Second preference, employment-based (EB-2) visa applicants who are petitioning for a National Interest Waiver (NIW) will need to attend a mandatory interview with an immigration officer (or a consular officer). The overarching purposes of an EB-2 NIW interview are for specific components of the original NIW petition to be verified and to address the petitioner's personal and historical immigration details. Also, so the petitioner can provide evidentiary documentation and further justification and/or clarification regarding such details.

An EB-2 interview is often referred to as a green card interview, an adjustment of status interview or an I-485 interview. Likewise, the process is the same for petitioners who are currently in the U.S. as well as those living outside of the country. Completing this step is essential to becoming a green card holder and continuing their endeavors in the U.S.

Steps Prepare for an EB-2 NIW Interview

Preparing for an EB-2 NIW interview requires complete attention-to-detail, involving thoroughness and accuracy. From gathering original documents, to securing an interpreter if needed, and arranging for relevant family members to attend (when applicable).

The interview is the stage where original documents, records and verbal accounts will be validated by a consular officer (for overseas applicants), or by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer (for intra-country applicants). In both cases, this interview is required.

When preparing for the interview, the following steps should be carefully followed:

  • Step One: Receive and review the Notice of Action (Form I-797), detailing pertinent information regarding the documents required for the interview. 
  • Step Two: Gather all appropriate documentation — which serves as evidence that supports the original EB-2 NIW petition. This step will be outlined in greater detail further below.
  • Step Three: Review the original EB-2 NIW Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140) document portfolio.
  • Step Four: Arrange all required documents so that they are ready to present to the interviewing officer, and secure any necessary interpreter and/or family members for the interview date.
  • Step Five: Pay all relevant pre-interview fees.
  • Step Six: Schedule the EB-2 NIW interview with a USCIS or consular officer.

Note, it is important for petitioners to review his or her original EB-2 NIW I-140 application packet, preparing to discuss the petition elements such as their higher education degrees, professional work history, proposed endeavor, expert opinion letters, and any progress made within the endeavor.

You may also want to read our article discussing how hard it is to get an EB-2 NIW visa.

EB-2 NIW Applicants who are already in the U.S

Applicants who are already in the U.S., and are applying to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), a USCIS officer will send another I-797 via mail. This serves as a notice which specifies the date, time and location of the interview.

Likewise, applicants who are outside of the U.S. will receive a notice for the steps below. In the event where the EB-2 NIW applicant’s Priority Date is current, or is likely to soon become current, the National Visa Center (NVC) will first:

  1. Send an invoice to the applicant for their visa application fees
  2. Collect the applicant’s visa application and supporting documents
  3. Hold the applicant’s visa petition until an interview can be scheduled with a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Then, the NVC will schedule the EB-2 NIW interview for the applicant, and subsequently inform him or her of their date, time and location of the interview.

EB-2 NIW Interview Checklist

The processing guidelines may differ between international embassies and consulates, therefore it is crucial that NIW petitioners refer to the applicable agency’s requirements. Most of the time, however, the following documents will be required during an EB-2 NIW interview:

  • All evidentiary documentation that correspond with the responses in the original NIW petition packet
  • Personal identification (government-issued), such as passport (must be valid for the next six months), original birth certificate, driver’s license, etc.
  • Arrival and Departure Records (Form I-94)
  • Additional relevant documents not previously submitted 
  • Certified translation of all documents not in English
  • Original marriage certificate, if applicable 
  • All other supporting documents previously submitted with the originally application, such as:
    • Curriculum vitae (CV), resume, certified educational transcript(s) and/or educational equivalency, civil documents, every I-797, tax documents, etc.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if applicable
  • Job offer letter from the sponsoring employer, and/or employment letter, if applicable
  • Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability (Form I-485 Supplement J), if applicable
  • Advance parole document, if applicable
  • Approval notice for Form I-140, if applicable
  • Medical report provided by (and sealed by) a pre-authorized physician
  • Evidence of any required vaccinations
  • Two passport-sized photos (must be in color)
  • Updates made to marital status, telephone number, mailing address, etc.
  • Evidence corroborating with the continued engagement in the field of proposed endeavor, such as:
    • For employees: recent letter from the employing sponsor confirming job duties, as well as records of a compensation for such work
    • For entrepreneurs: recent bank statements for the business, tax returns, contracts, payroll summary(ies)
  • Original court-certified record of previous arrest(s) and crime convictions, if applicable

The above checklist is not all-inclusive, therefore it is important to refer to the embassy’s or consulate’s website for any additional documents which may be required for an EB-2 NIW interview.

Also, it may be helpful to read our guide on writing an EB-2 NIW business plan.

What To Expect During an EB-2 NIW Interview

During an EB-2 NIW interview, petitioners should expect to provide details regarding their original NIW petition, pay any visa-related fees and provide fingerprints, upon request.

