EB-2 visas are for qualifying individuals who wish to immigrate permanently to the United States for reasons of employment. These are second-preference immigrant visas, meaning that the visas only become available once all EB-1 visas are awarded.

In a previous post, we discussed EB-2 (a) visas for people with certain advanced degrees and EB-2 (b) visas for people of exceptional ability in business, science or the arts. A third category exists within the EB-2 visa: EB-2 (c) visas for people and jobs that meet the criteria for a national interest waiver.

Although the jobs qualifying for a national interest waiver are not spelled out by statute, EB-2 (c) visas are generally granted to individuals of exceptional ability whose work would greatly benefit the U.S. The definition of exceptional ability is the same as is used for the EB-2 (b) visa, which is that you have expertise “significantly above that ordinarily encountered,” but not necessarily expertise putting you at the very top of your field.

Some examples of people who have been granted a national interest waiver include physicians in medically underserved areas, Ph.D. students, research associates, post-doctoral researchers, post-doctoral fellows, and certain non-doctoral professionals, such as engineers, who are closely involved in pioneering research.

To qualify, you must meet at least three of the criteria below and also demonstrate that it is in the national interest for you to work permanently in the U.S. Unlike with the other EB-2 visas, you do not need a job offer.

  • Your official academic record of your degree, diploma, certificate or the like from an institution of higher learning
  • Letters which document at least 10 years’ full-time experience in your field
  • Your professional license or a certification
  • Pay history or salary indicating exceptional ability
  • Professional association memberships
  • Recognition of your achievements or significant contributions to your field by government entities, peers, or business or professional organizations
  • Other comparable evidence

When you seek a national interest waiver, you are asking to have the required labor certification waived. You are able to self-petition, meaning you do not need an employer-sponsor. You can file your own Form I-140, “Petition for Alien Worker.”

If you are granted an EB-2 visa, your spouse and any children under age 21 may be admitted to the U.S. using E-21 and E-22 immigrant visas, respectively. Your spouse can file for an employment authorization document during the process for applying for a green card (lawful permanent resident status).

If you are interested in a national interest waiver-based EB-2 visa, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience assisting medical doctors, scientists, and researchers immigrate to the United States and can help ensure the process moves forward smoothly.