What is the Difference Between EB1 vs EB2 Visas?

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Picture of Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Have you ever dreamed of settling down in the U.S. for good? If you answer yes, you should first know the difference between EB1 vs EB2 visas. Skilled workers can easily get their green cards with these visas.

So, who is eligible to get an EB1 immigration visa? These individuals are those with notable accomplishments, such as top researchers.

You can apply for an EB 2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) visa if you have an extraordinary degree or any notable skill that may benefit the United States. You don’t need an employment offer to get approved for this category.

Applying for EB2 NIW requires understanding the PERM process and the Visa Bulletin.

These are important for how fast you get a green card and if you can get one. EB 1 and EB 2 visas have different rules for applying, how long they take, and what you need to do. Through this post, you will know who can apply, how long it takes, and how each immigrant visa can help you live in the U.S. permanently.

You will learn about job-based visas, employers’ roles, and how to get a green card fast. If you are skilled, very talented, or have a high-level degree, knowing about EB 1 and EB 2 visas is essential.

What is an EB1 Visa?

The EB-1 visa is a special green card for people from other countries who are good at what they do, like scientists or artists. It’s the top choice for work-related green cards.

EB 1 Visa Subcategories

The EB-1 visa has three types:

  • EB-1A is for super-talented people
  • EB-1B is for amazing teachers and researchers
  • EB-1C is for big-time bosses or managers

EB-1A for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

The EB-1A immigrant visa is for people recognized nationally or worldwide for their extraordinary skills in science, arts, education, business, or sports. To apply for an EB-1A visa, they must show evidence of how great they are. This can be an award, significant contributions to their field, or published work.

The best thing about EB-1A is that you can apply on your own. You don’t need an employment offer or sponsor.

EB-1B for Outstanding Professors and Researchers

EB-1B is for teachers and researchers famous for their outstanding work worldwide. They should have been doing it for at least three years.

To get this employment-based immigrant visa, they should plan to stay and work in the U.S. for a while, like in a steady teaching job or a long-term research project.

EB-1C for Multinational Managers or Executives

The EB-1C visa is for managers and executives who have worked for a company for at least one of the last three years. They should move to the U.S. for a high-level job in the same company or branch. The company they work for must have been active in the U.S. for at least one year.

A person typing on a laptop computer, focused and engaged in their work.

What is the EB-1 Visa Application Process?

The EB-1 visa application process has several steps and is for people who are the best in what they do. Here’s an overview of the entire process:

1. Figuring out if you qualify and choosing the right type of EB-1 visa

The first step involves determining eligibility under one of the three EB-1 subcategories. Each category has specific eligibility criteria:

– EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability): Provide substantial evidence of exceptional skill in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. No job offer or labor certification is required, and individuals can self-petition.

– EB-1B (Outstanding Professors and Researchers): You need to be internationally known for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field, along with at least three years of experience in teaching or research. An employment offer from a U.S. employer is necessary.

– EB-1C (Multinational Managers and Executives): Requires applicants to have been employed outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity for at least one of the three years preceding the petition.

2. Filing the Petition

– For EB-1A, individuals can file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, themselves (self-petition).

– For EB-1B and EB-1C, the U.S. employer must file Form I-140 on behalf of the beneficiary.

3. Presenting Substantial Evidence

You need to show a lot of papers and records when you apply for your petition. This means showing your exceptional skill and how good you are at your job, whether you are popular worldwide or if you’ve been a big boss or manager, depending on what you’re applying for.

4. Application for Lawful Permanent Residency

If the applicant is already in the United States, they can complete a form known as the I-485. This form is used to apply for permanent residency or to alter their current status in the U.S. They can submit it concurrently with or after their I-140 application, provided a visa number is available.

If the person applying isn’t in the U.S., they’ll need to go through a process at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their country. This is called consular processing.

5. Adjudication by USCIS

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will look at the application and all the papers that come with it. They will check everything carefully to ensure the person applying fits all the rules for the EB-1 visa.

6. Responding to Requests for Evidence (RFE)

If the USCIS needs more information, they’ll send a Request for Evidence (RFE). This means the person applying has to send them the extra information they need within a specific time.

7. Approval and Issuance of Visa/Green Card

Upon approval of the I-140 and I-485 (if applicable), the applicant is granted a visa or adjusted status to a lawful permanent resident.

8. Biometrics and Interview

Applicants may be required to provide biometric data and attend an interview at a USCIS office or U.S. consulate.

What is the EB 2 visa?

Ever dream of calling America home? Well, the EB-2 visa might just be your magic ticket! Imagine being a whiz-kid scientist, a world-famous artist, or a business superstar – that’s who this visa is for.

It’s like a door that opens wide for folks with special talents or top-notch degrees to make their mark on the U.S. From brain surgeons to bakers with the golden touch, everyone’s got a place to shine!

