There are three primary categories for an employment based green card: The first preference is for an EB-1, for individuals with extraordinary ability, those who are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager.[1] The second preference EB-2 is for individuals with an advanced degree or who have an exceptional ability.[2] The third preference is for an EB-3, for skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.[3]

This article will discuss in more detail about the EB-2 visa category and its subcategories.

EB-2 Visa Category

The Employment-Based Immigration, Second Preference EB-2 is a viable option for foreign workers seeking permanent residency in the U.S. who have qualifying advanced degrees (or equivalent) and work experience in their field of expertise.[4] It is also available to those who have exceptional ability in their field.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allots 40,000 green cards annually to this employment-based immigration category. However, the majority being filed are for the EB-3 category.

Subcategories for EB-2 Visa

  1. EB-2(A) Advanced Degree or Equivalent: This category is available for individuals with a U.S. advanced degree (or foreign equivalent) such as a master’s degree, Ph. D, or a law or medical degree. It is also available to those with a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or a foreign equivalent) and five years of “progressive” post-bachelor’s degree work experience in the specialty studied. A job offer from a U.S. company will also be required.
  2. EB-2(B) Exceptional Ability: This is available to applicants who can show exceptional ability in the arts, business, science or athletics. The USCIS defines exceptional ability as “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” A job offer from a U.S. company will be needed. In order to qualify for this category, the individual must meet three of the following criteria:
    1. Official academical record showing proof of learning in related area of exceptional ability;
    2. Letters documenting 10 or more years of work experience in related field;
    3. A license or certification to practice profession or occupation;
    4. Proof of salary;
    5. Documentation of membership in professional associations;
    6. Evidence of recognition of your contribution to your industry by peers, government entities or organizations;
    7. Or additional comparable proof of your qualifications.
  3. EB-2(C) National Interest Waiver: Foreign national applicants can qualify for a national interest waiver, which would waive the Labor Certification, if they can prove they their activities will inherently benefit the national interest of the U.S. There is no definition of which occupations may qualify for a national interest waiver. However, it is usually fit for those who have exceptional ability and whose employment would benefit the U.S.

Green Card Holder Dependents

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to reside in the U.S. on E-21 and E22 immigrant status. During the process of applying for permanent resident status (green card holder), your spouse is eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Labor Certification Requirement (PERM)

Employers in the U.S. who offer a position to E-B2 applicants will need to first file a PERM labor certification.[5] In this process, the employer is required to advertise the open position to the American workforce before hiring a foreign worker. If U.S. workers are unwilling or unqualified to fill the position, then the employer can hire a foreign worker.

The Department of Labor manages PERM and issues permits to the employers. The EB category is stated in the contents submitted in the PERM Labor Certification process. The employer must submit the permit, allowing them to work in the U.S.


Although some occupations such as for a doctor, lawyer or economist can be easily matched and identified, that is not often the case. Many job offers are not as easily matched within this category.