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Applying for an EB-2 ‘exceptional ability’ visa

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2021 | Employment-based Immigration

Hundreds of thousands of people seek immigration to the United States each year to reunite with loved ones or pursue their career goals. The U.S. limits the number of employment-based (EB) visas to 140,000 each year.

Five EB classifications exist, and EB-2 visas are appealing as the overall process is more streamlined, and obtaining a green card can happen faster than in some of the other categories. Also, U.S. employers sponsor EB-2s and typically include permanent job offers.

Types of EB-2 visas

Three categories of EB-2 visas are offered:

  • National Interest Waivers
  • Foreign workers with advanced degrees in science, art or business
  • Foreign workers with exceptional abilities in science, art or business

Applying for EB-2 visas

Applicants must follow three steps to receive an EB-2 visa:

  1. The U.S. employer applies for labor certification through the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) system.
  2. Once the certification is received, the employer files a Form I-140 petition for alien workers, confirming the employer’s intent to hire the individual when the petition is approved.
  3. Once the I-140 is granted, the immigrant must take the final step by filing Form I-485 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjust their immigration status.

Proving exceptional ability under immigration rules

Immigrants with at least a decade of experience in the arts, sciences or business must prove they have an exceptional ability to qualify for this type of visa. They must meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Official academic record showing a diploma, degree, certificate or similar certification related to their exceptional ability from a school, university or other accredited learning institution
  • Letters from current or past employers proving they have 10 years of full-time employment in the qualifying profession
  • A professional license or certification in the qualifying field
  • Evidence of a salary or other compensation in the field
  • Proof of belonging to professional organizations in their specialty
  • Tangible evidence of awards, other achievements or significant contributions to their field given by peers, professional groups or governmental bodies

It’s important to note that some of these standards do not apply to all qualifying professions. That’s why it’s advisable to work with an experienced immigration attorney who understands how comparable evidence and experience may also lead to eligibility for EB-2 visas.