Initially, the interviewing officer will verify the identity of each participant. Then, he or she will inquire about the petitioner’s: 

  • Current resident status
  • Previous personal, educational and professional experience
  • Professional qualifications
  • Proposed endeavor
  • Where the petitioner will be working (for both sponsored employees and entrepreneurs)
  • Relevant job offer(s)
  • Changes in employment
  • Any progress or advancement made since their I-140 was approved
  • Immigration history
  • Any criminal records
  • Changes in marital status
  • Intentions for applying for the EB-2 NIW, and why they wish to work specifically in the U.S.

Upon favorable success of the EB-2 NIW interview, petitioners will receive a temporary permanent residence document, stating such approval. 

Individuals already inside the U.S. will receive an I-551 machine-readable immigrant visa (MRIV) stamp in his or her passport. Then, the USCIS officer will mail the physical green card within two or three weeks. Conversely, individuals attending a consular processing interview will receive a visa packet (which is to remain unopened), and will be required to pay the USCIS immigrant fee. When he or she arrives at a U.S. port of entry, they’ll need to provide the seald visa packet to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.

In the event that additional documentation or further internal processing is required, the interviewing officer will inform the petitioner of the next steps. Understandably, the EB-2 NIW application approval process will be paused until the requested evidence has been provided.

Whether the case is denied, approved or if further processing is needed, the interviewing officer will communicate such determination to the petitioner — at the end of the interview.

Tips for EB-2 NIW Interview Success

Before the EB-2 NIW interview: Petitioners must ensure all pertinent documentary evidence has been prepared. Both for themselves, and for family members listed on the application.

The day of the interview: Petitioners should be well-groomed and well-dressed. They should also arrive at the location at least 20 minutes before the appointment time, ensuring any relevant family member(s) and or interpreter are also present.

During the interview: All applicants must be prepared to speak with honesty and clarity. If the officer asks a question the respondent does not understand, it is perfectly reasonable to ask him or her to repeat their question, even asking for clarification. Though maintaining eye contact may be improper in some cultures, it is important to do so while speaking with the officer. Lastly, it is important to follow instructions and remain calm, especially when asked personal, familial or financial questions.

EB-2 NIW petitioners who are prepared, have a strong case for the waiver, a proven track record or a solid proposed endeavor, are sure to be on their way to becoming a lawful permanent resident. In this way, he or she will be able to further the work in their professional field and benefit the U.S. through their service.

How To Prepare For The EB-2 NIW Interview FAQs

What documents are required for the EB-2 NIW interview?

Petitioners should bring all evidentiary documentation that supports their original NIW petition, personal identification, arrival and departure records (Form I-94), certified translations of non-English documents, original marriage certificate (if applicable), supporting documents such as CV, educational transcripts, employment authorization document (if applicable), job offer letter, Form I-485 Supplement J (if applicable), medical report, evidence of required vaccinations, two passport-sized photos, and any updates to personal information.

What can I expect during the EB-2 NIW interview?

During the EB-2 NIW interview, the officer will verify the petitioner's identity, review their current resident status, personal and professional history, proposed endeavor, job offers, changes in employment, and progress since the I-140 approval. The officer may also inquire about the petitioner's immigration history, criminal records, marital status, and intentions for working in the U.S. The petitioner will also need to provide fingerprints and pay any visa-related fees.

What can I expect during the EB-2 NIW interview?

During the EB-2 NIW interview, the officer will verify the petitioner's identity, review their current resident status, personal and professional history, proposed endeavor, job offers, changes in employment, and progress since the I-140 approval. The officer may also inquire about the petitioner's immigration history, criminal records, marital status, and intentions for working in the U.S. The petitioner will also need to provide fingerprints and pay any visa-related fees.

How should I prepare for the EB-2 NIW interview?

To prepare for the EB-2 NIW interview, ensure you receive and review the Notice of Action (Form I-797), gather all appropriate documentation, review the original EB-2 NIW Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140), arrange all required documents, secure an interpreter and/or family members if necessary, pay relevant pre-interview fees, and schedule the interview. Thorough preparation and organization of documents are essential.

What should I do on the day of the EB-2 NIW interview?

On the day of the interview, arrive at the location at least 20 minutes before the appointment time, well-groomed and dressed professionally. Ensure that any relevant family members and interpreters are present. During the interview, maintain honesty and clarity in your responses, make eye contact, and remain calm, especially when asked personal, familial, or financial questions. Following these steps will help present a strong and organized case to the interviewing officer.

Wrapping Up

Successfully completing the EB-2 NIW interview process is important for applicants who want to become permanent residents in the United States. By carefully preparing all necessary documentation, understanding the interview steps, and presenting themselves professionally, petitioners can enhance their chances of approval.

A thorough understanding of the requirements and expectations, coupled with honest and clear communication during the interview, will aid in demonstrating the petitioner's qualifications and intentions. With a strong case and adequate preparation, EB-2 NIW applicants can achieve their goal of contributing their expertise to the U.S. and obtaining lawful permanent residency.