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If you are looking to hire foreign workers for your business, the U.S. allows a fixed number of green cards under the EB-2 green card every year.
Applicants for the EB-2 visa, an employment-based visa, are categorized based on their skills, background, and knowledge. An EB-2 green card is available for those foreign workers who fall into the United States’ second preferred category. They are available for individuals who fall into the following EB-2 visa categories. One of the requirements for EB-2 visa applicants is having a job from a sponsoring U.S. employer. The remaining requirements are outlined in the guide below.
Wondering if an EB-3 might be more appropriate for you? Check out this EB-2 vs. EB3 guide.
The EB-2 subcategories are:
Immigrants seeking an EB-2 green card under the Exceptional Ability or National Interest Waiver categories must additionally meet at least three of the following requirements:
How to Qualify for an EB-2 Without an Advanced Degree
The overall EB-2 visa processing time can range from 10 months to 2 years, depending on how long your I-140 takes to process and when a visa becomes available.
We can’t provide a definitive timeline for the total time it takes for your case to process since it will depend on several factors including your country of origin, the service center that processes your I-140, the documents in your submission, etc. Typically, the I-140 processing time takes anywhere from 6-9 months. However, premium processing is an option that can save you valuable time. The cost to opt for premium processing is $2,500. The standard I-140 filing fee (regular processing) is $700. To get the most accurate case processing time, use this USCIS case tool.
For those applying overseas through consular processing, you can expect to wait 4-6 months to receive word from the U.S. embassy/consulate after a visa becomes available. In terms of how long the adjustment of status takes, that will depend significantly on the service center processing the case.
EB-2 I-140 petitions achieve an approval rate of between 83% and 96%. Our lawyers have an exceptional track record of securing approvals! Learn more in this EB-2 visa approval guide!
To successfully receive an EB-2 green card, applicants and their employers must follow a three-step process.
1. The first step is for the employer who wishes to hire a foreign worker to file with the U.S. Department of Labor for Permanent Labor Certification using the Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) System.
The employer must certify that a job opening is available in a specified professional field, the job is also available to U.S. workers, the employer needs a foreign worker, and the pay is at a prevailing industry rate.
2. Your employer will need to undergo an extensive recruiting process to ensure no qualified American workers are available to take the position. Going through this process correctly is critical, as raising suspicion may trigger an audit from the Department of Labor. This could delay your processing time for up to a year and a half.
3. If the employer meets the requirements, the Department of Labor will issue the necessary PERM form. EB-2 green card applicants seeking a National Interest Waiver (NIW) may skip this first step.
4. After receiving the PERM form, the employer wishing to sponsor a foreign worker for an EB-2 green card must complete and file form I-140, the petition for the EB-2 visa. After receiving the petition, the applicant must wait for their EB-2 priority date to be eligible to proceed to the next step. The priority date depends on when USCIS received the application.
Here’s a summary of the broader green card process steps:
Learn how to perform EB-2 to EB-1 porting in this guide!
This section covers the PERM timeline for EB-2 cases. In 2023, the average PERM Labor Certification processing time is about four months for preparation, then six months for the application processing. The prevailing wage determination is part of this process as well and takes anywhere from 2-4 months. Recruiting also takes 60 days at a minimum. In terms of a timeline, make sure to present the PERM Labor Certification within 180 days of beginning any recruiting efforts. Essentially, this process aims to ensure no domestic workers are willing and able to carry out the job available.
You can find your wait time by looking at the monthly Visa Bulletin.
Go to the Employment-Based Preferences chart, and identify your category (EB-2) on the left-hand side. Some countries have longer wait times than others depending on the per-country visa cap number of submissions. You will compare the cutoff date to your priority date (when USCIS received or I-130 or when DOL received the labor certification from the employer). If on the Dates for Filing box chart, the section is says “current,” that means your priority date is current, and visas are available. Once you see that it’s current, you can contact the National Visa Center to move forward.
It changes over time depending on how many visa applications are being processed. Applicants need to be aware of retrogression in the priority date. It occurs when more applicants for an EB-2 green card are available than the allocated green cards.
For example, if the current processing time is three months and suddenly there is a spike in the number of applications, only applicants who have filed at least six months ago might be allowed to proceed to the next step. This means that as soon as you can proceed to the final step, it is in your interest to do so if you do not want to experience delays in the EB-2 processing time.
When applicants can proceed to the final step, they may follow one of two different procedures.
If the applicant is not in the United States, they must be interviewed at a U.S. Consulate office in their home country. The consular office will process the application from there and determine whether the individual qualifies for an EB-2 green card.
Consular processing is done through a one-on-one interview with a consular officer who will ask specific questions about your employer, your occupation, and your arrangements in the U.S. If the officer clears you, you can travel to the U.S. and get stamped as a legal permanent resident.
If the applicant is already in the United States on a different visa, they must adjust their status to the EB-2 using Form I-485.
Applicants will then be told to go to a USCIS Application Support Center for security processing, which generally requires fingerprinting and taking your picture. Some applicants may be required to attend an interview. The final decision will be mailed to the applicant once it is available.
Check out this EB-1 NIW FAQ Guide.
The total processing time varies tremendously depending on your country of origin and the service center that processes your I-140. On average, however, the petition takes about six months to process.
