EB-2 NIW Visa Application Guide: How to Get Exceptional Ability NIW Green Card

This guide provides comprehensive information on the EB-2 NIW visa to obtain lawful permanent residency (LPR) in the United States. It offers an alternative to the traditional employment-based green card process, eliminating the need for employer sponsorship and labor certification.

Whether you are a foreign individual with exceptional ability or someone seeking to contribute significantly to the U.S. through your work, this guide focuses on the specifics of the NIW, offering clear explanations and valuable insights. It explains the differences between various EB-2 visa categories and highlights the advantages of the NIW option.

Understanding the EB-2 NIW Visa: Your Guide to Green Card Options

Navigating the path to permanent residency in the United States can be complex, especially regarding employment-based options. This guide focuses on the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) visa, a unique category within the broader EB-2 visa system.

What is the EB-2 NIW Visa?

The EB-2 NIW allows individuals with exceptional ability or advanced degrees to obtain a Green Card (lawful permanent residency) without employer sponsorship or a labor certification. This is in contrast to other EB-2 categories, which typically require both. Let’s make things even more explicit:

  • The EB2 visa doesn’t require an employer sponsorship or labor certification: Applicants can self-petition for the NIW, making it ideal for all those seeking an independent path to residency.
  • EB2 NIW visa has a national interest requirement: Applicants must demonstrate that their work or proposed endeavor will be of substantial merit and national importance to the United States.

Understanding the EB-2 Visa Landscape

The EB-2 category falls under the second preference within the employment-based Green Card system. It encompasses three subcategories:

  • EB-2 A: Advanced Degree: Requires a master’s degree or equivalent in a field related to the offered job.
  • EB-2 B: Exceptional Ability: Requires evidence of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
  • EB-2 C: National Interest Waiver (NIW): Allows individuals with exceptional ability or advanced degrees to waive the labor certification requirement if they prove their work is in America’s national interest.

IMPORTANT! Understand the difference between EB-2 PERM vs. EB-2 NIW. The EB-2 PERM stands for “Permanent Labor Certification.” It’s a lengthy process requiring an employer to demonstrate that hiring a foreign worker won’t adversely affect U.S. worker availability and wages. It applies to EB-2 A and B subcategories. By contrast, EB-2 NIW, by waiving the labor certification, eliminates the PERM process and its associated complexities.

How Does USCIS Define National Interest in the Context of the National Interest Waiver Green Card?

To qualify for an EB-2 National Interest Waiver NIW as an employment-based Green Card applicant, you must demonstrate that your future work or business ventures will significantly benefit the United States. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Showcase the Endeavor's National Significance

Demonstrate that your proposed endeavor has considerable merit, value, and relevance to the nation’s needs and interests. This could involve addressing a critical national challenge, promoting innovation in a vital industry, or contributing to the country’s overall well-being.

While not exhaustive, some potential areas of national interest include:

  • Education, healthcare, and STEM contribute directly to the nation’s workforce development, public health, and technological advancement.
  • Infrastructure, supply chain, and logistics are vital economic areas contributing to national well-being.
  • Economic growth and development: Businesses that create jobs, bolster trade, and promote innovation contribute significantly to the national interest.
  • Arts, music, culture: Individuals that can significantly contribute to America’s artistic and cultural enrichment.

2. Highlight Your Position as an Essential Contributor

Effectively communicate your expertise, experience, and qualifications that make you uniquely positioned to drive forward the proposed endeavor. This involves showcasing your ability to lead, innovate, and successfully implement your plans.

3. Persuasively Advocate for a National Advantage Waiver Green Card

Present a compelling case that waiving the job offer and labor certification requirements would offer a clear and significant advantage to the United States. Emphasize how your work directly aligns with the nation’s priorities and surpasses what readily available U.S. workers can offer.

IMPORTANT! The key to an EB2 NIW is demonstrating your proposed endeavor’s substantial merit and national importance and your unique ability to make a difference. You can strengthen your case for an EB-2 NIW by compellingly showcasing these aspects.

