIW petition for approval.
Green card issuance
Once successful, you will be granted a green card or permanent residency in the United States.
EB-2 NIW Visa To Green Card Document Checklist
Here is a handy document checklist to help you organize the materials you need for your EB-2 NIW visa to green card application:
Copies of your previous U.S. visas, if applicable
NIW petition letter
Evidence of advanced degrees or exceptional abilities
Recommendation letters from colleagues, industry experts, mentors, etc.
Evidence of significant contributions to your field (e.g., patents, research, etc.)
Evidence of your work’s national impact (e.g., citations, media coverage, etc.)
Evidence of recognition (e.g., grants, honors, public speaking, etc.)
Proof of memberships to relevant associations
Proof of 2+ years of experience in your field of specialty
Copies of publications, articles, or other work samples
Letters of recommendation
Acquiring support letters or letters of recommendation from other experts in your specialty is important. These letters will reinforce your NIW visa and demonstrate that your colleagues and peers recognize you in your field as someone whose contributions are significant and how your work can have a national impact in the United States.
Ensure you have a good balance of letters from your peers and from esteemed experts or organizations that did not directly work for you but have recognized or benefited from your expertise. The latter will be objective and most likely hold weight. Lastly, compile a list of individuals who wrote the letters and their job titles and employers to make it easier to see at a glance the credentials of people who have recommended you.
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