If you are required to get a PERM Labor Certification, that could take anywhere from eight months to two years depending on whether or not your employer is audited after the recruitment process. To ensure the best chances of avoiding an audit, make sure you work alongside an immigration attorney.
If six months is too long to wait for your I-140, you may consider opting for the premium processing service. The USCIS offers this optional feature and shortens your petition processing time from about six months to 15 calendar days for a fee of $2,500
Once USCIS approves your petition, you must wait until your priority date is current. For most countries, the date will be current as soon as the petition is approved. However, for EB-2 processing time for India and China, the dates may not be current for several years. The only way to expedite this process is to port your green card petition from EB-2 to EB-1, which is no easy task.
After your priority date is current, you can submit your I-485, which will take around six months to process. Again, like the I-140, this depends on the caseload of your service center.
All told, without premium processing, the total EB-2 processing time can range from a year and a half to several years. Because this varies from case to case, speak with your attorney to better understand how long you can expect to wait for your EB-2 visa.
Below are some frequently requested answers to common questions.
An EB-2 Green Card is an immigrant visa that allows foreign professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities to live and work permanently in the United States.
Individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts, or business are eligible for an EB-2 Green Card. They must have a job offer from a U.S. employer and meet specific criteria.
The EB-1 Green Card is for individuals with extraordinary abilities, while the EB-2 Green Card is for those with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities. EB-1 has higher eligibility requirements compared to EB-2.
Yes, individuals with exceptional abilities can self-petition for an EB-2 Green Card. They must demonstrate their exceptional skills and show that their work will benefit the United States.
The PERM labor certification process is required for most EB-2 Green Card applicants. It involves the employer testing the U.S. job market to prove that no qualified U.S. workers are available for the position.
The National Interest Waiver category allows individuals with exceptional abilities to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements for the EB-2 Green Card if they can demonstrate that their work is in the national interest of the United States.
The processing time for an EB-2 Green Card varies and can take several months to several years, depending on various factors such as USCIS processing times, visa availability, and the applicant’s circumstances.
You can include your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old in your EB-2 Green Card application as derivative beneficiaries.
After obtaining an EB-2 Green Card, you can change employers. However, the new job should be in the same or similar occupational category as the original job offer.
Yes, a job offer from a U.S. employer is generally required for an EB-2 Green Card, except for individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver.
Yes, you can apply for an EB-2 Green Card while in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant visa. However, you must maintain your legal status until the green card is granted.
If your EB-2 Green Card application is denied, you may have the option to appeal the decision or submit a motion to reopen or reconsider the case, depending on the circumstances.
Yes, there are annual limits or quotas for EB-2 Green Cards. However, the availability of visas depends on the applicant’s country of birth and the preference category.
No, your dependents (spouse and children) must separately apply for work authorization or an employment-based visa if they wish to work in the United States.
A labor certification may be waived in certain cases, such as for individuals with exceptional abilities seeking a National Interest Waiver. However, a labor certification is required for most EB-2 Green Card applications.
You can apply for an EB-2 Green Card with a foreign degree. However, the degree must be equivalent to a U.S. advanced degree and accompanied by an official evaluation.
Yes, you can still be eligible for an EB-2 Green Card if you have exceptional abilities in your field, even if you don’t have an advanced degree. The focus is on your exceptional skills and achievements.
While your EB-2 Green Card application is pending, you can generally travel using your valid nonimmigrant visa. However, it’s essential to consult an immigration attorney to ensure proper compliance with travel restrictions.
Certain individuals who initially applied for an EB3 employment-based immigrant visa can potentially upgrade their status to EB2, which offers certain advantages and benefits. Learn more in this EB-3 to EB-2 Porting guide.
A criminal record may impact your eligibility for an EB-2 Green Card. Each case is evaluated individually, and certain criminal offenses can result in ineligibility or require a waiver.
The U.S. Department of Labor has designated physical therapists as occupations with a national shortage. They can file for a green card by demonstrating that they have secured a permanent job offer to work in the U.S., speak adequate English, and have several other qualifications. Learn more in this EB-2 for Physical Therapists guide.
Yes, you can apply for an EB-2 Green Card from outside the United States. The process typically involves filing an immigrant petition with the USCIS and completing consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
Certain individuals who initially applied for an EB2 employment-based immigrant visa can potentially upgrade their status to EB1, which grants them higher priority and benefits. Learn more in this EB-2 to EB-1 Porting guide.
When it comes to employment-based immigration, you want to get it right the first time. Just like you wouldn’t sell your home without a realtor, you shouldn’t attempt to navigate immigration law without an experienced attorney.
The EB-2 green card attorneys at VisaNation Law Group have extensive experience with complex employment immigration cases and can assist you with all stages of the process. VisaNation Law Group’s EB-2 immigration attorneys can help you create the best strategy to efficiently meet and document all EB-2 requirements and reduce the EB-2 processing time.
We can help your employees obtain EB-2 green cards with minimal delays as we have the experience to help you cut through the bureaucratic red tape. We can also ensure that an EB-2 green card is the most appropriate visa program for you or your employees. If not, we have the experience to help you with alternatives.
Book consultation today with a VisaNation attorney for a comprehensive evaluation of your eligibility for an EB-2 green card.