Understanding the EB2 NIW Requirements and Eligibility Criteria

To successfully obtain an EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW), you must satisfy two requirements: those generally applicable to the EB-2 category and those specific to the NIW waiver. Let’s explore each in detail:

Who Qualifies for an EB-2 NIW Visa?

To qualify for an EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW), a foreign national must meet these criteria:

  • Eligible for an EB-2 visa: You have an advanced degree (Master’s or higher) or equivalent or demonstrate exceptional ability in your field.
  • Pass the Dhanasar Matter three-prong test: This test requires that you, the foreign national, demonstrate the following: 
    • Your planned work holds substantial merit and has national significance to the United States.
    • You have the necessary skills, experience, and resources to advance your proposed endeavor successfully.
    • The approval of your visa would substantially benefit the overall national interests of the United States.

The General EB-2 Requirements

Your advanced degree or exceptional ability represents the foundation of your EB-2 eligibility. Here’s how to demonstrate it: 

  • Advanced degree: You need a U.S. Master’s degree or equivalent in a professional arena relevant to your work. For foreign degrees, confirming their equivalency to U.S. standards is essential. Recognized credential evaluation services like World Education Services or Education Credential Evaluators can expertly assess and document this equivalency.
  • Exceptional ability: If you don’t have an advanced degree, you can still qualify for an EB-2 NIW by demonstrating exceptional ability. This involves proving expertise significantly exceeding what’s typically encountered in your field, be it science, arts, or business.

The National Interest Waiver Specific Requirements

Beyond the base EB-2 criteria, the NIW has unique requirements centered on national interest. Your proposed endeavor (business, research, art, etc.) must hold significant value and relevance to U.S. interests. Areas like healthcare, education, technology, or entrepreneurship are often strong contenders. The economic benefit isn’t mandatory, and the impact can be focused on social good or a specific region.

Most importantly, you need to argue that the benefits to the U.S. of granting the NIW outweigh the standard job offer and labor certification process (PERM). This is where emphasizing the unique benefits your endeavor brings to the country is vital.

1. Eligibility Criteria for EB-2 NIW Applicants in STEM Fields

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) pathway offers a significant advantage for individuals possessing advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM). USCIS recognizes the critical importance of STEM fields for driving innovation, maintaining U.S. competitiveness, and bolstering national security. Let’s dive into the specific requirements and how to demonstrate your eligibility best.

Critical Requirements for STEM NIW Applicants

The cornerstone of your application is a Master’s or Ph.D. degree in a relevant STEM field. Notably, a Ph.D. holds particular weight in the eyes of USCIS and significantly strengthens your chances of approval.

While applicable to all NIW applicants, it’s often easier for STEM endeavors to fulfill the exceptional merit and national interest EB2 NIW visa requirements. Cutting-edge research, technological innovation, and industry-disrupting projects generally have significant value (substantial merit) and broad implications for the progress of the U.S. within the STEM landscape (national importance).

Your intended work or research must hold clear and substantial benefits to the United States on a national level. It could involve advancements in critical or emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, quantum computing), contributions to pivotal areas of U.S. competitiveness (e.g., energy, biotechnology), or projects that bolster national security interests.

IMPORTANT! Classroom teaching activities in STEM subjects, although valuable for education, might not demonstrate the impact that qualifies as nationally beneficial.

Remember that your advanced STEM degree is vital but not the sole factor. USCIS evaluates your entire background – your education, experience, publications, and recognition within your field – to determine if you have the skills and track record necessary to execute your proposed endeavor successfully.

IMPORTANT! Your Ph.D. is highly advantageous here, mainly if it is directly relevant to critical or emerging technologies. Consider supplementing your academic credentials with additional evidence like recommendation letters, patents, or a track record of impactful research.

While there’s no single formula for success, USCIS views the following combination of factors as especially strong, so check below to see if you are the ideal STEM NIW candidate:

  • A Ph.D. in a STEM field.
  • A proposed endeavor focused on a critical, emerging technology or another STEM area vital to U.S. competitiveness or security.
  • A well-articulated plan and compelling evidence demonstrating your unique ability to drive that endeavor forward.

