The process of obtaining a green card to work in the U.S. as an advanced degree professional is complicated and lengthy. The Department of Labor is strict, especially on misrepresentations of information. Furthermore, multiple modifications and updates of immigration rules are inevitable, making navigation of the green card application process tricky. If you are looking to obtain an EB-2 green card, you want top-tier legal guidance and representation to ensure you avoid the loopholes.

At California Immigration Attorney, we strive to ease our clients’ navigation of immigration processes. Whether you are an employer looking to employ foreign national workers or a foreigner seeking an EB-2 status, our law firm could help. You can count on our attorneys' proficiency in dealing with immigration cases backed by high-class professionalism to enhance the chances of successful application processes.

Overview of the EB-2 Green Card

An EB-2 visa is reserved for foreigners who have exceptional skills or advanced degrees and would like to work in the United States. The green card gives them permanent residency in the United States. In this way, foreign-born entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, and academic professionals can live and work in the U.S. and build their careers and companies as permanent inhabitants.

EB-2 Green Card visas are split into three categories, namely EB-2(A), EB-2(B), and EB-2(C).

  1. EB-2(A) is reserved for foreigners who hold an advanced degree, a master's degree, or higher, who have received a job offer from a U.S. organization or company.
  2. EB-2(B), on the other hand, is for foreign nationals who hold exceptional skills or abilities in the fields of art, science, or business and have received a job opportunity in the United States.
  3. Lastly, the EB-2(C) green card is suitable for advanced degree holders or exceptional ability foreign nationals who have no job offer in the U.S. but can prove that their professional expertise will significantly benefit the United States' welfare.

An exceptional ability worker for visa acquisition purposes is an individual who holds extraordinary abilities in the science, art, or business fields. Their presence and contribution will considerably profit the general economy, educational, or overall prosperity of the United States. An individual's ability in a particular field is analyzed to determine if they are eligible. If they meet a minimum of three out of the six exacting criteria, they qualify to apply for an EB-2 green card. The requirements that the USCIS use to determine your qualifications will follow the factors below:

  • You will require letters from a current or past employer showing that you possess a minimum of ten years of full-time experience in that occupation.
  • You need an official document showing that you hold a diploma, certificate, or any formal education in the area of your practice from a college, school, university, or any other learning institution.
  • It would be best if you showed that you acquire high earnings or payment for services due to outstanding skill in work.
  • You should have proof of membership in professional organizations related to your work.
  • Notable, remarkable works, achievements, and contributions in the industry of specialization.
  • And you possess a license allowing you to practice in that field.

Advanced degreed professionals are individuals whose work requires a U.S. advanced master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree you hold needs to be accompanied by five years' experience in that particular field of work to be valid. The job you are applying for in the U.S. must require the qualifications you hold.

If you qualify for an EB-2 green card, your spouse and children below twenty-one years can also be allowed into the U.S. as beneficiaries. A spouse is admitted in E-21 status while children are admitted in E-22 status. Your spouse can also apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An EAD allows your spouse to seek employment in the United States lawfully.

Certain conditions must be present to qualify as an applicant for an EB-2 advanced degreed professional green card. Firstly, your employer in the U.S. must file a labor certification with the labor department. Secondly, as a foreign employee, you must hold the qualifications required for the job. Lastly, your employer should pay you the required salary for your services as per your capabilities. The Department of Labor can establish an employer's ability to pay foreign workers by reviewing financial documents and tax returns; if the employer holds enough assets to pay your salary, you can apply for the EB-2 green card.

A labor certification is a document filed by a U.S. employer demonstrating that the employer has followed due processes to search for a skilled U.S. worker and failed to find one in the U.S. who qualifies for the job opportunity. The labor certification document is filed online under the Program Electronic Republic Review Management System (PERM).

Once the Department of Labor grants your employer a labor certification, your employer should proceed to outline the requirements needed for the job. The foreign worker can then apply for an EB-2 green card. If you are applying for an EB-2 advanced professional visa and you qualify for a National Interest Waiver, your employer in the U.S. will not need to file for a labor certification.

The U.S. Department of State "Visa Bulletin" shows the period after which you can get your visa after a successful application process. The waiting time depends on your country of birth and the type of visa you are applying for. The priority date is the date on which your U.S. employer filed for the labor certification. If your priority date reads “current” or "c” on the Visa Bulletin, then your green card is instantly available.

EB-2 National Interest Waiver

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) saves a U.S. employer from the need to pursue the long and expensive labor certification process to establish that the employee they want to employ would greatly benefit the United States. In such a case, your employer will need to prove that no worker in the U.S. holds the qualifications set for the job you seek. Furthermore, there is a need to establish that your wages and working environment will not negatively affect other U.S. employees in the same field by employing you.

