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Table of Contents

How can you qualify for the EB-2 NIW visa?

How to gauge your suitability for an EB-2 NIW visa

Comparison between EB-2 NIW, EB-2 and the EB-1 employment-based visas

What are the main benefits of the EB-2 NIW Visa?

What is the application process for the EB-2 NIW visa?

How to provide evidence for national interest

Global hiring and workforce management implications

Strategies to enhance application success

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

What is the EB-2 NIW visa

The EB-2 NIW (national interest waiver) visa is a category under the United States employment-based, second preference visa program. Unlike work visas, the EB-2 NIW doesn’t require an employer sponsor.

It allows certain individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business—or advanced degree professionals—to seek US permanent residency without a labor certification or a specific job offer from a US employer.

This exemption is provided on the basis that the applicant’s employment or placement in the US would significantly benefit the nation.

This visa category also allows spouses and children to be considered as dependents and included in the application.

💡 Deel Immigration streamlines the visa application process for applicants and their dependents, taking care of everything from collecting and submitting supporting documentation to liaising with government officials and agencies, such as the department of state or US embassy.

See also: Worldwide Visa Support for Dependents: A Guide for Businesses

How can you qualify for the EB-2 NIW visa?

To be eligible for an EB-2 NIW visa, applicants must either demonstrate exceptional ability in their field or possess an advanced degree.

They must meet three US citizenship and immigration service (USCIS) criteria that illustrate exceptional ability or hold an advanced degree in a professional field.

Key to the NIW category is the requirement to demonstrate that their activities are in the US national interest, which sets it apart from other visa requirements.

💡Have any doubts about your eligibility? Deel Immigration has heaps of experience helping customers get approval for the EB-2 NIW. We can confirm you meet the criteria or suggest the next best alternatives.

See also: What Is an EB-2 NIW Visa (And Why It's Easier to Get One Than You Think)

How to gauge your suitability for an EB-2 NIW visa

Petitioners should evaluate their qualifications and eligibility against the USCIS criteria for exceptional ability or advanced degrees.

These are as follows:

Advanced degree

You need an advanced degree or its equivalent for the job you’re applying to. This could be a US or foreign equivalent degree or a baccalaureate with five years of progressive experience.

Provide academic records confirming your degree and letters from employers verifying five years of relevant work experience. If the role specifically requires a doctoral degree, you must possess a US or equivalent foreign doctorate.

Exceptional ability

Demonstrated exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business, significantly above what is usually seen in the field.

You must fulfill at least three of the following criteria (or other comparable proofs of eligibility):

  • Exceptional educational credentials
  • 10+ years of professional experience
  • Professional license or certification
  • Evidence of high salary indicative of exceptional ability
  • Membership in professional associations
  • Peer recognition for contributions to your field

The potential contributions of each candidate to their field and alignment with national interest goals may also be considered.

💡 With Deel Immigration, preparing evidence to support your case is easy. Deel’s legal team and attorneys will handle all the paperwork, facilitate consular visa stamping, and provide dedicated one-on-one support for you and any accompanying family members.

With an EB-1 visa, the following employment-related criteria would normally apply:

  • Receipt of an application for permanent employment certification from the department of labor (DOL) on ETA Form 908 unless a blanket exemption has been granted for the sector
  • Evidence of a willingness to pay an acceptable salary until the applicant secures lawful permanent residence status

However, the advantage of an E-B2 NIW visa is that you can apply for a waiver for the above labor-related materials if you can show sufficient urgency within the sector in question.

Comparison between EB-2 NIW, EB-2 and the EB-1 employment-based visas

Unlike the EB-1 and EB-2 employment-based visa categories, the EB-2 NIW does not require a labor certification. The labor certification process typically involves proving that no qualified US workers are available for the intended position, which can be lengthy and complex.

The EB-2 NIW facilitates a quicker and less cumbersome pathway for qualified immigrants by waiving this. Here’s how the EB-2 NIW visa differs from the superficially similar EB-1 and EB-2 visas:

  • EB-1 visa: For individuals with top-level achievements in fields like sciences or arts or as multinational executives. No labor certification is needed; it allows self-petitioning
  • EB-2 visa: For those with exceptional ability or advanced degrees.
  • EB-2 NIW visa: For those with exceptional abilities or advanced degrees, requiring proof that their work benefits the US national interest. Also waives labor certification and allows self-petitioning

Visa preference and waiting times:

  • EB-1 visa: Preferred category, typically with shorter visa availability wait times
  • EB-2 visa: Preferred category, not requiring an employment sponsor, with shorter wait times
  • EB-2 NIW visa: Second-preference category, potentially longer wait times than EB-1 or EB-2

Application requirements:

  • EB-1 visa: Requires substantial proof of extraordinary ability or role as an executive/manager
  • EB-2 visa: Requires evidence of a Master’s Degree, Doctorate or equivalent
  • EB-2 NIW visa: Needs evidence of exceptional ability or an advanced degree and a demonstration of significant benefit to US national interest

All three visas provide a path to US permanent residency, targeting skilled individuals who can contribute significantly to the US economy and society.

