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EB-1 Visa vs EB-2 Visa: Whats the difference?

Posted on June 26, 2022
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By Heather Beliles, M. Ed.

There are quite a few significant differences between EB-1 and EB-2 visas. The primary factors being that EB-1 is first preference, hence the 1 in its title, and the latter being second preference. This post will compare an EB-1 visa vs an EB-2 visa.

The underlying reasoning is the EB-1 visa is designed for applicants with extraordinary professional abilities. Meaning the petitioner is either a highly talented professor or researcher with outstanding background, or he or she has been a business executive or a manager for a multinational  company. Conversely, the EB-2 is for individuals holding advanced degrees in their profession, with an emphasis in business, arts or sciences.

Although both are employment-based immigration statuses with extraordinary abilities as their foundations, EB-1 and EB-2 visas set petitioners up for a great pathway for getting a green card in the United States.

Check out our post which jobs qualify for a national interest waiver for more information about qualifying for a NIW visa.

Advantages of an EB-1 Visa Over an EB-2

An advantage of the EB-1 visa is that none of its subcategories require the petitioner’s application to be processed through Program Electronic Review Management (PERM), meaning the applicant does not need to get an additional labor certification. The U.S.-based employer does not have to test the United State labor market for a qualified individual, and likewise is not required to prove there was a qualified applicant to fill the role. This speeds up the process for EB-1 visa applicants by at least one year.

What Are the Priority Dates for EB-1 and EB-2 Visas?

As of June 2022, the EB-1 visa priority dates are current for all eligible countries. EB-2 visas, however, are current for all countries except two. The priority date for petitioners from China is March 1, 2019, and for those from India it is September 1, 2014. The U.S. Department of State publishes these visa bulletins on their website monthly, which also includes the following month. 

Petitioners should reference the visa bulletin each month to verify whether their priority date matches or surpasses the final action date – according to his or her category and country. When the date is current, the applicant can move forward with petitioning for an adjustment of status, or proceed with consular processing. 

Employment-based Visas for Non-U.S. Citizens With Extraordinary Abilities

Individuals seeking an employment-based visa, work authorization in the United States and permanent residency can do so with what is called an EB-1 visa. This visa category is conditional on the basis that the foreign national must demonstrate extraordinary abilities in their profession. The requirements, eligibility and sponsorship details are outlined as follows:

Requirements and Eligibility

There are three subcategory qualifiers for the first-preference visa. The subcategories are titled respectively:

  • EB-1A: Alien of Extraordinary Ability
  • EB-1B: Outstanding Researcher
  • EB-1C: Multinational Manager

Foreign nationals are required to:

  • Show evidence of extraordinary abilities in his or her profession
  • Demonstrate how he or she is an outstanding professor or researcher
  • Be a multinational business executive or manager of a foreign company, and is going to transfer to that company in the United States

Furthermore, professors and researchers must already have three years or more of experience in teaching, or in research within their relevant academic field. His or her reasoning for obtaining admittance to the U.S. must be for pursuance in tenure or tenure track teaching. Or, it must be for an equivalent research position at a higher education institution, or at any other private employer. 

It is imperative the applicant includes an offer letter from the prospective employer in their visa application. Private employers are required to provide its documented accomplishments as well as proof that it employs at least three full-time researchers.

Regarding multinational managers or executives, such applicants must show evidence he or she has been employed outside the U.S. for a minimum of one year within the previous three years of the application. If the applicant is already working for the petitioning employer, he or she will just be required to show their most recent nonimmigrant admission to the United States. 

In conjunction with this requirement, the U.S.-based petitioner must also show record of business conducted for at least one year, meet the relationship qualifications of the non-U.S. company where the petitioner previously worked, and finally that the U.S.-based employer demonstrates intent to employ the applicant in a managerial or executive role within the company. 

Sponsorship

EB-1 visas may be granted without sponsorship from a U.S.-based employer, whereas the visa applicants are permitted to petition on their own behalf.

The immigration attorneys at Shoreline Immigration are experienced in working with employment-based visa applicants. To consult an attorney, contact us today, by calling (832) 203-8750 or emailing clientsupport@ljhlaw.com.

EB-2 Visa

The EB-2 is designed for individuals who have advanced degrees or exceptional ability in his or her field. The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is an option for the applicant to receive a waiver of the job requirements, provided the individual shows evidence of how his or her work is beneficial to the United States.  

