Skip to content

EB2 Visa Vs EB2-NIW Visa: What is the difference?

William Carriello
Posted on Mon Nov 6
4 min read

Welcome to our guide on the EB2 Visa and EB2 NIW Visa, dedicated to shedding light on the often confusing differences between these two options. At HAYMAN-WOODWARD, we understand the importance of making the right choice when it comes to obtaining permanent residency in the United States. Let’s dive into the details and help you navigate your path to a Green Card.

The EB2 Visa Program: Unlocking Opportunities

The EB-2 Visa Program, introduced in 1990, is your gateway to achieving an unconditional Green Card, offering permanent residency to non-U.S. citizens with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities. It’s also suitable for entrepreneurs with groundbreaking ideas poised to stimulate economic growth.

How Challenging Is It to Secure an EB-2 Visa?

Obtaining an EB-2 Visa is generally easier, but the COVID-induced backlog has resulted in long waiting times for applicants. It’s important to note that while the process might be more straightforward, you could find yourself waiting for years before your application is even considered. In contrast, the EB-2 NIW Visa offers a premium processing option, providing a response within 45 days.

Requirements for the EB-2 Visa

The EB-2 Visa is employment-based and requires the job you’re applying for to demand an advanced degree. You must also hold such a degree or its foreign equivalent. Additionally, you should provide an approved I-140 petition from a verified employer, evidence of your diplomas or certifications, and a DOL (Department of Labor) certificate.

Is EB2 the Same as a Green Card?

While the EB2 Visa Program isn’t the same as a Green Card, it paves the way to obtaining one. Once you’ve successfully obtained an EB2 Visa, you can apply for a Green Card, which grants you permanent residency status in the United States.

EB2 NIW Visa: A Unique Approach

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) of the EB-2 NIW Visa allows applicants to bypass the employment requirement. Unlike the EB-2 Visa, which mandates a U.S. employer to submit the I-140 petition, the EB-2 NIW requires applicants to go through this process themselves. The National Interest Waiver is subjective, with cases hinging on the proposed endeavor’s substantial merit and national importance. For example, the pilot shortage in the U.S. presents an opportunity for pilots to apply for Green Cards via the EB-2 NIW program.

Advantages of the EB2 NIW Visa Program

  • Bypasses job offer requirement
  • Faster processing times (with premium processing option)
  • National Interest Waiver for demonstrating national importance
  • Simplified application process (legal assistance recommended)
  • Allows bringing dependents
  • Suitable for self-employment and entrepreneurial endeavors

Contrasts with Standard EB2 Visa

  • Requires a job offer and labor certification
  • Often faces longer processing times due to backlogs
  • Depends on employer sponsorship

Choosing the Right Visa for You

The choice between the two visas should align with your specific circumstances and objectives. It’s crucial to consider your qualifications, time constraints, and individual goals when making this decision.




Job Offer Requirement



Processing Time

Years or even decades depending on the applicant's location

5-12 months, with premium processing available (45 days)

Legal Assistance Requirement

No, employer files I-140 petition and labor certification

Yes, applicant must prove the proposed endeavor's benefits

Bringing Dependents

Yes, but approval may not occur before they turn 21

Yes, if they are below 21


Advanced degree, exceptional ability, job offer

Advanced degree, exceptional ability, proposed endeavor with substantial merit and national importance, applicant well-positioned, beneficial to waive job offer requirements

Expert Guidance Matters

In the complex world of U.S. immigration, it’s vital to seek expert advice. At HAYMAN-WOODWARD, we have over 30 years of experience in immigration services and more than 20 offices worldwide. Our dedicated team can provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate the EB2 and EB2 NIW Visa processes successfully. Contact us at or visit our website at to discuss your plans with one of our legal professionals.

Make your dream of obtaining permanent residency in the United States a reality with the right visa choice and expert assistance. At HAYMAN-WOODWARD, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Share this post:

Related Posts

You may be eligible for a permanent visa!

Have you ever thought about living and working in the United States and living the American dream?

Find out if you're eligible