Remember that your advanced STEM degree is vital but not the sole factor. USCIS evaluates your entire background – your education, experience, publications, and recognition within your field – to determine if you have the skills and track record necessary to execute your proposed endeavor successfully.

2. Eligibility Criteria for EB-2 NIW Entrepreneurs Seeking Green Cards

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver offers a unique opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs aiming to obtain green cards in the United States. However, specific requirements and criteria must be met to qualify for this option. These criteria are broken down, focusing on the entrepreneur’s role and the proposed endeavor.

  • Ownership and active involvement: You must have or plan to have an ownership interest in a U.S.-based entity, typically by being its founder, co-founder, or holding a similar position. This ownership demonstrates your commitment to the venture.
  • A central role in operations: You must be active and central in the entity’s day-to-day operations. Evidence like officer positions, board membership, or other vital roles within the company strengthens your case. This demonstrates your crucial involvement in driving the endeavor forward.

Remember that your proposed endeavor should involve creating innovative products, solving significant challenges, or contributing to key national priorities like economic growth. Simply showing profitability is often not enough. You need to prove positive financial performance, job creation in the U.S., and how the overall growth of your business aligns with the U.S.A.’s national goals.

While not core eligibility requirements, the following elements can further support your application:

  • Secured investments from outside entities, like angel investors or venture capital firms, can validate the potential of your venture.
  • Being accepted into a reputable incubator or accelerator program demonstrates industry recognition of your potential and strengthens your application.
  • Receiving awards or grants from relevant government entities or other organizations provides independent validation of the value of your endeavor.
  • Holding relevant patents or other intellectual property can showcase your past success and potential for future achievements.
  • Media recognition and positive press coverage can solidify your credibility and the potential impact of your venture.

To make a compelling case for a national interest waiver, the ideal EB-2 NIW entrepreneurship visa candidate should:

    • Prove a successful track record of leading and growing previous startup ventures.
    • Propose a business idea with significant potential for positive national impact beyond generating profits. (creating groundbreaking technology, solving a major societal challenge, contributing to crucial U.S. national priorities).
    • Hold a vital ownership and leadership position in the U.S. entity, actively driving the proposed endeavor forward with the skills and experience necessary for success.

Consulting seasoned immigration specialists is highly recommended for thorough assistance in navigating the intricacies of the entrepreneurship EB-2 NIW application process. They can help you gather the necessary evidence and build a strong case demonstrating your eligibility and entrepreneurial endeavor’s potential.

3. Eligibility Criteria for Physician EB-2 National Interest Waiver

The EB-2 NIW is an excellent chance for foreign-born physicians to obtain a U.S. green card by demonstrating their work in the United States is in the national interest. To qualify for a physician NIW, you must meet the following EB2 visa requirements:

  • Full-time clinical practice: You must agree to work full-time in a clinical practice setting, directly providing medical care to patients. This requirement ensures your services have a tangible impact on the community.
  • You are a licensed primary care physician: You must be a licensed physician specializing in the following primary care fields: general practitioner, family practice, general internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and psychiatry.
  • You are a specialty physician: If you are a specialist in a field other than those listed above, you must agree to practice in a Physician Scarcity Area (PSA) designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). PSAs are geographic areas experiencing a critical shortage of specific healthcare professionals.
  • Practice in an underserved area service: To qualify for the Physician National Interest Waiver (NIW), you must commit to serving in a designated area facing a shortage of healthcare professionals. It includes Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), geographic regions lacking sufficient primary care providers, and Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas (MHPSAs), a specific type of HPSA intended solely for psychiatrists. Additionally, service opportunities exist in Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs), communities with limited access to primary care due to location, demographics, or economic limitations. Finally, you can fulfill the service requirement by working at a Veterans Affairs (VA) facility, a medical center, or a clinic serving the unique healthcare needs of veterans under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • You must show attestation from a U.S. government agency: You must obtain a written statement (known as an attestation) from a federal agency or a state department of health that verifies your qualifications as a licensed physician in the United States and confirms that your work in a designated underserved area is in the public interest and serves a significant national need.

While not an official physician NIW eligibility requirement, demonstrating a solid commitment to serving the specific needs of the chosen underserved area can strengthen your application. It could involve prior experience working in similar settings, fluency in languages prevalent in the community, or involvement in local healthcare initiatives.