EB-2 Visa Requirements and Eligibility

There are two subcategory qualifiers for the second-preference visa. The subcategories are titled respectively: 

  • EB-2: PERM-based 
  • EB-2: National Interest Waiver

Foreign nationals are required to:

  • Already have a job offer from a business or company inside the United States
  • Have either a Master’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree plus five years of post-Bachelor’s work experience, 
    • Have other exceptional abilities in their field, or in arts or sciences, or
    • Have exceptional abilities in a business which is beneficial to the United States’s culture, welfare, economy, or education interests

Additionally, the role in the U.S.-based company must require the applicant to have the following, at minimum:

  • A Master’s degree, or
  • A Bachelor’s degree plus 5 years of post-Bachelor’s work experience, and
  • The degree education, work experience as well as skills required for the position

EB-2 Visa Sponsorship

Furthermore, the U.S.-based employer must complete the PERM process, which usually takes about a year. This means the employer is required to test the labor market within the United States for employees qualified for the role, and subsequently provide evidence there were none who demonstrated the qualifications.

As previously mentioned, the EB-2 NIW allows applicants to get a waiver of the PERM process. EB-2 NIW visa applicants can apply on their own behalf, do not require a U.S.-based sponsor and are not required to have an offer letter from an employer.

U.S.-based employers are required to show their capability of paying its hired EB-1 and/or EB-2 employee until he or she obtains permanent residence in the United States. If the category is an NIW, the employer is not required to show ability to pay the wages.

Conclusion of EB-1 Visa vs EB-2 Visa: Whats the difference?

In conclusion, EB-1 visa applicants must show either an extraordinary ability in their profession, or be outstanding professors and researchers. Applicants for such visas must show evidence of their extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, business, or education by virtue of acclaim either nationally, or internationally. EB-1 visa applicants are not required to receive an offer letter in order to apply, nor is an extra labor certification required. Meaning the individual does not have to wait while their employer tests the United States labor market through the PERM process. 

If the applicant does not meet the minimum required criterion points, he or she will need to show proof of a Pulitzer prize, Oscar award, Olympic medal, or any other comparable one-time achievement. Furthermore, it is imperative the applicant applies to work in a field in which he or she has expertise, and will continue working in that field. In short, the applicant must demonstrate international recognition for his or her outstanding achievements in the relevant field. 

EB-2 visa applicants must have either an advanced degree, or have exceptional ability in their field. While there are requirements from the petitioner, there are also requirements from the proposed employer. Such prerequisites include that the employer requires an advanced degree and that the applicant must hold that degree, or a foreign equivalent. As labor certifications are required for EB-2 visas, the employer must test the U.S. labor market and likewise must show validation their search failed to find a U.S. citizen counterpart qualified for the position.

For individuals applying for an EB-2 visa on the basis of exceptional ability, he or she must prove such ability in fields like arts or sciences, or in business. This means the applicant possesses a degree of expertise which is significantly higher than others typically found in the sciences, arts or business. 

The spouses and children (under the age of 21) of either employment-based visa holder can apply for admission to the U.S. after the visa holder’s I-140 is approved.

There are several considerations the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services requires for National Interest Waivers. Such factors are:

  • The applicant’s proposed endeavor demonstrates national importance to the United States as well as substantial merit
  • The applicant is well-positioned to further his or her proposed endeavor
  • It would greatly benefit the United States to waive the job offer requirement as well as any additional labor certifications otherwise required of the applicant

Frequently Asked Questions About EB-1 vs EB-2: What's the Difference? (FAQs)

Can I apply for an EB-1 and EB-2 visa simultaneously?

Yes, it is permissible to apply for both visas simultaneously. For a more expedited process, applicants can file Forms I-140 and I-485 at the same time.

Am I eligible for porting to an EB-1 visa from an EB-2?

There isn’t really any method for switching from one to another, however applicants with new positions and qualifications can obtain an EB-1 green card after having had an EB-2. The applicant would need to file a new petition for the EB-1.

What are the benefits of submitting Forms I-140 and I-485 at the same time?

Doing so increases the individual’s chance of being offered a green card, as well as early work authorization for spouses and children, when applicable

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