The Basics of Business Immigration: Understanding the EB-2 Visa Category

Portrait of a young indian womanAs an employer who utilizes a global workforce, how can you combat the turnover issues inherent in hiring employees to work for your company on temporary, nonimmigrant visas? Nonimmigrant work visas certainly have their benefits, but what if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of having to regularly apply for extensions or brand new visas for new employees to replace those whose visa term has expired?

The EB, or Employment Based, immigrant visa is an incredibly useful tool for helping your global workforce achieve permanent residence in the United States so that they can continue to work for your company for years to come.

In a previous blog, we broke down the various EB category visa options—which include EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5—and we’ve also provided an in-depth blog on the EB-1 visa. Today we will provide a more detailed look at the EB-2 visa.

In the context of the EB visas, the number indicates the level of preference for achieving permanent residence, also known as a “green card.” The lower the number, the higher the preference, which means applications can be processed more quickly, and higher preference categories will receive first priority with regard to quotas – the government sets a quota of the maximum number of EB green cards issued each year.

Thus, the EB-2 visa receives second preference after the EB-1 visas are fulfilled, accounting for a little more than 28% of all EB visas issued. If the quota for EB-1 visas is not fulfilled, qualifying EB-2 applicants may be granted those leftover visas.

In order to be eligible for most EB visa categories, an employer must sponsor the applicant’s petition, and only particular categories of workers can qualify for the various types of EB visas.

The EB-2 visa is reserved for the following three subcategories of employees.

  • Professionals with advanced degrees. The position to which they are being hired must require an advanced degree or a baccalaureate plus five years of progressive work experience in the field. Applicants must provide evidence of their academic record as proof of their eligibility.
  • Those with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines “exceptional ability” as “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” In order to prove one’s eligibility, the applicant must fulfill three qualifications from a list of seven criteria such as membership in a professional organization, letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in the occupation, and evidence of a high-salary commensurate with exceptional ability.
  • Those who fulfill the requirement for a National Interest Waiver. Generally, this is an individual who fulfill three of the criteria from the “exceptional ability” category, and can also demonstrate that their working in the US on a permanent basis will benefit the nation in some way. Those applying for a National Interest Waiver do not need an employer to sponsor them. To learn more about the National Interest Waiver petition, download our complimentary guide.

Generally, all EB-2 visa applications must be accompanied by an approved Department of Labor individual labor certification through the Program Electronic Review Management system, or PERM. This system is meant to ensure that the employer has sufficiently tested the local job market before resorting to hiring foreign skilled-labor, so that the EB program does not take jobs away from American citizens who are equally as qualified.

Those who are granted permanent residence status through the second-preference EB visa may also bring their spouse and any children under the age of 21 with them to the US as permanent residents as well. A spouse of an EB-2 visa holder can be grant an EB-21 visa, and their children can be granted an EB-22 visa.

To learn more about the EB-2 second-preference green card, or your responsibilities as an employer in sponsoring an EB-2 petition, contact FordMurray  for a complimentary consultation.