The United States allows foreign nationals to apply for employment-based green cards. Employment-based, second-preference visa (EB-2) is one of the most common options. In addition, you can also apply for an EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) petition to waive specific requirements that are mandatory in a regular EB2 visa. If you are uncertain about what is the difference between a regular EB-2 and EB-2 NIW green card petitions, consult our knowledgeable Miami immigration attorney at AmLaw Group to learn more about these immigration options.

There are certain advantages and drawbacks for some applicants considering the EB-2 employment visa as opposed to the EB-2 national interest waiver. This article will be dedicated to understanding the eligibility requirements for an EB-2 NIW petition or if the applicant should apply for an EB-2 green card petition instead.

  • What is an EB-2 Petition?
  • What is an EB-2 NIW petition?
  • What are the Differences Between Regular EB-2 and EB-2 NIW Green Card Petitions?
  • What is the Role of an Experienced Miami Immigration Attorney?

What is an EB-2 Petition?

An EB 2 visa is an employment-based second-preference immigrant visa. It grants US permanent residency to a foreign national holding an advanced degree (or its foreign equivalent) or those who can prove exceptional ability and experience in business, science, or arts. To fit the advanced-degree qualification, you need to have a Masters degree, Ph.D., or another post-baccalaureate degree (or a Bachelors degree and five years of experience).

What is an EB-2 NIW Petition?

what is the difference between a regular eb 2 and eb 2 niw green card petitions miamiThe EB-2 visas require a job offer and labor certification. However, applicants who fall into one of these categories and whose employment would be in the national interest of the United States may apply for a national interest waiver (NIW) as a part of their EB-2 petition.

The NIW is a method of obtaining work-based US lawful permanent residence (a green card) without an employer as a sponsor. It allows applicants to avoid the labor certification process by proving that it is in the best interests of the United States to waive that process.

However, the key to obtaining this waiver is understanding how to justify that your work truly offers substantial benefits to the United States. With an EB 2 NIW visa, the applicant is considered a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

What are the Differences Between Regular EB-2 and EB-2 NIW Green Card Petitions?

The regular EB-2 and EB-2 NIW green card petitions vary regarding their requirements, processing times, and the documentation required. Our skilled Miami immigration lawyer can help you understand many aspects of the EB-2 and EB-2 NIW green card petitions, including their benefits, requirements, and application process.

Sponsorship Requirement and Labor Certification

The first step in obtaining your regular EB-2 visa is to have a potential employer. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expects that EB-2 petitions be accompanied by an approved individual labor certification from the Department of Labor obtained by your employer. You must go through a process of labor certification (PERM) to prove that there are no willing, available, or qualified US workers for that specific position. The PERM labor certification intends to protect US workers and the US job market. You must have an approved PERM labor certification before submitting any other documents.

On the other hand, you do not require a US employer to file your EB-2 NIW green card petition. You are allowed to do a self-petition.


To qualify for a regular EB-2 visa, you must show that you hold an “advanced degree” or have an “exceptional ability”. An advanced degree means that it is beyond a baccalaureate degree. Furthermore, you can prove exceptional ability by showing evidence that you have a degree of expertise and significant contributions made in sciences, arts, medicine, business, or athletics. The petition must be accompanied by at least three of the following:

  • Letters documenting at least ten years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • An official academic record showing that you have a certificate, diploma, degree, or similar award from a university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Membership in one or more professional associations, usually ones that require achievement to be a member
  • Recognition for your significant contributions and achievements to your industry by your peers, government entities, or professional or business organizations
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability

In addition, you are required to have a job offer and a labor certification. You must also meet any other requirements specified on the labor certification.

On the other hand, to obtain the benefit of the NIW category, you have to meet the following conditions:

  • The foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;
  • The foreign national is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and
  • It would be advantageous to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and labor certification.

Approval Rate

A crucial advantage to obtaining a green card under the EB-2 category is that the process often moves faster than in related labor-based visa categories. Your EB-2 visa petition typically gets approved if you fulfill the conditions laid down by the USCIS. On the other hand, the EB-2 NIW petitions require higher standards to get approved than EB-2 petitions. For an EB-2 NIW petition to get approved, you have to show that your case qualifies for the National Interest Waiver.

If a foreign applicant successfully obtains an EB-2 NIW green card, it would allow them to acquire an immigrant visa and permanent resident status in the United States without the requirement of a job offer and the lengthy process of the Department of Labor.

What is The Role of an Experienced Miami Immigration Attorney?

The EB-2 is a green card category available to those with exceptional ability or advanced degrees. It is a good option for qualified individuals hoping to get permanent resident status. Both regular EB-2 and EB-2 NIW green card petitions have distinct advantages over other employment-based visas.

In general, the NIW application process is faster than the EB-2 visa. But this is not a legitimate reason to choose one over the other. If the applicant truly believes their line of work is in the national interest, they should seek an NIW. Otherwise, they should seek an EB-2 visa.

You will need to thoroughly document your qualifications to be approved for either visa type. The process of applying for an EB-2 visa can be difficult and complex and involves successfully complying with numerous bureaucratic requirements in a time-sensitive manner. Our dependable Miami immigration attorneys at AmLaw Group can help ensure success in your visa application. Our immigration law firm has helped numerous clients in Miami obtain green cards through employment-based and other types of visas.

Contact our law office today to speak to our competent Florida immigration lawyers about our citizenship and immigration services and the green card process.

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