In conclusion, the portrait of the ideal physician candidate for an EB2 NIW visa looks like this:

  • Willingness to work full-time in clinical practice for five years.
  • Primary care or specialty in a Physician Scarcity Area.
  • Work in a designated underserved area (HPSA, MHPSA, MUA, VA).
  • Meet licensing and English proficiency requirements.

Meeting these requirements allows you to pursue the EB-2 NIW route and potentially obtain a green card based on your valuable contributions to the U.S. healthcare system in underserved areas. However, for a smooth NIW application, you should consult with an immigration service provider or law firm.

4. EB2 NIW Eligibility Criteria for Artists/Musicians

If you are a foreign artist or musician, you can get a green card in the United States based on your EB-2 NIW application. However, similar to EB-2 NIW for entrepreneurs or STEM specialists, specific requirements and eligibility criteria must be met.

Here’s a breakdown of these criteria, focusing on your work and its impact:

Substantial Intrinsic Merit and National Benefit

Your artwork or musical pieces must demonstrate exceptional quality and artistic merit, recognized by established figures and institutions within your field. This can be evidenced through awards, prestigious exhibitions, publications, or critical acclaim from recognized critics and organizations.

Moreover, under the EB2 NIW eligibility criteria for artists and musicians, you must prove your work significantly benefits the United States. It should promote cultural exchange, foster creativity and innovation, or enrich the nation’s artistic landscape. Evidence supporting this could include contributions to educational institutions, community programs, or collaborative projects benefiting the American public.

National Scope

If you want to become an EB-2 NIW beneficiary, your work and achievements should not be limited to a local community or specific region within the United States. It should demonstrate national recognition and impact, reaching a broader audience and contributing to the national artistic sphere. This can be demonstrated through national exhibitions, performances at prestigious venues, widespread media coverage, or recognition from national organizations in your field.

Serving the National Interest to a Substantially Greater Degree

Artists applying for EB2 NIW visas must showcase how their work and talents serve the national interest more than artists of similar qualifications. It could involve pioneering new artistic techniques, contributing to a specific national artistic movement, or addressing significant societal issues through their art. Evidence supporting this could be critical acclaim highlighting your work’s unique impact, originality, or recognition from national figures endorsing your contribution to the American art scene.

The ideal artist/musician candidate for an EB2 NIW visa should demonstrate the following:

  • They are exceptional, nationally recognized artists with award-winning work contributing significantly to the U.S. If you show grants from national arts organizations, government agencies, or prestigious institutions, it will strengthen your case.
  • They delivered nationally impactful work exhibited/performed at prestigious venues and covered by national media. You can reinforce your national recognition and impact by proving that you collaborated with renowned artists, institutions, or national educational/artistic/cultural programs.
  • They made unique contributions exceeding other artists through pioneering techniques or addressing societal issues.

How to Apply for an EB2 NIW Visa: A Step-by-step Guide

Obtaining an EB-2 NIW visa necessitates navigating a specific process. Here’s a simplified explanation of the key steps involved:

Step 1: File Form I-140

This initial form serves as your formal application and establishes your eligibility for the EB-2 NIW route. It details your qualifications, educational background, work experience, and relevant achievements.

Step 2: Gather and Submit Supporting Evidence

This crucial stage involves amassing comprehensive documentation demonstrating your exceptional ability or advanced degree (depending on your qualification route) and substantiating the national significance of your proposed work or endeavor. This evidence could include:

  • Letters of recommendation from established figures in your field
  • A detailed professional plan outlining your goals and potential impact
  • Documentation of published research, patents, or other relevant creative outputs
  • Awards and recognition received for your contributions
  • Diplomas and transcripts from your educational institutions
  • Membership certificates in relevant professional associations

Step 3: Await Adjudication by USCIS

Once you submit your complete application package, USCIS meticulously evaluates your petition. This stage focuses on determining whether granting the waiver aligns with the national interests of the United States. The decision hinges on the merit of your proposed endeavor, your qualifications to carry it out, and the anticipated benefit to the nation.