EB 2 Visa Subcategories

There are three subcategories under EB 2 visa:

Advanced Degrees

The EB 2 visa has two main groups. The first is for those with advanced degrees. This usually means having a master’s degree or advanced degree. Sometimes, a bachelor’s degree plus five years of growing work experience in the field also counts.

Exceptional Abilities

The second EB 2 group is for people with ‘exceptional ability’. These are individuals with above-average skills in science, arts, or business.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

A special part of the EB 2 visa is the NIW. With this, people can skip the usual steps of getting a job offer and require PERM certification.

Usually, EB 2 needs the PERM process. The detailed check ensures hiring someone from another country doesn’t hurt U.S. workers’ jobs or pay.

But with the NIW, if you show your work is vital and good for the U.S., you can apply for the visa yourself. You need to prove your skills, and work will help the U.S. a lot.

Tips on Processing the EB 2 Visa

Processing the EB2 visa involves several stages:

Filing and Priority Date

So, the EB 2 visa begins when your employer steps up and files a request. That’s your start line. The day they do this? It marks your spot in line, known as your ‘priority date.’ And yes, this date is a biggie because it’s your number for when you can get your visa.

Now, there’s a handy guide called the Visa Bulletin from the U.S. Department of State. Consider it your monthly update on who’s getting their visas and how long you might have to wait. Where you’re from and your ‘priority date’ are the big players in how long you’ll be waiting.”

After Approval – Adjusting Status or Consular Processing

After your immigration petition is approved and you have a visa, you can either change your status (if you’re already in the U.S.) or go through consular processing (if you’re outside the U.S.).

EB2 applicants can also choose a fast-track review of their petition with premium processing. But remember, this doesn’t cut the wait for a visa number.

The EB2 Visa – A Gateway to Opportunities

The EB2 visa is more than paperwork. It’s a way for skilled people to bring their talents to the U.S. and add to its culture and work world. This visa values qualified foreign nationals’ impact on the U.S. in technology, arts, or business.

Navigating the Process – Seeking Expert Guidance

The EB2 visa process needs careful attention and understanding of U.S. immigration rules. Many people get help from an immigration lawyer. They ensure everything in your application is perfect, from showing your skills or degree to handling the PERM process or applying yourself.

This complex path opens many chances for those wanting to succeed in the U.S.

What is the Difference Between EB1 vs EB2?

When navigating the intricate landscape of U.S. immigration, understanding the distinctions between different visa categories is essential. The EB1 and EB2 visas, part of the employment-based immigration system, offer paths to obtain permanent residency but cater to distinct groups of professionals and have separate requirements.

EB1 Visa: For Top Talents

The EB1 visa is for top professionals. It’s the first choice in work-based U.S. immigration.

There are three kinds: EB 1A for those with excellent skills in science, art, education, business, or sports; EB1-B for well-known professors and researchers; and EB1-C for big company managers and executives from abroad.

The main thing here is showing you’re good at what you do. A big plus for EB1 folks is they can skip the PERM Labor Certification process. This makes completing a green card process faster.

EB2 Visa: For Advanced Degrees and Exceptional Ability

The EB2 visa is mainly for those with high-level degrees or exceptional talent in science, art, or business. It would help if you had a master’s degree or more or a bachelor’s degree plus five years of growing work experience. The EB2 also has a special part, the NIW. This lets some people apply independently, without a job offer or PERM Labor Certification.

PERM Labor Certification: The Big Difference

The need for PERM Labor Certification sets these two visas apart. Most EB2 folks must get this.

It’s a challenging step where the employer has to show there are no U.S. workers fit for the job and that hiring a foreigner will help U.S. workers. But EB1 applicants and those going for an EB 2 NIW don’t need this.

Timing and Premium Processing

EB1 and EB2 green card holders can choose quick processing for their applications. But how fast you get a green card can vary a lot. It depends on where you’re from and how U.S. immigration services are assessing.

List of Persons Who May Qualify for EB1 Category

The EB1 visa is like an exclusive club in U.S. immigration. It’s for the top stars in various fields. Who’s in this particular group? Let’s find out:

Extraordinary Ability Superstars

First up are the individuals with extraordinary abilities. These are the Michael Jordans of their fields – the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.

To qualify, you’ve got to be more than just good. You need to be at the top of your game and recognized nationally or internationally for your achievements.

And the cherry on top? You don’t need an employment offer or a sponsoring employer. It’s like showing up at a party and being the guest of honor – you self-petition.

Outstanding Professors and Researchers

These are the academic superstars. They do more than teach or research; they change their fields. Imagine them as academic heroes with many published works, awards, and fame worldwide.

To be part of this group, you need three years in teaching or research and a job offer from a U.S. school. It’s like a VIP ticket to the world of top academia.

