Understanding the Differences Between EB1 and EB2 Visas for U.S. Immigration

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Picture of Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Are you dreaming of making the U.S. your permanent home? If so, it’s crucial to understand the differences between EB1 and EB2 visas. These employment-based visas are pathways to obtaining a green card, but they cater to different qualifications and have distinct processes.

Who Qualifies for an EB1 Visa?

The EB1 visa is designed for individuals with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers or executives. Here’s a breakdown:

  • EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability): This is for individuals who have achieved national or international acclaim in fields such as science, arts, education, business, or athletics. You can self-petition without a job offer.
  • EB-1B (Outstanding Professors and Researchers): This category is for professors and researchers recognized internationally for their contributions in academia. Applicants need at least three years of experience and a job offer from a U.S. employer.
  • EB-1C (Multinational Managers or Executives): This is for managers and executives who have worked abroad for at least one of the last three years in a managerial capacity and are being transferred to the U.S. branch of their company.

Who Qualifies for an EB2 Visa?

The EB2 visa is aimed at individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities. There are three main subcategories:

  • Advanced Degrees: For those with a master’s degree or higher, or a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressive work experience in their field.
  • Exceptional Ability: For individuals with a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
  • National Interest Waiver (NIW): This allows individuals to self-petition if their work is of substantial intrinsic merit and benefits the U.S. They do not need a job offer or the PERM labor certification.
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Key Differences in Application Processes

EB1 Visa Process

  1. Determine Eligibility: Identify the appropriate EB1 subcategory based on your qualifications.
  2. File the Petition: EB-1A applicants can self-petition using Form I-140. For EB-1B and EB-1C, the U.S. employer must file the petition.
  3. Submit Evidence: Provide substantial documentation to prove your extraordinary ability, outstanding achievements, or executive experience.
  4. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: If already in the U.S., file Form I-485 for permanent residency. If outside the U.S., undergo consular processing.
  5. USCIS Adjudication: USCIS reviews the application and may request additional evidence.
  6. Biometrics and Interview: Attend a biometrics appointment and, if required, an interview.

EB2 Visa Process

  1. PERM Labor Certification: Most EB2 applicants need to go through the PERM process unless applying under the NIW subcategory. This involves the employer proving there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position.
  2. File the Petition: The employer files Form I-140 after obtaining PERM certification. NIW applicants can self-petition.
  3. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing: Similar to EB1, apply for permanent residency via Form I-485 or consular processing.
  4. USCIS Adjudication: USCIS reviews the application and may request additional evidence.

Advantages of EB1 vs. EB2 Visas

EB1 Advantages:

  • No PERM RequirementEB1 applicants do not need labor certification, speeding up the process.
  • Faster Processing: Generally, EB1 visas have quicker processing times due to higher priority and fewer applicants.

EB2 Advantages:

  • National Interest Waiver: Allows self-petitioning without a job offer or labor certification if the applicant’s work benefits the U.S.
  • Broader Qualification: More inclusive criteria for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities.

Processing Times and Factors

The processing times for EB1 and EB2 visas vary. EB1 generally has shorter processing times, while EB2 can be longer due to the PERM certification process and visa bulletin priority dates.


Both EB1 and EB2 visas offer pathways to permanent residency in the U.S., but they cater to different qualifications and have unique processes. Understanding these differences and the specific requirements for each can help you choose the best path to achieve your American dream.

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