Step 4: Adjustment of Status or Visa Processing

Upon receiving I-140 approval, you can proceed to the final stage of obtaining your Green Card. This involves verifying Green Card availability through the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may file for Adjustment of Status if you reside in the U.S. or pursue visa processing through a U.S. consulate abroad.

How Long Does the EB2 NIW Visa Application Process Take?

The time it takes to compile the necessary paperwork for an EB-2 NIW application varies significantly depending on the complexity of your case and the type of qualification you’re seeking. Here’s a general idea:

  • “Exceptional Ability” applicants: The evidence-gathering process can be more time-consuming. Tracking down publications, awards, letters of recommendation, and other supporting documentation could take several months.
  • “Advanced Degree” applicants: If you possess an advanced degree (Master’s or above, or its equivalent), gathering paperwork is typically faster. Obtaining diplomas, transcripts, and potentially professional licenses can often be completed in weeks.

These time estimates are just for the initial paperwork stage. The EB-2 NIW process can take months or years, including USCIS adjudication and visa processing.

The EB-2 NIW Application Evidence and Required Documents

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver exempts individuals with exceptional abilities from the standard job offer and labor certification process. You must build a compelling case demonstrating your eligibility to obtain this waiver. This section of our EB2 NIW guide delves deeper into the necessary USCIS evidence and documents, helping you gather the materials that effectively support your application.

Guiding Principles for Your EB2 NIW Case

USCIS lacks a mandatory list of documents but provides guiding principles for strong evidence presentation:

  • Expertise: Emphasize your education, skills, and training.
  • Success record: Highlight achievements, recognition, and contributions to your field.
  • Plan: Provide a detailed plan outlining your goals, steps, and anticipated impact.
  • Progress: Demonstrate concrete steps already taken towards achieving your goals.
  • Stakeholder interest: Showcase support from potential investors, collaborators, or those who stand to benefit from your work.

The essential EB2 NIW documentation usually includes (without being limited to) the following evidence:

Document Type

Pertinent data

Media mentions

Academic research

Project plan

Expert letters

Proof of contributions

Resume or CV

Degrees and transcripts


Statistics, reports, or research findings demonstrate your work's significance and its positive impact on the national interest.

News articles, features, or online publications highlight your accomplishments and your work's broader value.

Publications in reputable journals, conference papers, or authored research studies solidifying your expertise.

A comprehensive outline of your endeavor detailing goals, strategies, timelines, and anticipated outcomes.

Independent letters of recommendation (not from direct collaborators) from established experts in your field attest to your exceptional ability, the value of your work to the U.S., and your potential to succeed.

Awards, patents, citations, or other official recognition of your achievements in your field.

A detailed overview of your education, professional experience, skills, and other relevant qualifications.

Proof of your educational background, particularly those supporting your claimed exceptional ability.

What Documents You Need to Prove Advanced Degree and Exceptional Ability

To qualify for an EB-2 NIW under the advanced degree OR the exceptional ability category, you must prove your expertise surpasses the ordinary. This EB2 guide section focuses on the documentation required to prove either pathway and successfully navigate the application process.

Individuals holding an advanced degree in their field can significantly simplify the process of demonstrating exceptional ability. On the other hand, applicants with relevant bachelor’s degrees can still qualify, even though the advanced degree carries more weight in your EB2 NIW application.

Here is the documentation typically required to demonstrate an EB-2 NIW advanced degree.


Official diploma and transcripts

Employer Letters

Applies to

Advanced degree holders

Bachelor's degree holders


Verified documentation from your accredited academic institution showcasing completion of a master's degree, doctorate (Ph.D.), or equivalent in your area of expertise. Ensure you provide original or certified copies of your documents issued directly by the institution.

Provide at least three letters from employers documenting at least five years of cumulative, progressive work experience directly tied to your field of study and relevant to your NIW petition. These letters should be original, signed on company letterhead, and detail your contributions, responsibilities, and any advancements within your role over the five years.

