Visa EB-2 NIW for Engineers
America is a land of opportunity and a gateway to success for many. There are several paths to obtaining permanent residence in the U.S., and engineering-related professions represent one of those paths. Careers in engineering are in high demand and have high salaries worldwide, this is also true in the United States.
It is a well-known fact that the United States has suffered from a severe labor and expertise shortage across all fields of engineering. The U.S. is now making a concerted effort to address these shortages and will consider granting permanent residence to those qualified engineers that are interested in bringing their expertise into the country, especially those who have a set plan for employment or intend on self-employment within the engineering field as independent contractors or as entrepreneurs.
EB-2 NIW Visa for Engineers: An Introduction
The EB-2 NIW Visa is not like a tourist visa, once approved, the petitioner, their spouse, and their children under 21 years of age automatically become eligible for U.S. permanent residence, which is also known as the Green Card. This makes the EB-2 one of the most attractive options for foreign professionals looking to immigrate to the United States.
“EB-2” stands for “second preference employment-based”, but it does not necessarily require an offer of employment and does not get processed any faster or slower than other employment-based visa categories. The EB-2 is however based upon your previous employment, current occupation, proposed endeavor in the U.S., and professional skills in general.
What turns the EB-2 into an EB-2 NIW are the EB-2 subcategories. Applicants eligible for the EB-2 visa can be divided into three subcategories that may and should be argued simultaneously whenever possible:
1) Advanced Degree
2) Exceptional Ability
3) National Interest Waiver (NIW)
An Advanced Degree is defined, generally speaking, as a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressive experience in the field measured from the date of graduation. While the EB-2 visa is specifically aimed at professionals with Advanced Degrees, it is a perfect opportunity for those foreigners that are considered “exceptional” at what they do to apply as well. Exceptional Ability can be understood under the law as being “above average” in comparision to others in your industry. U.S. immigration law offers 7 criteria to prove “exceptional ability” and you only need to evidence 3 of the 7 criteria to qualify for this aspect of the EB-2 visa.
Often times, when you can prove one category of the EB-2, you can also prove the other two. For example, if you are an engineer then you will most likely have a bachelor’s degree, and if you have a bachelor’s degree plus 5 years of experience in your area of engineering expertise, then you can automatically argue that you have an Advanced Degree, plus 1 of the 7 criteria for Exceptional Ability, which is having a diploma in one’s field of expertise. Finally, if your degree and employment experience is in an area that has been considered of national interest to the United States, which engineering certainly is, then you can argue the National Interest Waiver category as well. All that would remain is to argue the remaining 2 of the 3 criteria needed out of the 7 offered. This is very easy for engineers to do because the field of engineering usually comes with licensure in the country of origin and membership with a professional college of engineers.
While your foreign license will not automatically be valid in the U.S. without you first taking the appropriate steps to validate and register that engineering license in the U.S. state of your choosing, your foreign license will however still satisfy immigration law, satisfying 1 of the 7 criteria needed to qualify as an engineer of exceptional ability. Once the EB-2 is approved, you may then work as an engineering consultant while you work on obtaining the appropriate licenses to register as an engineer in the state of your choosing, or you may foregoe a U.S. engineering license and work for a U.S. employer or just contract an engineer that is already licensed in the U.S. to work on your behalf as permitted by state and federal regulations.
As the field of engineering is a heavily regulated profession world wide, most if not all countries have a regulatory professional association which registers engineers and issues licenses accordingly. Registration and membership with these private or public professional engineering organizations will qualify you for yet another criteria of the 7 available.
Thus, engineers will most often automatically qualify with at least 3 of the 7 criteria offered under the law due to the nature of their profession. The seven criteria are:
Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability.
Letters from current or former employers documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation.
A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability.
Membership in a professional association(s).
Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations.
Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.
While those professions directly related to STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) are best suited for the EB-2 visa, the EB-2 NIW may also extend to other professionals with proven experience or achievement in their disciplines, including business, arts, and athletics.
EB-2 NIW Visa & Green Card for Engineering Entrepreneurs
While the United States has always been known as a world pioneer in the field of engineering, it now has an expansive infrastructure system that needs both maintenance and modernization.
The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan and Build Back Better Plans are two of the most significant investments ever made in U.S. infrastructure in the history of the U.S. since World War II. Thousands of jobs will be created, billions of dollars will be made available, and professionals such as engineers and architects will have numerous opportunities to not only enter but thrive within the American job market.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on January 21, 2022 that it was updating and issuing new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy manual guidance to clarify how certain STEM graduates and entrepreneurs can use the national interest waiver for employment-based immigrant visa classification as an advanced degree professional noncitizen or noncitizen of exceptional ability. The updated guidance now makes it easier for foreigners with needed skills, such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs, to embark on a pathway to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States via the EB-2 NIW.
