Besides family and immediate relative immigration visas, the U.S also gives visas to people who qualify to work in the country. The EB Visas allow foreign workers who have found an employer willing to hire them to come to the U.S permanently and work without an Employment Authorization Document. The employment visas are denoted with the letter E and are of 5 types:
- EB-1 Visa or First Priority Workers Visa is for outstanding professors, researchers, people with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, business, athletics, or education, as well as executive managers who have worked at a foreign branch of a U.S company for the past 3 years
- EB-2 Visa or Second Priority Workers Visa is for professionals with advanced degrees and people with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, or business.
- EB-3 Visa or Third Priority Workers Visa is for skilled workers with more than 2 years of experience, professionals with a higher education degree, or unskilled workers with less than 2 years of experience (EW-3 Visa).
- EB-4 Visa or Fourth Priority Workers Visa is for various religious, government, or international organizations workers
- EB-5 Visa or Fifth Priority Workers Visa is for investors in the U.S who will invest between $500K to $1 million in the U.S economy
The Employment Sponsored Visas are subject to a cap of 140,000 visas per year. They are allocated between the five visas, which creates long wait times for processing. Once the limit of the visas is reached in a year, the rest of the applications wait for their turn in the coming years. That is why those who are applying for any employment based visa need to wait for their priority dates to become current in order to qualify for immigration in the U.S.
This article will go through the EB-2 visa, what it is, its requirements, application procedures, and other relevant details.
What is the EB-2 visa?
The EB-2 visa or the Second Priority Workers visa is one which targets three groups of people. These groups are:
- Advanced Degree Holders – are those who have advanced educational degrees such as a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree and 5 years of experience in their field
- People with exceptional abilities – are those who have demonstrated exceptional abilities and achievements in business, arts, or sciences
- Those who can obtain a National Interest Waiver – are those who can demonstrate that working in the U.S would benefit the country and is in the U.S national interest
If you belong to any of these groups then you have a chance to get an EB-2 visa. Getting an EB-2 visa means that you will move permanently to the U.S. You will work there in your field of expertise and you will enjoy the rights of permanent Green Card holders. You are required to pay all applicable taxes and follow the U.S laws. You are allowed to travel in and out of the U.S, change jobs after a few years, move from one state to the other and so on. Additionally, when you qualify, you can also apply for a U.S citizenship and become naturalized.
Since the employment based visas have a limit on the annual number of visas issued, out of the 140,000 immigration visas, 28.6% are allocated for EB-2 visas as well as any visas that are left from EB-1 visas. This means that 40,040 visas plus those left by the EB-1 visa are for the EB-2 visa category. Because of such a low number, the wait times for this visa are quite long.
What are the requirements for the EB-2 visa?
In order to be eligible for an EB-2 visa, there are requirements which the foreign employee or worker and the U.S employer must meet. To qualify as an Advanced Degree Holder, you must fulfill these requirements:
- Prove through academic records that you have an advanced educational degree such as a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree or a U.S equivalent
- Have previous employer’s letters proving that you have 5 years of experience in your field of expertise after you completed your Bachelor’s Degree
To qualify as a person with exceptional abilities or a national interest waiver, you must meet three of the criteria below:
- Show diplomas, certificates, or awards which prove you have achieved excellence in business, arts, or sciences, or other fields of expertise
- Have letters from employers proving at least 10 years of full-time job experience in your field of study
- Have a license or a certification which shows you are able to practice your profession
- Prove that you have had a high salary in your previous jobs which show that you have exceptional abilities
- Show that you have membership in one or more professional associations
- Prove that you have won recognitions for your achievements and contribution in your field of expertise by your peers, professional organizations, or the government
- For the national interest waiver, you must also submit proof that your work is in the interest of the U.S government
If you are a U.S employer who wants to hire a person and sponsor the foreign worker for an EB-2 visa, you must meet these requirements:
- Prove that you could not find an available, willing, or qualified U.S worker and so you need to hire a foreign worker
- Prove that you will not discriminate towards the foreign worker and will pay them the same wage you would pay a U.S worker in the same job position
- Prove that your company is financially stable and can afford to pay the foreign worker
How to apply for the EB-2 visa?
