Client Q&A: The EB-2 Visa – Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability

We assisted our Chilean client working in the field of astronomy with obtaining an EB-2 Visa. Learn about the process from his perspective.

1. Why did you want to move to America?

This idea to execute a major life change started early in my career when I came to the USA under a Work and Travel program when finishing my studies for electronic engineering. There I learned the American culture embraces people from overseas without any distinction (at least I felt it that way). The society in the U.S. has such a strong basis that allows people to care for themselves and to cooperate with their peers, also, it encourages us to bring the best of ourselves. That simple aspect is something I don’t see quite often in my home country. In terms of career opportunities, America is home for cutting-edge research and development, things that are encouraged in college but later really hard to follow when doing normal jobs in my home country. On the other hand, the main activities in the USA are focused on adding value by creating new products and ideas and not just maintain things working without creating any new value at all. In conclusion, I will be able to fully develop my career in a country where I feel welcomed, cherished, and inspired while enhancing my family’s possibilities.

2. What were the reasons for choosing the EB-2 visa?

The employment-based visa on the second category is the best suited to my credentials since it is focused on bringing to the U.S. highly skilled professional holding advanced degrees (or a combination of degree plus experience). I saw this visa class years ago when I ended college and realize that I would need to demonstrate great qualifications if I would like to be considered for permanent residency in the future. Now 11 years later I recalled this possibility and got the chance to present all my developments through the jobs I performed, and fortunately, they were good enough to be entitled to a U.S. visa.

3. Describe the process for obtaining the EB-2 Visa

First, we started discussing with D&A if my credentials were worthy of being defended by them before the USCIS. The firm studied the content I provided and accepted to represent my case to the USCIS. We then started a process where the firm produced a comprehensive document package that included a detailed introduction to the job field, recommendation letters, government forms, and personal documentation to name the main delivered papers, in short, about a 500-pages long presentation. The document package was reviewed by the USCIS and in about a year they sent their approval notice, allowing us to move forward with the NVC to verify the civil information for each people traveling is in proper shape to produce the visas. Finally, the process culminates with a medical examination and an interview at the consulate where the final checks are performed before proceed stamping the visas on each passport. The whole process from the signature accepting D&A terms until receiving my visa took two years and a half.

4. What obstacles did we encounter along the way and how we overcome these obstacles?

The process in general went smoothly. However, when producing the presentation to the USCIS, we had difficulties documenting my accomplishments of electronic engineering in the field of astronomy since it was way out of the ordinary cases. For this, D&A struggled to bring down to earth all the specifics of showing the things done in the astronomy field. In the end, this extra effort paid off as no request for evidence was issued by the USCIS, saving us a good amount of months preparing additional documents.

5. How did the Covid-19 pandemic impact your application?

Last year, the former U.S. president created several presidential proclamations tackling immigration. One of them specifically targeting employment-based immigration such as my case. The presidential proclamation was lifted at the end of February and my application to the NVC was ready a month before. So I can say COVID-19 delayed my application by one month. Regarding the USCIS, I know they were working with less staff than before, but my immigrant petition processing took more or less than the expected time, which is about a year.

6. Why did you choose D&A?

I did find D&A after searching for immigration attorneys that had a presence in my country, so I could start discussing my possibilities with a local attorney first. I could see through the D&A webpage that this firm has solid expertise in a wide variety of visas, with tailor-made solutions to specific types of applicants according to their nationality. I would say the great experience in obtaining successful cases made me gain enough confidence to seek my chances of obtaining a visa with them.

7. Would you recommend D&A to a friend or colleague?

From my experience in this process, I would undoubtedly recommend my contacts to work with D&A. I was quite impressed to see how deep the firm makes their research to provide a strong background of every project I was involved in, their produce highly appealing recommendation letters based on the experience of each recommender highlighting the professional traits they see in me. Besides, the firm provides further guidance to the entire immigration process, maintaining fluid communication in each step, resolving any inquiries I might have.

8. Is there anything else that you think would be of use to other people considering a similar move to the US.

If you feel your family and professional prospects can be benefited by coming to the U.S, I encourage you to assess your options and contact D&A for assistance in determining what are your best chances to get permanent residency in the U.S. The assessment provided by D&A will be very handy in confirming your visa choice is the best one or if there is a better way to get the desired residency. I can assure you won’t regret working along with D&A.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


US Immigration Visa Approval

EB-2 Visas – Permanent Residency through National Interest Waiver (NIW). A Case Study

Davies & Associates obtained an EB2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) approval for an Organizational/Industrial Psychologist from South Africa. The client had initially wanted another visa, but our immigration attorneys proposed NIW as the better route.

Our client is a highly experienced and inherently talented Organizational/Industrial Psychologist with an advanced degree in Organizational/Industrial Psychology and extensive experience in her field.

Industrial & Organizational Psychology

Industrial and organizational psychology (“I/O psychology”), which is also known as occupational psychology, is an applied practice within the multi-discipline and esoteric field of psychology.  It is the science of human behavior relating to work and applies psychological theories and principles to organizations and individuals in their place of work as well as the individual’s work life in a more general manner. I/O psychologists are trained in the science-practitioner model.  They contribute to an organization’s success by improving the performance, motivation, job satisfaction, and occupational safety and health as well as to the overall health and well-being of its employees.  An I/O psychologist conducts research on employees’ behaviors and attitudes, and how they can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, feedback, and management systems.

How did we obtain the NIW?

D&A successfully presented the client’s outstanding body of work in the field and demonstrated how she meets the rigorous criteria for NIW classification. Although the jobs that qualify for a National Interest Waiver are not defined by statute, national interest waivers are usually granted to those who have exceptional ability and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation.