Multinational Managers and Executives

Next up are the multinational managers and executives. Think of them as the wizards of the business world. They’re the ones leading big international companies. They manage departments, oversee essential tasks, or make big decisions.

To get in, you need at least three years of experience in a top role in a company outside the U.S. and yes, your company needs to back you up, like a corporate sponsor. But getting an EB1 can be challenging. You need to show your best. Whether it’s Olympic medals, top research, or leading big businesses, your proof must be strong.

You must show evidence of your excellent skills, academic wins, or extensive leadership experience.

What is an EB1 extraordinary ability visa?

The EB1 Extraordinary Ability visa is special in U.S. immigration. It’s for people who are amazingly talented and at the top in their area, like arts, sciences, education, business, or sports.

This visa is unique because it’s for those who are among the few who have achieved tremendous success and fame, either nationally or worldwide.

Key Characteristics of the EB1 Extraordinary Ability Visa

1. Proof of Extraordinary Ability: Applicants must provide substantial proof to demonstrate their unique ability. This may include major awards or prizes, significant contributions to their field, publication of their work in major media or professional journals, or other recognitions of excellence from reputable organizations.

2. No Job Offer Required: One of the most notable aspects of the EB 1 Extraordinary Ability visa is allowing individuals to petition themselves. This means applicants are not required to have an employment offer or a labor certification from a U.S. employer, a standard prerequisite for many other employment-based visas.

3. Intention to Continue Work in the Area of Expertise: Applicants must intend to continue working in their area of special skills upon arrival in the United States. The goal is to ensure that their talents and abilities will continue to benefit the U.S. in their respective fields or national importance.

4. Benefits of the Visa: Successful applicants obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States, commonly known as getting a Green Card. This status allows them to live and work permanently in the U.S. and extends to their spouse and unmarried children under 21.

The adjudication process for an EB 1 Extraordinary Ability visa is rigorous, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) meticulously evaluating the evidence submitted to ascertain whether the applicant meets the high standards set for this category.

Experts often recommend that potential applicants seek an immigration lawyer’s guidance to navigate this complex process effectively.

Is the Processing Time of EB1 and EB2 the Same?

The processing times for the EB1 and EB2 green card categories, both critical components of the U.S. employment-based immigration system can differ due to various factors inherent to each category.

While they are part of the broader framework of providing a pathway to permanent residency based on employment, the specifics of each category influence their respective processing timelines. Here’s an overview:

1. EB1 Visa (First Preference Visa):

Categories: This includes individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.

Processing Time: The EB1 category typically has a faster processing time than the EB2. This higher priority in the employment-based green card preference system and often lower demand relative to its annual visa quota is attributed to this.

However, processing times are subject to change based on application volume, the country of origin of the applicant, and the workload of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

2. EB2 Visa (Second Preference Visa):

Categories: This visa is designed for professionals holding an advanced degree or individuals with exceptional ability in their field.

National Interest Waiver: A segment of EB2 allowing self-petitioning without an employer, provided the applicant’s work benefits the U.S. national interest.

Processing Time: The processing times for EB2 visas can be lengthier than for EB1. The process can add several months to the timeline if a Labor Certification (PERM) is required.

Additionally, EB2 is subject to the Visa Bulletin’s priority dates, which can result in extended waiting periods for applicants from countries with high demand levels. For more detailed guidance and updates on your visa application process, provide a current email address when submitting your paperwork.

Key Factors Affecting Processing Times:

  • Priority Dates and Visa Bulletin: Both categories are subject to current priority dates, which can significantly impact processing times, especially for applicants from oversubscribed countries.
  • Country of Origin: Applicants from countries with a high volume of applicants, like India and China, often face longer waiting periods due to visa number caps.
  • Labor Certification Requirement (for EB2): The need for a PERM Labor Certification in most EB2 cases adds to the processing time.
  • Volume of Applications and USCIS Workload: Fluctuations in application volume and USCIS processing capacity can affect the processing speed for both categories.

EB-2 PERM Labor Certification Process

The journey towards U.S. permanent residency through employment-based categories often leads many to explore the EB-2 visa, particularly its PERM Labor Certification process.

The EB-2 Visa and PERM Process

Many people looking for U.S. permanent residency through work look at the EB-2 visa and its PERM Labor Certification. This step is critical for most EB-2 visas.

It shows the U.S. commitment to protecting jobs for Americans while letting skilled foreigners work when needed.

PERM: Protecting U.S. Workers

PERM stands for Program Electronic Review Management. It’s a system by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for labor certifications needed for most EB-2 visas. PERM aims to ensure hiring foreigners doesn’t hurt U.S. workers’ jobs, pay, or conditions.

Recruitment Steps by Employers

The process starts with the U.S. employer. They must try to find U.S. workers first. This includes job ads in newspapers and online. The job also gets listed with the state’s job agency. These efforts must follow strict DOL rules.

