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Understanding the Differences between EB-2 NIW and EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Applications

by | May 24, 2024 | Firm News

If you’re considering an immigrant visa to the United States, you’ve likely encountered the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) and the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability categories. Both pathways cater to highly skilled individuals but differ significantly in requirements and processes. Here, we’ll explore these differences and help you understand which might fit you better.

EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW)

The EB-2 NIW is designed for individuals with an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their field. This category allows applicants to bypass the labor certification process if they can demonstrate that their work will benefit the United States on a national level. The key requirements include:

  1. Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability: Applicants must possess either an advanced degree (master’s or higher) or demonstrate exceptional ability in their field.
  2. National Interest: Applicants must prove that their work has substantial intrinsic merit and national importance.
  3. Waiver of Job Offer Requirement: Applicants must show that waiving the job offer requirement would benefit the United States.

The guiding precedent for EB-2 NIW cases is the Matter of Dhanasar, which provides a framework for USCIS to grant these petitions. Notably, in Dhanasar, the petition was granted, offering a clear pathway for approval.

EB-1 Extraordinary Ability

The EB-1 Extraordinary Ability category is for individuals who have risen to the very top of their field. This category is more stringent and requires applicants to meet at least three out of ten specific criteria, which include:

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  2. Membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement
  3. Published material about the individual in professional or major trade publications
  4. Participation, either individually or on a panel, as a judge of the work of others
  5. Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance
  6. Authorship of scholarly articles in the field
  7. Artistic exhibitions or showcases
  8. Performance in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation
  9. High salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  10. Commercial successes in the performing arts