Those seeking a national interest waiver may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them) and may file their labor certification directly with USCIS along with their Form I-140, Petition for Alien Work.

What is the National Interest Waiver (NIW)?

The NIW (National Interest Waiver) is the third subcategory of the second-preference employment-based visa category (EB2 visa). Employment-based visas – anything with the prefix “EB” – are immigrant visas in that they offer permanent residency / Green Card.

In the NIW category, an applicant can request that labor certification be waived because it is in the US national interest to do so (the other EB-2 categories require labor certification). People working in any industry could apply for NIW, but the applicant should be able to demonstrate their role is in the national interest. This makes it especially popular for people in science and healthcare.

Other EB2 Visa Subcategories

The two other subcategories for EB-2 are “Advanced Degree” – anyone with an advanced degree plus at least five years of credible work experience – and “Exceptional Ability”. This is for people who have exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. In this regard it is similar to the EB-1A category for people with extraordinary ability and the EB-1C category for international managers and executives. Unlike the NIW subcategory, these two subcategories do require labor certification. 

The client initially approached Davies & Associates with another visa category in mind and our team was able to recommend the EB-2 route instead. This highlights the importance of engaging with an immigration attorney early in the process. Our team offers an initial free consultation to prospective clients as part of this determination process.

Contact us to request your appointment.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Merit-Based Visa Categories: A Strong Constant in Uncertain Times

By David Cantor

Throughout the span of four-years, the United States immigration framework has faced unprecedented times. The main governing entities – the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of State (DoS) – have made distinctive regulatory changes in order to carry out various, larger policy-oriented goals, namely rooted in national security and economic concerns.

Overall, it has been challenging times for many US visa holders and prospective applicants across visa categories to plan, as well as determine the path of least resistance based on your priorities and goals.

Despite the seemingly endless challenges and uncertainties we have faced, there seems to be one US immigration pathway that has proven both reliable and promising for qualified applicants – merit-based visa categories.

In essence, applicants that qualify will be receiving a US visa based on their own qualifications and achievements. While it helps, you do not need to have won the Nobel Peace prize – rather, you should consider this if you have specific professional experiences that seem novel and unique.

There is also no limit on the “type of profession” – and at Davies & Associates we have represented a diverse range of clients, including but not limited to: Foreign Medical Professionals (i.e. doctors, nurses, researchers), Academics and Professors, Business Executives and Entrepreneurs, Artists, Engineers, and much more.

Generally, you should be considering a merit-based visa category if you are able to provide some of the following:

  • Publications & citations of your work;
  • Proof that you have been recognized for your work (i.e. awards);
  • Evidence that you have achieved a higher-level degree and that you are established in your respective profession;
  • Notable letters of recommendation from others in your industry attesting for your qualifications;
  • Membership of relevant associations, boards and professional organizations related to your work;
  • And other core documentary proof demonstrating that you’ve risen to a certain level of expertise in your field.

Now, these are really general terms for what you should be considering for merit-based visa categories, and obviously there is a lot more due-diligence and work that goes into a prospective application. If you believe you may qualify, we would be glad to provide a more detailed consultation, and request that you complete one of our merit-based questionnaires.

For those that do qualify – merit-based visa categories present numerous advantages. To begin with, you are essentially being granted a visa based on your own achievements and expertise.

Some visa categories do not even require you to have a job-offer or an employer sponsor in the United States, so you are actually petitioning yourself (read more about the National Interest Waiver program). Moreover, with a sound immigration strategy many of merit-based visa categories will lead to permanent residence and a Green Card.

How do I know if I qualify for a Merit-Based Visa?

At Davies & Associates our expert team of legal specialists will provide a thorough review to determine your initial eligibility. We would first review your professional portfolio (i.e. CV/resume) and request that you complete our detailed merit-based questionnaire (please send an email to meritbased@usimmigrationadvisor.com)

What are the Merit-Based Visa Categories?

Merit-based visas can be broken down into two main categories: non-immigrant and immigrant. Generally speaking, Non-Immigrant visas are temporary and permit a candidate to live and work in the United States, while Immigrant-based visas lead to permanent residency (Green Card). Oftentimes, depending on the objectives and specific criteria of our clients we will combine visas and present an overall immigration strategy. Some of the most common visa categories include and is not limited to: L-1 / P-1 / O-1 / J-1 / H-1B / EB-1 / EB-2 / NIW.

How long does it take to get a Green Card?

The processing times for building a merit-based visa application will depend on several factors: visa category, specifics of the client’s case, current processing times, and more. Generally speaking, the merit-based visa categories have received favorable and current processing times when compared to other visa categories as a result of the current administration policies. While processing times are subject to change, many of our clients were able to obtain their visas within 9-12 months from respective US consulates.

What type of professionals will qualify for merit-based visas?

As mentioned above, there is no limitation to the “type of professional” that may qualify. You can be a successful businessman, inventor, entrepreneur, medical professional, actuary, physical therapist, TV or Social Media personality, acclaimed artist, software or aeronautical engineer.


The important question is whether you have the credentials to qualify, regardless of the type of professional you are. In general, the more you can demonstrate that you are established and recognized in your respective career the stronger viability you may have for filing. The criteria for qualifying is very specific – so our team of experts will evaluate specific requirements (i.e. # of publications/citations, awards, membership on professional organizations and boards, etc.).

What is the visa process for merit-based visa applications?

Please read our previous article about this HERE.

I believe I qualify for a Merit-Based Visa – what are the next steps?

Contact us today and we will be glad to provide a tailored-consultation: meritbased@usimmigrationadvisor.com

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.