“I had a great experience working with [Deel Immigration]. The team was very professional, supportive, and a joy to work with. I would highly recommend to any entrepreneur who is looking into getting a US EB-2 NIW visa!” —Liliana Nordbakk, TreBiome Inc.

What are the main benefits of the EB-2 NIW Visa?

The primary benefit for individuals is the ability to seek US residency without a sponsoring employer, enhancing job mobility and career stability in the US.

For organizations, the EB-2 NIW removes the hurdle of the labor certification process, allowing them to employ foreign experts and professionals more readily, which can be crucial for sectors where specific expertise is scarce.

Here are some examples of sectors where significant numbers of EB-2 NIW visas have been issued:

  • STEM fields: The USCIS has preferred approving EB-2 NIW visas for applicants with advanced degrees and exceptional abilities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas. This focus aligns with national goals to promote technological and scientific innovation​ (Source: Donoso & Partners, LLC)
  • Healthcare: During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a notable increase in EB-2 NIW approvals for healthcare professionals. This included those involved in critical areas such as disease diagnosis, treatment, mental health, and public health logistics. Recognizing these professionals under the EB-2 NIW visa underscores their critical role in addressing national health emergencies and maintaining public health​ (Source: Colombo & Hurd, PL)
  • Environmental science: Environmental scientists, especially those involved in climate change research, sustainable development, and environmental conservation, have also benefited from the EB-2 NIW visa. Their work, which often has significant implications for national policies and practices, has been deemed of substantial merit and national importance

It’s important to note that trends in labor requirements shift over time, so the recent preferences listed above may not hold. It’s always worth applying if you feel your experience and expertise suit this visa category.

“I almost fell off my chair finding out my EB-2 NIW was approved.” —David Obasiolu, CEO and Co-founder, ChowVerified

What is the application process for the EB-2 NIW visa?

The applicant must submit Form I-140 (immigrant petition for alien worker) to USCIS, accompanied by substantial evidence of their eligibility and the national interest waiver.

If the I-140 petition is approved and a visa number is available, the applicant can then file for an adjustment of status to permanent resident using Form I-485 or proceed with consular processing if outside the US.

In the latter case, the applicant will have to attend an appointment at their US embassy or consulate, providing written copies of the evidence listed above.

Normally, an EB-2 NIW visa application could take up to a year to complete. However, premium processing is available in exchange for an enhanced fee, which reduces this timescale to around 45 days maximum.

💡Deel Immigration can ensure a seamless visa process. We guide you through the different forms and filing fees so you avoid any pitfalls and keep your application on track. Any time you’ve got a question, you can arrange a meeting to get one-on-one support.

How to provide evidence for national interest

Evidence should convincingly demonstrate that your contributions to your respective field have national significance and could substantially benefit the US. Such evidence could include (but is not limited to):

  • Documentation of groundbreaking research
  • Innovative contributions to industry
  • Significant academic publications
  • Endorsements from government entities or major businesses.

Where possible, publicly available sources should be cited and written documentation provided.

💡 Collating your evidence can take several weeks. Deel Immigration can advise you on which documents to use and how to draft convincing reports or proposals. We can also help you correctly categorize and label your paperwork when submitting it to USCIS.

Global hiring and workforce management implications

This visa category supports companies’ strategic talent acquisition goals, especially in high-tech, academic, and other specialized sectors. By providing support for this visa category, companies can enhance their ability to attract top global talent, contributing to the US economy and filling critical skill gaps in the market.

See also: How to Get a US Work Visa for a Foreign Worker

“I’ve never come across a team that moves so quickly, responds to questions in almost real-time and yet is so detail-oriented. After working with them, I wouldn’t consider working with anyone else for my immigration needs. They’re simply spectacular.” —Mohak Nahta, Founder and CEO, Atlys

Strategies to enhance application success

There are several steps that can be taken to expedite your application and give it a higher chance of success.

Building a strong case involves:

  • Thoroughly documenting qualifications and contribution
  • Articulating the benefits to the US national interest
  • Obtaining expert endorsements from peers or colleagues
  • Engaging an experienced immigration attorney can significantly aid in assembling a compelling application
  • Tracking applications using automation can reduce waiting time and prevent costly mistakes

💡 Deel Immigration is the leading US immigration provider. With more than a 90% approval rate, their team of in-house immigration experts is ready to handle your visa application from start to finish so you can move to the US and start your next adventure, stress-free.

Fast-track your US visa with Deel Immigration

Deel Immigration is transforming the immigration process, offering candidates a premier experience that blends cutting-edge technology with human touch, ensuring a transparent and smooth immigration journey.

Deel’s user-friendly platform offers self-serve functionality, an application status timeline, real-time status updates, access to a dedicated case manager, and exclusive relocation services, keeping you well-informed and supported at every turn.

Connect with the Deel immigration team today to expedite your visa process and kickstart your US adventure.

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