Immigration law (INA §203(b)(2)) determines MINIMUM basic statutory requirements to qualify in EB2 National Interest Waiver category. Either Exceptional Ability OR Advanced Degree Professional requirement must be met.
Regulatory requirement (8 CFR 204.5(k)(2)) define the term Advanced Degree: means any United States academic or professional degree or a foreign equivalent degree above that of baccalaureate. A United States baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree followed by at least five years of progressive experience in the specialty shall be considered the equivalent of a master’s degree. If a doctoral degree is customarily required by the specialty, the alien must have a United States doctorate or a foreign equivalent degree.
And the term Profession as: any occupation for which a United States baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent is the minimum requirement for entry into the occupation.
Regulation (8 CFR 204.5(k)(3)(i)) further requires that petition must be accompanied by:
- An official academic record showing that the alien has an United States advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree; or
- An official academic record showing that the alien has a United States baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree, and evidence in the form of letters from current or former employer(s) showing that the alien has at least five years of progressive post-baccalaureate experience in the specialty.
Simply said: EB2 NIW applicant needs to have at least master’s degree or bachelor’s degree plus five years of work experience (sometimes called BS+5) to meet this criterion.
Majority of National Interest Waiver petitions go easily through this requirement. This way is very popular by postdoctoral research fellows, scientists, scholars or sometimes even PhD students.
Regulation (8 CFR 103.2(b)(3)) requires certified translation of degree in foreign language:
Any document containing foreign language submitted to USCIS shall be accompanied by a full English language translation that the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.
Foreign degree should be also evaluated to prove required equivalent degree. In Adjudicator’s Field Manual (22.2(j)(1)(C)) published at USCIS website is written:
In cases involving foreign degrees, ISOs may favorably consider a credentials evaluation performed by an independent credentials evaluator who has provided a credible, logical and well-documented case for such an equivalency determination that is based solely on the alien’s foreign degree(s). In addition, ISOs may accept a comparable evaluation performed by a school official who has the authority to make such determinations and is acting in his or her official capacity with the educational institution.
Same as in case of second requirement (Exceptional Ability), this is just basic and minimum criterion and is not sufficient for granting Permanent Residency in USA under National Interest Waiver category. Main goal of NIW petition is to prove national interest described further in EB-2 National Interest Waiver criteria category.