Filing the PERM Application

The employer can file a PERM application with the DOL if no U.S. worker fits. This includes details like job duties and pay, which must be fairly compared to similar jobs.

The Role of Prevailing Wage

A crucial part of PERM is figuring out the proper wage. The employer asks the DOL for this ‘prevailing wage.’ It’s the average pay for similar jobs in the area. This makes sure foreign workers get the same pay as U.S. workers.

Review and Approval

The DOL checks the PERM application carefully. Mistakes can lead to a denial. If no U.S. workers are fit for the job, PERM is approved, and hiring a foreigner will help U.S. workers.

After PERM Approval

With PERM approved, the employer can ask USCIS for a visa for the foreign worker.

The Importance of the EB-2 PERM Process

The EB-2 PERM is the first big step toward an EB-2 visa and living in the U.S. permanently. It balances letting skilled foreigners work in the U.S. and protecting American jobs. Understanding this process often requires help from an immigration attorney to make sure everything is done right.

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Advantages of EB1 vs EB2

The distinctions between the EB 1 and EB 2 categories become crucial when considering the pathways to U.S. permanent residency through employment-based visas. Each category offers unique advantages tailored to different types of professionals and their respective qualifications.

EB1 Visa: Faster Processing and No PERM Required

The EB 1 visa stands out because it doesn’t need a PERM Labor Certification. This makes the application process quicker and simpler. The PERM process, required for most EB2 visas, checks the job market to ensure no U.S. workers fit the job. It can be long and complex.

Another plus for the EB 1 visa is shorter wait times, especially for people from countries with many visa applicants. With fewer people applying for EB1 than EB2, the wait and process are usually faster.

EB2 Visa: Self-Petition Option and Flexibility

The EB2 visa, especially the NIW subcategory, lets eligible people apply without a job offer or sponsor. They must prove their work is essential and helps the U.S. This is great for entrepreneurs and independent researchers.

While the standard EB2 visa does need a PERM, it’s useful for those who don’t fit EB 1. It helps employers prove why they need a foreign worker with specific skills not found in the U.S. job market.

EB2: A Broader Path for Qualification

The EB2 visa is more flexible for qualifying. If you don’t meet the strict EB1 criteria, EB2 can be an alternative. It’s suitable for professionals with higher education or a lot of experience in their field. In the EB2 visa process, mainly when a job offer is involved, the employer acts as the petitioner, initiating the visa application on behalf of the candidate.

Eligibility to Waive PERM Labor Certification

In U.S. immigration, getting a green card means dealing with complex rules like the PERM Certification. But, for some, there’s a chance to skip this challenging process.

PERM is key in work-based visas. It shows employers are not fit to hire U.S. workers for a job. This ensures U.S. jobs and pay aren’t hurt by hiring from abroad. Though necessary, PERM can take a long time. That’s why some look for other ways.

EB2 vs EB1 Visas: Avoiding PERM

The EB1 and EB2 visa categories can avoid PERM. The EB1 doesn’t need PERM, especially for those with top skills (EB 1A). It’s for people at the top in science, arts, education, business, or sports with national or international fame. The rules here are strict. You need proof of your skills.

In EB2, the NIW is important. It lets some with extraordinary skills or high education independently apply for a green card. They don’t need a job offer or a sponsor. They must show their work is significant and helps the U.S.

Benefits of Waivers and Premium Processing

Qualifying for these waivers has big perks. 

  • Skipping PERM speeds up getting a green card and cuts ties to one employer.
  • This gives more freedom in the U.S. job market. You can also make faster decisions on your application with premium processing.
  • This helps, especially with visa bulletin wait times and priority dates affecting how long it takes to get permanent residency.


In summary, EB1 and EB2 are two different visas for living permanently in the U.S. The EB1 visa is meant for highly skilled folks, like leading scientists, professors, or company heads. Its process is simpler. You don’t need a special labor certificate. This means you can get your visa faster, which is excellent for highly skilled people.

The EB2 visa is for people with high-level degrees or unique talents. It gives more people a chance to qualify. In EB2, there’s a unique option called the National Interest Waiver. It lets some people apply without a job offer or the usual labor certificate.

It’s important to understand each visa type, what’s needed to get one, how long it takes, and what the rules are about labor certificates. Both visas allow skilled individuals to work in the U.S. and aim for a permanent stay.

It’s crucial to follow all U.S. laws and regulations during your stay. Violations can lead to serious consequences, including the risk of deportation. EB1 and EB2 visas are designed with the welfare of the U.S. job market in mind, ensuring that the entry of foreign nationals contributes positively to the economy.

After obtaining permanent residency through an EB1 or EB2 visa, individuals may eventually pursue naturalization to become U.S. citizens. By getting good advice and learning about each visa, you’ll find the perfect path to turn your American dream into reality.

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