The state of Florida employs about 9.02 million people. While many of those employees are U.S. citizens, some of them are foreign workers. Individuals from all over the world come to Florida for the many employment opportunities.
In order for you to legally enter the U.S. and work, you need a visa. But there are several types of visas available, and it’s important to choose the right type. If you meet certain criteria, you could be eligible for an EB-2 visa. The Florida Immigration Law Counsel can help you choose the right visa and navigate you through the process.
What are EB-2 Visas?
An EB visa is an employment-based visa that offers foreign workers permanent residency. EB-2 refers to the second preference category for those visas.
Individuals who receive EB-2 visas must have one of three criteria. The need advanced degrees, or some equivalent of an advanced degree. Or, they need to have “exceptional ability” in areas of business, arts, or science and wanted by an American employer. Finally, there are those who are an asset to the country. The immigration office must believe the applicant will help the U.S. economy, culture, education system, or welfare. This type of applicant falls under the National Interest Waiver.
All applicants except for those with a National Interest Waiver need a labor certification as well as a job offer. Their employer needs to file an I-140 on the employee’s behalf.
More Detailed Eligibility Requirements
To receive a visa, the applicant needs to meet one of the strict eligibility requirements. If an individual is meeting the degree requirement, it’s not enough for them just to have an advanced degree. In addition to holding the degree, the applicant also needs to have a degree for a profession. For instance, architects, lawyers, and teachers are all qualified professions. If they only have a Bachelor’s degree for the profession, they may be able to substitute experience for it.
For the exceptional ability requirement, there must be some proof of that ability. The applicant needs to be able to show that they have more expertise than most individuals in the field than the average employee.
In some situations, their expertise could be enough to convince the immigration officials to waive the labor certification. They can receive a National Interest Waiver, which waives the need for a job offer and labor certification. This is common for doctors who will work in an area with a shortage of healthcare professionals.
For applicants with an advanced degree or exceptional skill, the Labor Certification needs to be done properly. The employer must advertise the position for a certain amount of time. During the advertisement period, there cannot be any qualified U.S. applicants for the position. If there are, the employer cannot hire the worker and the worker will not be granted an EB visa.
It’s worth noting that there are caps on EB-2 visas. Therefore, you could meet all the requirements and not given a visa. In 2012, the limit for employment-based visas was 144,951. Each country can only be issued 7% of all employment-based visas. Furthermore, only 28.6% of the total employment-based visas are EB-2s.
Paying the Fees
There are costs associated with this visa. Applicants must pay a processing fee, which costs over $400. The form I-140 costs $700.The Application Process
If an applicant does not have a National Interest Waiver, they need the Labor Certification before they can move forward with their application. Once their employer does the work and receives the certification, the employer files an I-140. The employer must show that they can pay the employee the wage they listed in the Labor Certification.
The Process for Those with National Interest Waivers
While an applicant with a National Interest Waiver doesn’t need a Labor Certification or job offer, they do need to prove their merit. This is accomplished in the I-140 application.
Applicants in this category must have an endeavor that is of national importance and value. Although the project can be on a local scale, it needs to have a broader impact. For instance, a local endeavor could have a significant economic.
Additionally, that endeavor needs to be feasible. The government wants to know that the applicant has the ability to be successful.
Lastly, waiving the job offer and Labor Certification must benefit the U.S. For example, there needs to be evidence that the foreign national cannot obtain a job or the employer cannot obtain a labor certification.
After the Form is Approved
After the I-140 is processed and approved, all applicants for EB-2s go through the same process. The next step is to wait for your priority date. However, this is often the longest step in the attempt for this visa.
Because of the cap on EB-2s, there is a long waiting list. In fact, some people have waited over a decade for their date. Your wait time depends on how many people from your country have applied for the visa. Some countries have more requests for visas than other countries.
When your priority date is current, you can submit an I-485, which is for permanent lawful residence. Once the government approves your I-485, you receive your green card. You are classified as a permanent legal resident and have the same rights as other green cardholders.
How Long Does it Take?
The length of the entire process depends on many factors. The Labor Certification can take an average of six to nine months. However, complications can slow down the process.
The I-140 approval can take about six months for processing. Once again, this time varies. Some service centers are busier than others, which can extend your waiting period. To speed up this part, you can pay a premium processing fee. Your priority date could be immediate, or it could take years.
What Can a Florida Immigration Lawyer Do?
Employers and employees alike often have many questions about EB-2 visas and the application steps. Before you begin, you should get answers to those questions. This can let you know what to expect and prevent you from making mistakes.
You can simplify the process by working with an attorney. Let the Florida Immigration Law Counsel handle your immigration needs. Contact us today and learn more.