To qualify for an NIW, your presence in the U.S. should benefit at a national level. For instance, scientific research in federal agencies or universities whose results will substantially impact the U.S. at large in a beneficial way. It would help if you established that your skills would benefit the U.S. in better ways than other U.S. workers with the same skill set as you can.

If you going through the labor certification process will significantly cost the U.S. national welfare in the work field for which you hold the skill set, then you may qualify for an NIW. To obtain an NIW, you will first be subject to scrutiny by the USCIS to determine your eligibility.

EB-2 VS EB-3 Green Cards

  1. An EB-2 visa is the second preference while EB-3 access is the third preference; EB-2 visas are highly preferred than EB-3 passes because of the former's stricter conditions.
  2. EB-2 visas are reserved for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities, while EB-3 passes are accessible for professionals and skilled and unskilled workers. Non-skilled workers being those with a work experience of below two years.
  3. Since few individuals qualify for an EB-2 visa as compared to EB-3 access, the former rarely have backlogs, and therefore, the processing time is faster than that of the EB-3 green cards.

Requirements to Apply for an EB-2A Green Card

  • You should hold authentic documents demonstrating possession of a U.S. advanced degree or its foreign equivalent. Advanced degree examples are Ph.D., Master's, an M.D. (medicine), or a Juris Doctor (J.D. or law degree). You can provide academic documents, including copies of diplomas, degrees or certificates you hold, official transcripts, and any other formal papers from the institution where you studied.
  • If you hold a bachelor’s degree, you should carry official documents and letters from your employers showing at least five consecutive years of experience in the field of specialty.
  • If you have a job offer in the U.S., ensure you provide a letter from your employer describing their desire to employ you, the nature of the employment, and a description of the company. Furthermore, your employer can provide annual financial reports of the company video to prove that they have enough finances to pay your salary.

The Process of Application

For you to obtain an EB-2A visa, a three-step procedure is followed. The application starts with the PERM process that entails filing of the labor certification by your employer. However, if you qualify for NIW, you can skip the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) process. Processing of a labor certification takes approximately six months.

The second step involves your employer filling the I-140 form, a petition for an employer looking to employ foreign nationals to allow the foreigner to obtain a visa. The petition seeks permission for a foreign national, referred to as the beneficiary, to work in the U.S. permanently. Your employer needs to indicate whether you will apply for an Adjustment of Status (AOS) or apply for an appropriate EB-2 visa in your home country's embassy.

The form is then submitted to the USCIS for review. After the USCIS receives the I-140 form, you need to wait for your EB-2 visa priority date to be issued if your petition is approved. The approval notice can take approximately three months or more depending on the accumulation of petitions at the Service Centre where your employer filed your case.

Acceleration of your I-140 processing time is possible by applying for the premium processing process. You will need to file the I-907 form and pay a fee of $1,440 for the service. You can file for Premium Processing as you file your I-140 form or after you have submitted it.

As a beneficiary, you need to know that you cannot file for premium processing yourself, not unless you filed the I-140 petition yourself. Your employer or attorney is required to file for the premium processing process on your behalf. The USCIS can grant or deny the petition. If granted, your petition is processed within fifteen work-days, and if denied, the filing fee is refunded.

The third step depends on whether you are already in the United States or not. If you are in the U.S., all you need to do is apply for an AOS by filling in the Form I-485 to be changed by the USCIS into the EB-2 status. After submitting the AOS form, you may be required by the USCIS to attend an interview or provide further evidence. Once all requirements are met, you will be called by USCIS officials to the USCIS Support Centre for taking fingerprints and photographs for security processing. Further processing is carried out, and if there are no issues, your visa will be mailed to you by the USCIS.

On the other hand, if you are not in the United States, you will need to follow the full application for an EB-2A green card. The process starts with filing an EB-2 application form followed by booking an interview with the embassy or consular in your home country. During the interview, you must provide supporting documents to show that you qualify for the EB-2 advanced Professionals' visa. Expect to answer questions about the nature of academic and professional qualifications, your occupation, your U.S. employer, and other personal information.

After the one-on-one interview, the consular officer will determine whether you are eligible for an EB-2 visa, and if you qualify, they will process the green card. You can then travel to the United States and work there as a permanent resident.

Factors Affecting the Time It Takes to Obtain an EB-2A Green Card

Compared to other visas, the advantage of an EB-2A visa is that fewer people meet the set qualifications; hence, this category is in lower demand. Furthermore, the U.S. government only avails a limited number of spaces for this particular visa every year. Your visa processing wait time is therefore significantly lessened as the system is not overloaded. Let us look at an overview of the time taken for a visa to be ready.