Here is the documentation you need for your EB-2 NIW application to demonstrate exceptional ability (provide three or more):

Document Type

Academic record

Proof of payment

Professional license/certification

Professional association membership

Employer letters

Official recognition

Other forms of evidence


Diplomas, transcripts, certificates, or relevant coursework showcasing training in your field.

Records of compensation for services rendered, consulting fees, or income from your expertise.

Required licenses or certifications needed to practice within your field.

Membership in recognized professional organizations relevant to your expertise.

Letters documenting at least ten years of full-time experience demonstrating significant contributions and progressive advancement within your field.

Awards, honors, citations, or other formal acknowledgment from government agencies, peers, or relevant organizations.

Any additional documentation that convincingly bolsters your exceptional ability claim.

Additional Evidence Requested by USCIS from Entrepreneurs Seeking EB2 NIW Visas

While entrepreneurs aiming for the EB-2 NIW visa have specific unique considerations, the USCIS may, in some cases, request additional evidence to evaluate an applicant’s eligibility for this specific visa category further. This generally occurs when the initial documentation is deemed insufficient or requires further clarification. 

Here is what USCIS might request in terms of entrepreneurship NIW visa paperwork:

Document Type

Startup capital

Letters of intent

Proof of contracts


Bank statements, investment documents, or other financial resources dedicated to your new venture.

Expressions of interest from potential investors, partners, or clients demonstrate your business idea's viability.

Agreements with suppliers, service providers, or collaborators critical to your business's operation.

IMPORTANT! All mandatory and extra documents required by USCIS for your EB2 NIW visa application must be translated into English by a certified translator if they were initially issued in another language.

At this stage in your NIW case preparation, consulting with an immigration attorney is crucial. Get personalized guidance to ensure your application package effectively demonstrates your eligibility for an EB-2 NIW based on your chosen approach.

Form I-140: Your Gateway to the EB2 NIW Process

The I-140 Petition for Alien Worker is the primary document you must file with USCIS to request an EB-2 NIW. It serves as the official petition establishing your eligibility for permanent residency under this specific category.

I-140 Petition Filing Requirements and Procedures

  • Eligibility: Demonstrate that you meet all eligibility NIW criteria in the guide.
  • Paperwork: See this I-140 documentation checklist required to submit the petition correctly.
  • Filing options: You can self-petition without an employer sponsor due to the exemption from the labor certification requirement. Ensure accurate and complete information on your application to prevent delays or potential rejection.
  • Filing location: Form I-140 needs to be submitted directly to USCIS.
  • Filing fees: The filing fee for Form I-140 is $715 with additional fees, if applicable. You can check the USCIS website for any future fee updates. The payment options are money order, cashier’s check, personal check, or credit card using Form G-1450. While optional, consider filing for premium processing alongside Form I-140 to expedite the adjudication process for an additional fee.
  • Processing time: Processing times for Form I-140 can vary significantly, ranging from 10 to 27 months, depending on various factors.

IMPORTANT! This EB2 NIW guide only provides a general overview, and you should always consult with an immigration attorney for legal advice and specific guidance tailored to your circumstances!

The EB-2 NIW Processing Times and Timeline: What to Expect

The EB-2 NIW application process involves several stages with varying processing times. Understanding these timelines can help you manage expectations and plan accordingly.

Form I-140: Petition for Alien Worker

This initial stage involves submitting Form I-140 to USCIS and demonstrating your eligibility for the NIW category. Processing times can range significantly, between 10 and 27 months (perhaps 20 months if you are lucky and applied under the extraordinary ability criteria at the USCIS Texas Service Center).

This variance depends on multiple factors, including the workload at USCIS and the filing location. You can check the USCIS processing times tool for the latest estimates.

Visa Bulletin and Green Card Application

Once your Form I-140 receives approval, you must check the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. This bulletin identifies whether a green card visa is available for your specific category and nationality.

EB2 NIW visa processing times depend on your location in relation to your I-485 petition.

Within the United States

You can submit Form I-485 to initiate the green card application process if a visa is available. Sometimes, processing times for Form I-485 can be lengthy, exceeding 2 years, and varying depending on your location, USCIS workload, or USCIS service center.

Outside the United States (Consular Processing)

The wait time is generally shorter for individuals applying for the visa from abroad, but you can expect a waiting time of 8 to 14 months.

