2nd Preference Immigrants

The Second Preference (EB-2) category consists of those individuals who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business and who will substantially benefit our national economy or culture. Unlike the First Preference the Second Preference cannot self petition and so their services must be sought by a U.S. employer. In addition, unlike the EB-1 category, the EB-2 requires a labor certification issued by the Department of Labor unless there has been a National Interest Waiver of the labor certification requirement. See National Interest Waivers page.

A profession is defined as an occupation that generally requires a baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent as the minimum entry level qualification. Although not exhaustive, the Immigration and Nationality Act lists lawyers, physicians, architects, engineers, surgeons, or those attending seminaries as being among occupations considered professions. Individuals should note that in qualifying as a member of the professions that they cannot use degrees from unaccredited schools, and cannot use experience as a substitute for the actual baccalaureate degree.

Members of the professions should also be aware that if their profession requires that they possess a license to practice their occupation; USCIS may require that they be able to show the ability to practice their profession within a reasonable time. Individuals should also be aware that it is not only a desire to practice the profession, but intent to do so that qualifies them for EB-2 status on that basis.

Under the EB-2 status it is not enough to simply show that one is a member of the professions. The category requires that the person be an individual who is a member of the professions possessing an advanced degree or its equivalent. This can be any U.S. academic or professional degree above a baccalaureate degree. The advanced degree requirement can be met by the baccalaureate degree and 5 years of progressive post degree experience in the profession. Progressive experience is understood to be experience that advances the individual’s experience to more complex and responsible duties.

The second method by which an individual can qualify for EB-2 status is if they are of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business. Exceptional ability is defined as expertise beyond that normally found in the particular profession. An advanced degree is one beyond a baccalaureate level degree at a 4 year university.

You can prove exceptional ability by displaying: (1) presenting a degree or diploma from a college, university or school in the area of exceptional ability. Thus, presenting a degree in biology when you are alleging exceptional ability in international finance would not suffice. (2) You must document at least ten years of experience in the field of expertise, as will be shown in letters obtained from former and current employers. (3) You can also help document exceptional ability by supporting the case with a copy of your license to practice in the field of exceptional ability. Thus, having a nursing license while you plan to be an expert in international finance would not suffice either.