Processing time for I-140 is the time taken by the USCIS to process your EB-2 visa, after which you receive your immigration visa or status change you applied for if you are eligible. Queue time, on the other hand, is the period you should wait after filing the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (AOS) form before you can apply for a green card.

Only a limited number of slots are available for a particular immigration category annually. Consequently, your queue time will extend if the number of places is depleted. No matter how qualified you are, if the spaces for a specific immigration category are all taken, you will need to wait until more slots are available.

Queue time is influenced by the priority date and the cut-off-date of your application as per your immigration category. The priority date is the date on which the USCIS receives your petition. If you need labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), your priority date will be when the DOL receives your employer's accreditation application for processing. On the other hand, if a labor certification is unnecessary for your case, your priority date will be when the USCIS receives your I-140 form.

The cut-off dates are determined by your country of birth and the category of immigration. You can check for the cut-off date at the United States Department of State (USDOS) website. The dates are published monthly and organized according to the country of birth and visa category. If the dates read "current," then you can apply for Adjustment of Status. However, if it reads "U" or "unauthorized," you need to consult an immigration attorney.

Furthermore, once you apply for your green card, the USCIS will need to process your green card, after which you will have completed the application process, and if you are approved, you will receive your green card. The period you need to wait is known as the Adjustment of Status (AOS) Processing Time. The period varies depending on which office is handling the case and also other circumstances beyond your control.

The sum of the time taken from application to final processing of the EB-2 green card varies depending on the authorities' workload and the availability of evidence that all the conditions set for this particular green card are met. If all evidence is substantial and satisfactory, and there are no further issues, your visa processing time may be shorter. However, if other proof is required, the USCIS will issue you with a Request for Evidence (RFE), which requires you to provide additional documents.

The RFE can slow down your visa acquisition process. Generally, a twelve-week response period is provided to organize and avail your documents for further analysis. If you adhere to the set period, your green card processing will resume, but if you submit the documents late, your visa processing time can be adversely affected.

Changing Employers after Receiving an EB-2A Green Card Admission into the U.S

Regulations for applying for an advanced professionals’ green card require that the work position offer you to be permanent. However, you can still lawfully shift jobs after a certain period. The offer's permanence typically indicates that the job is available to you for an infinite period and that you have chosen to accept it in good faith.

No specific duration is set within which you must remain on the job after receiving an EB-2A visa. However, if you decide to move to another position within a short period after receiving the green card, the USCIS may deem this an act of bad faith. It can be assumed you accepted the job opportunity with the sole intention of obtaining U.S. permanent residency. In such a case, your green card's validity could be affected, and the USCIS can decide to revoke the visa altogether.

We advise that you remain in the job that led to your admission on a B2-A visa for approximately six months to one year after issuing the green card. The duration is sufficient to prove that your intentions for accepting the job offer were in good faith and without hidden motives. Ensure you preserve all documents that can prove that you remained in the company after the green card issuance. If, for unavoidable circumstances, you must leave the job for which you acquired the visa, ensure you retain the proof of such events.

The Role of an Immigration Attorney in the EB-2A Visa Application Process

An immigration attorney can file all the documents for the application for an EB-2 visa on your behalf. The attorney holds years of experience in dealing with immigration law and is, therefore, better suited to carry out the application process. You can rest assured that the attorney will apply their knowledge in ensuring your application form is accurately filed and backed by supporting documents. In the application of EB-2A visas, it is critical to get it right on the first application to save on processing time.

Furthermore, your attorney can file for the premium processing process, which hastens the processing of your I-140 form and therefore significantly reduces the overall time it takes for your green card to be processed. Alternatively, you can apply for an NIW after consulting your attorney and establishing that you are eligible for the waiver.

An immigration attorney can also take you through applying for an AOS. An application for a change of status places you under strict scrutiny by the USCIS, and any slight brushes with the law could lead to your application's rejection. In such situations where your career's future matters most, it is critical to ensure you obtain top-notch legal guidance to safeguard yourself.

Find an Immigration Attorney Near Me

The need to comply with numerous bureaucratic conditions and the time-sensitivity of acquiring an EB-2A green card can prove stressful a process to undertake on your own. At the California Immigration Attorney, we handle visa application procedures on your behalf. Our attorneys hold many years of professional experience in immigration issues and are therefore skilled to handle the complex and sensitive green card application processes.

Our attorneys are diligent in handling all immigration matters and work in line with the rules and regulations of the USCIS to ensure a smooth and successful process for our clients. Our defense for clients facing prosecution in immigration courts is robust and is accompanied by well-planned litigation to preserve our clients' best interests. We offer immigration services to foreigners who want to move to California as advanced professionals. Contact us at 424-789-8809.