Can You Speed Up the EB2 NIW Processing Times?

If a green card visa is immediately available when you file Form I-140, you can consider submitting it alongside your green card application (Form I-485) to expedite the process.

However, receiving a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS may extend your processing time. This occurs if your initial evidence package requires additional clarification or documentation. In conclusion, the NIW timeframe can be extended if additional documentation is required or your case encounters specific complexities.

EB2 NIW Processing Times in the Context of Premium Processing

Premium processing significantly expedites the adjudication of Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) for those in the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) or E13 (multinational executive and manager) categories to 45 days. You must submit Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and pay the fee to use this service.

If USCIS does not complete the adjudication process within 45 calendar days, they will refund the premium processing fee. This 45-day period starts with receiving a properly completed Form I-907 (including required signatures and correct fees).

Consider that if USCIS issues an RFE or a Notice of Intent to Deny, the 45-day clock pauses until USCIS receives a complete response; upon receipt, a new 45-day period begins.

How Much Does the EB-2 NIW Visa Cost?

Obtaining an EB-2 NIW visa requires several costs, including government filing fees, biometrics, medical examinations, and potential translation costs. Understanding these expenses can help you budget efficiently and prepare financially for the NIW application process.

The USCIS charges specific fees for various forms associated with the NIW application. The following table illustrates the current 2024 fees:


Form I-140

Form I-485 Application

Form DS-260 (if applicable)


Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

Petition for Permanent Resident or Adjust Status (if applicable)

Online Immigrant Visa Application





Beyond the direct filing fees, several additional costs require consideration:

EB-2 NIW Associated Costs

Medical examination

Biometrics Fee (if applicable)

Translation services (if applicable)

Legal representation (optional)


Mandatory for all green card applicants.

Covers the collection of fingerprints and photographs for security purposes.

Required for documents not in English.

Highly recommended for personalized guidance.


$200 - $400


$50 - $500 per document

Varies based on experience and location

IMPORTANT! The credential evaluation for foreign degrees may incur fees ranging from $200 to $500. Moreover, the fee for requesting premium processing of Form I-140 for EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant visa classifications is currently $2,805. This additional fee, paid alongside the standard filing fee, guarantees faster USCIS adjudication of your I-140 petition.

As with all immigration petitions, the fees are subject to change, so it’s crucial to check the USCIS website for the latest updates before submitting your application. In conclusion, the total cost of your EB-2 NIW application can vary significantly based on individual circumstances, chosen resources, and potential legal representation.

Can USCIS Deny My EB2 NIW Visa Application?

Yes, USCIS can deny your EB-2 NIW visa application. There are several reasons why this might happen, including the following:

  • Failing to meet NIW requirements: Not demonstrating exceptional ability, possessing an advanced degree, or showing the national importance of your work can lead to denial.
  • Insufficient evidence: Incomplete or unconvincing documentation proving your qualifications or the national significance of your endeavor can result in a denial.
  • Other factors: USCIS may deny an application based on criminal history, security concerns, or other eligibility issues.

What to Do If USCIS Denies Your EB2 NIW Petition

If your EB-2 NIW application is denied, you have two main options:

1. Appeal the Decision

This involves formally challenging the decision, typically done when you believe the denial was based on an error or lack of complete information. Appealing can be time-consuming and complex, with success rates varying wildly. Consulting a skilled immigration counselor is highly recommended for this route.

2. NIW Visa Reapplication

The second option is to reapply for the EB2 NIW visa, addressing the reasons for the initial denial. This requires careful analysis of the USCIS decision and potentially gathering additional supporting evidence to strengthen your case. It’s essential to seek guidance from immigration professionals to strategize an effective reapplication.

Start Your EB-2 NIW Visa Petition Submission Today!

As you have seen from this guide, it can take years to lawfully reside in the United States and achieve fantastic work there. In other words, you need to start preparing your EB2 NIW visa application package as soon as possible to get a chance to get the Green Card you desire. So get expert help from the immigration and legal professionals at ImmigrationDirect. We can assist you in your endeavors and help you apply successfully!

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