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EB-2 NIW Visa vs EB-1A: Comparison and Choice

Professionals and entrepreneurs can obtain U.S. visas via EB-1A and EB-2 NIW visa. This article reviews their criteria, processing speed, differences, and costs to help you decide.

Overview of EB-1A and EB-2 NIW:

EB-1A visa, also known as the “Extraordinary Ability” visa, is intended for outstanding individuals in fields such as science, arts, education, business, and sports. An advantage of EB-1A is that it does not require a job offer or sponsorship from an employer, making the relocation process more direct.

On the other hand, EB-2 NIW visa, or “National Interest Waiver” visa, is intended for entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, and professionals who can bring significant benefit to the United States with their skills and work experience in a specific field. It is important to note that EB-2 NIW also does not require a sponsor or job offer.

Criteria for both visas:

The criteria for obtaining EB-1A include evidence that you are an outstanding leader or expert in your field, that your work has national or international recognition, and that your presence in the United States will continue with you working in this field.

The criteria for EB-2 NIW visa require evidence that your work is of substantial importance to the national interests of the United States, that you are a specialist in your field, and that your stay in the United States will be beneficial to the nation as a whole.

How to Obtain Each Visa:

EB-1A Visa:

EB-2 NIW Visa:

visa EB-2NIW US

How Long Does It Take to Get Each Visa?

The processing time for obtaining a visa can be an important factor in choosing between EB-1A and EB-2 NIW. Typically, EB-1A visas are processed faster since they do not require labor certification or evidence of national interest, as is required for EB-2 NIW. However, processing times may vary depending on individual circumstances and the current workload of immigration services. 

The processing times for EB-1A and EB-2 NIW visas can range from approximately 17 to 27 months for Adjustment of Status (with premium processing reducing it to 11-13 months) and from approximately 15 to 25 months for Consular Processing (with premium processing reducing it to 9-11 months) for EB-1A, and from approximately 17 to 28 months for Adjustment of Status and 15 to 26 months for Consular Processing for EB-2 NIW.

EB-1A Visa (Visa for Persons with Extraordinary Ability)

  1. Preparation of I-140 petition: 2-3 months.
  2. Review of I-140 petition:
    • Standard processing: 6-8 months.
    • Premium processing: 15 calendar days.
  3. Filing of I-485 or DS-260: 1-2 months (document preparation).
  4. Review of I-485 (Adjustment of Status): 8-14 months.
  5. Consular Processing: 6-12 months.

Total time:

EB-2 NIW Visa (National Interest Waiver)

  1. Preparation of I-140 petition: 2-3 months.
  2. Review of I-140 petition: 6-9 months.
  3. Filing of I-485 or DS-260: 1-2 months (document preparation).
  4. Review of I-485 (Adjustment of Status): 8-14 months.
  5. Consular Processing: 6-12 months.

Total time:

Differences between the Visas:

The main difference between EB-1A and EB-2 NIW lies in the criteria that need to be met to obtain the visa. EB-1A requires a higher level of achievement and recognition, while EB-2 NIW is more focused on projects in the national interest of the United States. The choice between them depends on your profile and relocation goals.

visa EB-2NIW US

Cost of Obtaining Each Visa:

EB-1A (Visa for Persons with Extraordinary Ability)

  1. Preparation of I-140 petition:
    • Attorney fees: $6,000 – $30,000.
    • Document preparation: $500 – $1,000.
    • USCIS filing fee for I-140 petition: $700.
  2. Review of I-140 petition:
    • Premium processing (optional): $2,500 (in addition to standard petition fee).
  3. Filing of I-485 or DS-260:
    • Document preparation: $500 – $1,000.
    • USCIS filing fee for I-485 (if in the U.S.): $1,140.
    • Processing fee for DS-260 (if outside the U.S.): $325.
  4. Review of I-485 (Adjustment of Status):
    • Medical examination: $200 – $500.
  5. Consular Processing:
    • DS-260 visa fee: $345.
    • Medical examination (if required): $200 – $500.

EB-2 NIW Visa (National Interest Waiver)

  1. Preparation of I-140 petition:
    • Attorney fees: $6,000 – $30,000.
    • Document preparation: $500 – $1,000.
    • USCIS filing fee for I-140 petition: $700.
  2. Review of I-140 petition:
    • Premium processing (not available for EB-2 NIW).
  3. Filing of I-485 or DS-260:
    • Document preparation: $500 – $1,000.
    • USCIS filing fee for I-485 (if in the U.S.): $1,140.
    • Processing fee for DS-260 (if outside the U.S.): $325.
  4. Review of I-485 (Adjustment of Status):
    • Medical examination: $200 – $500.
  5. Consular Processing:
    • DS-260 visa fee: $345.
    • Medical examination (if required): $200 – $500.
visa EB-2NIW US

EB-1A & EB-2NIW Visa FAQs

What is the difference between EB-1A and EB-2?

What is the disadvantage of EB-2 NIW? 

Processing Time: Processing time is 8-9 months, which is longer compared to EB-1A. Burden of Proof: Applicants mustshould provide substantial evidence that their work benefits U.S. national interests.

Which EB visa is the best? 

“The best” EB visa depends on individual circumstances: EB-1A: Best for individuals with extraordinary abilities and substantial evidence of their achievements. EB-2 NIW: Best for those with an advanced degree or exceptional abilities who can demonstrate their work benefits U.S. national interests. Not necessarily internationally recognized. Suitable for mid-level professionals with achievements. EB-2 (with job offer): Suitable for those with an advanced degree and a U.S. employer willing to sponsor and obtain labor certification.

What is EB-1A visa category? 

EB-1A: A category within the first priority visas for individuals with extraordinary abilities in their field, allowing self-petition without needing a job offer or labor certification.

What is EB-2 NIW visa category? 

EB-2 NIW: A visa category for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities, with a project idea benefiting the U.S. Unlike the standard EB-2 visa, NIW allows for application without a job offer or labor certification, providing applicants more flexibility and autonomy.

What are the benefits of EB-2 NIW? 

Self-petition: Applicants can file independently without needing a job offer. No labor certification: Exempts the need for labor certification, simplifying the process. Flexibility: Provides greater flexibility to work for different employers or in entrepreneurial roles. Advanced degree or exceptional abilities: Recognizes significant contributions of individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.

Assessing Your EB-2NIW Visa Chances

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