US relaxes green card rules for talented individuals with advanced degrees

US has relaxed the tests used to grant a National Interest Waiver (NIW) to EB-2 category of green card applicants

 The EB2 Green card category

Green card also refers to an immigration process of becoming a permanent resident in the USA. The EB-2 Green Card is a category offered to talented immigrants with advanced degrees or especially rare skills. Most of the Indian students who have completed their Masters education in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)category fall under EB2 green card category

EB2 Green Card Processing

Commonly, a permanent job offer and an approved labor certificate are pre-requisites to file for a green card.

Filing the labor certificate is the first step in green card processing. It is a rigorous process where your employer has to be ready to sponsor your green card by offering you a permanent job and has to undergo a series of steps to prove that no US workers are available to fill the position you are employed in, and hence you deserve green card. This process can take from six months to 3 years in some cases.

An NIW allows individuals in the EB-2 category to skip the cumbersome ‘labor certification’ process.

National Interest Waiver (NIW) Petition

On December 27 2016, the US authorities have eased the tests to get National Interest Waiver (NIW).  So, even if a person has no employer, he/she may file an NIW petition on behalf of himself/herself in order to initiate a green card filing process under the EB2 category.

In order to be eligible to file an NIW petition, an applicant must have an “advanced degree” or “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts or business and should demonstrate that he/she seeks employment in an area of substantial merit to the U.S

NIW applications have clear advantages over other regular EB2 green card petitions. Since there is no labor certification or permanent job offer requirement, an NIW is an attractive choice for scholars, researchers, post-doctoral research fellows, PhD students, and other advanced degree professionals.

Apart from offering speedier process in the path towards a green card, NIW holders can also avail of an unlimited H-1B extension, and their spouses too can apply for work authorization.

Indian students with advanced degrees will now have a fairer chance of obtaining an NIW, which in turn will speed up the process of obtaining a green card.

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