Since its inception, the United States has been a land of opportunity for many immigrants from all over the world. Millions of immigrants seek to fulfill the American dream of a better job and better living conditions, especially those who are qualified professionals who may not exactly have the same access to research and development funds like those that can be found in the United States. Bureaucratically speaking, the United States has now opened its arms to welcome those engineering professionals that are willing and able to start their own engineering firm or consultancy, as these endeavors benefit the U.S. economy, generate jobs, and foster the transfer of best practices between U.S. and foreign engineering professionals.
Please note, what we present as part of your case has to be accepted by USCIS on its face, meaning, if we present a case stating that you intend to offer consulting services, but then, for example, you manage to obtain a job offer once in the U.S., that would be entirely acceptable and would not prejudice your residency nor your citizenship. You may accept that job offer without risking a revocation of your residency and it would not preclude you from applying for citizenship.
EB-2 NIW National Benefit of Engineers – Easier to Argue Now More Than Ever
The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) include some of the most suitable and successful occupations for the EB-2 NIW visa because there is a verified lack of U.S. graduates in these areas. This shortage is so critical that the U.S. Department of Defense has assessed the shortage of graduates in STEM disciplines as a matter of national defense, declaring a need to attract and retain foreign professionals across all STEM fields.
Not only does the U.S. lack STEM professionals, it also lacks diversity in these fields, with the Pew Research Center noting uneven progress in increasing gender, racial, and ethnic diversity, stating:
“Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce compared with their share of all workers, including in computing jobs, which have seen considerable growth in recent years.The representation of women varies widely across STEM occupations. Women make up a large majority of all workers in health-related jobs, but remain underrepresented in other job clusters, such as the physical sciences, computing and engineering.”
Therefore, foreign engineers are critical to the United States both in terms of national security and in terms of addressing the country’s deteriorating infrastructure and STEM’s lack of diversity. While many engineers worldwide would like to work in the U.S., numerous immigration laws have historically made the process of finding a job offer unduly burdensome. Many U.S. employers will not offer a foreign engineer a job until the individual has work authorization, but many foreign engineers can not obtain work authorization without first having a job offer or employment sponsor. The EB-2 NIW is the solution to that.
The most significant benefit of the EB-2 NIW is that it allows for the elimination of the labor certification procedure. The Labor Certificate is a time-consuming process requiring the applicant to obtain a job offer and then to be sponsored by a U.S. company and for that company to then ensure that it not only pays an average salary as dictated by the Department of Labor, but that no other similarly qualified candidate exists within the U.S. before approving that case. By qualifying for the EB-2 NIW, an applicant can avoid the cumbersome procedure of obtaining an employer-sponsor and undergoing the Labor Certification process because, as the name implies, if the government determines that your work or profession is of National Interest, it will then Waive the need for these two items.
While the EB-2 NIW has historically been a relatively difficult visa for foreign engineers to obtain in past years today, it is easier to qualify for permanent residence when applying for the EB-2 NIW visa because the law now allows for candidates to argue a wider range of benefits and within a smaller geographical zone of reference. While in past years you had to argue how your expertise would affect the entire country, you may now win on arguments that are limited to a specific region. The prospective impact of your proposed work in one region of the U.S. may be sufficient to argue national importance, generally, for purposes of the EB-2.
While there are thousands of job openings in the U.S. engineering sector waiting for the right person with the right skill set, here is a list of the most popular in-demand engineering job categories:
Data Science Engineer
Robotics and Machine Learning Engineer
Alternative Energy Engineer
EB-2 NIW Visa with G.E.B. Global
G.E.B. GLOBAL is committed to helping professionals obtain permanent residence in the United States via the EB-2 NIW. We only take on those cases we believe can be handeled effectively and efficiently. Attorney Gregory E. Boan is a dedicated and experienced expert on EB-2s who will work tirelessly to help you succeed and make your American dream come true. You can rest assured that you are hiring an attorney that is duly licensed to practice U.S. immigration law, and one that will provide you with clear and practical legal advice, connecting you with the necessary resources and implementing the most up-to-date legal mechanisms to effectively plan, prepare, and execute all phases of your immigration process.
Are you ready to begin your immigration journey? G.E.B. Global is ready to help!
If you believe you may qualify for the EB-2 NIW, we invite you to send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us using the form below and you will receive a free preliminary analysis of your eligibility.
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