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Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability

This is an Employment Based green card category and is available to individuals who are a member of professions holding an advanced degree or those who have exceptional ability.  This page deals with an EB-2 through the National Interest Waiver process


The employer can petition but the applicant can also self petition.  The first step in the process is to assess whether or not you qualify under the advanced degree criteria or Exceptional Ability. 


The National Interest Waiver category (NIW) requires proof that your work is of “substantial merit” and “national importance” and that you will be coming to the U.S. to continue the type of work you have been doing overseas, ensuring it continues to constitute “substantial merit” and “national importance”.


In addition, it must be shown that the applicant's “prospective endeavor” in the U.S. is so important that using the traditional route of filing a labor application would be detrimental to at least a segment of the U.S. population.

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Requirements and eligibility




When you attend an interview at your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy for your immigrant visa, you will be asked to bring with you a number of documents. These may include the following:


  • A passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of entry into the U.S.

  • The confirmation page of the DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application)

  • Two 2×2 photographs that meet U.S. Visa standards

  • Any relevant immigration documents received after your petition was filed

  • A letter from your employer confirming employment

  • Completed Medical Examination and Proof of Vaccination Forms

  • Marriage and birth certificates if you are interviewing with your family who will also come with you to the U.S.


All documents submitted should be in their original form. These will be given back to you usually at the end of the interview.

Application Process

To qualify for an EB-2 visa, your employer must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. An NIW petition can be filed by an employer or can be a self petition.  


If the green card category is current for the applicant, the I-485 can also be filed at the same time as the I-140.  In addition, the applicant can apply for work authorization and the ability to travel.


The following evidence should be submitted with Form I-485:


  • Two passport-style photos

  • Copy of approval notice for Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (under Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as Amended)

  • Copy of Form I-797, Approval notice for I-140

  • Copy of birth certificate or other records of your birth

  • Copies of all passport pages with nonimmigrant visas

  • Evidence of final compliance with the 3 or 5 years service requirement to be submitted no later than 120 days after the completion of the service requirement (Evidence of compliance must be submitted at intervals while the I-485 is pending)

  • Form I-693, Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

  • Photocopy of the Form I-797 Approval Notices for all extensions and changes of status

  • Photocopy of the Form I-20 or IAP 66 school records (front and back, including all school annotations)

  • Applicable fees

  • Form G-28, if you have an attorney representing your case

Period of stay / Family

These are green cards so as long as you meet the residency requirements and do not violate the terms of the visa you can keep them for life.


Your spouse and children can all join in the green card process.  During the process where you and your spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), your spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

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