EB-2 and NIW: Requirements for Advanced Workers

August 7, 2017 Chelsea Iversen


The second type of employment-based green card EB-2 has laxer eligibility requirements than EB-1. However, the permanent labor certification (PERM) process is a prerequisite.

EB-2 requirements include:

  1. Professionals who hold advanced degrees.
  2. Foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.
  3. Professionals whose work benefits the national interest of the United States.


Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees

The professional must have earned an advanced academic degree or equivalent to qualify.


  • The job being filled must normally call for a worker with specific higher education.
  • Foreign nationals must provide official academic records or diplomas.
  • Equivalent work experience requires evidence of an undergraduate degree, as well as letters from current (or former) employers showing at least five years of progressive work experience in a specific specialty or field.

Foreign Nationals with Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or in Business

Professions include: lawyers, doctors, physicists, economists, analysts, professional athletes, artists and opera singers.


  • Evidence of three qualifying criteria must be shown.


Professionals with exceptional ability, and whose employment in the United States has a profoundly positive national impact, may be eligible for a National Interest Waiver (NIW).

Applying for a National Interest Waiver does not require the PERM process nor a formal job offer.

NIW Requirements:

Must provide evidence that work will have favorable impact on the United States, and benefit one of the following:

  • The U.S. economy
  • Wages and working conditions of U.S. workers
  • Education and training programs for U.S. children andunder-qualified workers
  • Healthcare
  • Affordable housing for young or older, less affluent U.S. residents
  • The U.S. environment (by efficiently using national resources)
  • International cultural understanding, or the worker must be requested by a U.S. governmental agency

Must meet at least three specific criteria to be eligible, such as documented proof of professional certification or a letter displaying 10 years of work experience in the field.

Example: Favorable impact

A childhood obesity specialist conducting groundbreaking research that will drive the development of cultural changes and positively impact the United States.

Key HR Takeaways

  • While the EB-2 case is more difficult to document and substantiate than the others, successful applicants often move faster through the process than those in other categories, since fewer qualified candidates exist.
  • When describing the job, as part of the labor certification process, employers must clearly articulate the minimum requirements for the position as holding a master’s or bachelor’s degree, plus five years of progressive experience.

EB-2 Questionnaire

  • Does the employee hold an advanced degree?
  • Does the employee have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or in business?
  • Does the employee’s field of expertise benefit the national interest of the United States?
  • If the employee does not have an advanced degree, does he or she have an undergraduate degree and at least five years of progressive work experience?
  • Does the role meet necessary requirements to begin the labor certification (PERM) process?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, the EB-2 green card may be a permanent residency option for your employee. To confirm eligibility for your foreign national, contact Envoy at (855) 847-2669 or visit envoyglobal.com/about-us/contact.

To learn more about green cards, download our Comprehensive Green Card Guide here.

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