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Advanced degree or exceptional ability? Consider an EB-2 visa

With the right combination of background, education and talent, you may be able to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. The United States offers 140,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year for people who wish to immigrate based on their job skills.

In the past, we've discussed EB-1 visas for people with extraordinary ability, for outstanding professors and researchers, and for multinational managers and executives. Today, we'll begin covering the next type of preference-based employment visa, the EB-2.

EB-2 (a) visas for people holding advanced degrees or similar experience

To qualify, you must demonstrate that you hold advanced degree from the U.S. or an equivalent degree from a foreign university. An advanced degree is one higher than a bachelor's degree. However, you can also qualify with a bachelor's degree or its equivalent if you have at least five years of progressive experience in your specialty.

To document your degree, you will need an official academic record. You can document your experience with letters from your current or former employers.

EB-2 (b) visas for people of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business

To qualify, you must demonstrate that you have "a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered" in the arts, sciences or business. This is less than is required, however, for the EB-1 (a) "extraordinary ability" visa. To demonstrate exceptional ability, you must provide at least three of the following:

  • An official academic record of your degree, diploma, certificate or similar award from an institution of learning which relates to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your field
  • A professional license or a certification for your occupation or profession
  • Salary or other pay history that indicates exceptional ability
  • Membership in professional associations
  • Recognition by peers, government entities, or professional or business organizations of your achievements and significant contributions to your field
  • Other comparable evidence of exceptional ability in your field

Things to know when applying

EB-2 visas typically require both a job offer and an approved individual labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. Your employer must also "test the market" (place recruitment ads) to demonstrate that the position being offered could not be filled by a qualified U.S. worker.  Your employer must then file a Form I-140 "Petition for Alien Worker."

Due to the limited number of immigrant, employment-based visas available each year, EB visas are awarded based on preference category, with EB-1 visas being awarded first. EB-2 visas are awarded only if there are fewer than 140,000 qualifying EB-1 applicants.

If you are interested in an employment-based visa, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We can help you determine which visa or visas you may qualify for and ensure the process moves forward as smoothly as possible.

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