Applications for the EB-2 visas have multiple steps which involve both the employer and the foreign employee. The application process is divided in two parts:
- The U.S employer obtains labor certification and files the necessary petitions
- If approved, the foreign employee then applies for the EB-2 visa at a U.S Embassy in their home country
Application procedures from U.S employer
Getting the labor certification
The first requirement for a U.S employer to hire a foreign employee is to get a labor certification by the U.S Department of Labor. This is done by filing Form ETA 750 to the DOL. By submitting this form, the U.S employer states that they have tried to find a U.S employee for that job position but could not and that the foreign worker will be paid a prevailing wage.
The form is processed by the DOL and the employer and employee are notified of the decision. If approved, the U.S employer can go on to the next step, but if the certification is denied, then the foreign worker is not allowed to get an EB-2 visa.
Filing the petition
In addition to the labor certification, the employer must also file a petition to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done by filing Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. The employer must also attach financial statements, audits, and tax returns to prove that the company is financially stable.
USCIS will process the petition and will notify the employer. If approved, the case will go to the National Visa Center (NVC). If denied, the U.S employer is not allowed to hire a foreign worker.
When the case goes to the NVC, they will assign a case number and invoice ID number. These documents will be part of the package with instructions on how to apply that will be sent to the foreign employee in their home country. However, since there is a cap on the EB-2 visas, the NVC will only send this package when the applicant’s priority date becomes current.
Application procedures from foreign worker
File Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent
The applicant or foreign worker must complete this form which serves as an application for the EB-2 visa. The form will be processed by the U.S Embassy or Consulate that they are applying from.
Complete medical examination and vaccination
In the NVC package, there will also be requirements about medical examinations and vaccination that the applicant must conduct. The applicant must go to a licensed doctor to complete the documents and have them signed.
Compile the supporting documents file
After the NVC approves your Form DS-261, you must send the supporting documents for your case. This includes the follows:
- Your passport which must be valid for more than 6 months after your intended departure to the U.S
- Your employment offer from the U.S employer
- The approved labor certification
- The approved petition
- Your DS-261 confirmation page
- Your signed medical and vaccine documents
- Two photographs that meet the US visa Photo Requirements
- Academic achievements (diplomas and certificates)
- Your CV or resume
- Letters from previous employers
- If applying for a National Interest Waiver, submit proof of why your work is in the national interest of the U.S.
- Court and criminal records
- Depending on the case, the NVC might require other supporting documents, so you must follow their instructions carefully.
Attend the visa interview
The NVC will review your application and supporting documents and if there are no more requirements, they will schedule an interview for you at the U.S Embassy you are applying from. Attend the interview and be as specific as possible in answering the questions regarding your background and other details. The interviewer will make the final decision on whether you should be given an EB-2 visa or not.
Receive the NVC package and travel to the U.S
If your EB-2 visa is approved, you will receive a package from the NVC. You must not open this package under any circumstances. Take it with you when you travel to the U.S and give it to an immigration officer at a U.S port of entry. Only they are allowed to open it and decide whether you should be allowed to enter the country or not.
What are the EB-2 visa fees?
There are many fees which both the U.S employer and the foreign worker must pay for the EB-2 visa. The amounts vary and are decided by the DOL, USCIS, and the U.S Embassy in the country you are applying from. In general, your employer and you will have to pay the following fees:
- DOL Labor Certification fee (employer)
- USCIS Form I-140 petition filing fee (employer)
- Form DS-261 processing fee (employee)
- Medical examination fees (employee)
- Fees to obtain supporting documents (employee)
- Any translation fees from foreign language to English (employee)
How long does it take to get an EB-2 visa?
The time for EB-2 visa to be processed can range from one year to three or four years. Since there is a cap on the limit of annual visas given for EB-2, the processing time for it can be quite long. The visas are processed in order of applying, so if you have applied earlier, you might get processed faster.
Can I bring my family to the U.S with an EB-2 visa?
If you have an approved and valid EB-2 visa, then you can have your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old join you. Your spouse must apply for the E-21 visa and your children for the E-22 visa.
After they get their visas, your spouse is eligible to work in the U.S by getting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).