United States EB2 NIW STEM Visa

What Is The EB-2 Immigration Program for the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Field

The EB-2 NIW STEM National Interest Waiver is a program that allows workers within the STEM field with exceptional ability to obtain a green card without the need for a job offer or sponsorship. This program recognizes the importance of the STEM field in the U.S. and allows them to contribute their skills and expertise to the national interest.

The Benefits

Citizenship and Family Inclusion

  • Obtain a Green Card (unconditional permanent residence status valid for 10 years) in the USA for the applicant and family members.
  • Dependents included:
    • Spouse (same sex included)
    • Children under 21

Travel and Quality of Life

  • Right to live, work, and study in the USA.
  • Pathway to U.S. citizenship after 5 years of residence in USA.


  • Fast processing time compared to other green card routes (i.e., family sponsorship)

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    EB2 NIW STEM Visa Requirements

    • Submit the completed application forms and required documents.
    • Obtain the National Interest Waiver.
    • File for the immigrant visa at U.S. consulate abroad allowing the applicant and family members to get their immigrant visas.
    • Arrival to the U.S. and receipt of Green Cards via mail.
    • Application processing time varies according to the applicant’s country of birth, consular processing time, and whether retrogression is in effect.
    • Typical processing time is within 8-12 months for individuals not born in India or China.

    Additional Requirements (Must meet three of the criteria listed below)*

    • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning in a STEM field.
    • At least 10 years of full-time experience working in the STEM field.
    • Licensure to practice your profession.
    • Evidence of salary in the top 70% of STEM field experts in country of employment at some point in last 5 years.
    • Proof of membership in an acceptable professional association(s).
    • Recognition of achievements in the STEM field from peers, government entities, professional or business organizations.
    • Other comparable evidence (anything that makes your background and/or experience special or noteworthy, including management and/or academic duties, publications, speeches etc) *

    Accepted Fields:

    • Advanced Computing
    • Advanced Engineering Materials
    • Advanced Gas Turbine Engine Technologies
    • Advanced Manufacturing
    • Advanced and Networked Sensing and Signature Management
    • Advanced Nuclear Energy Technologies
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Autonomous Systems and Robotics
    • Biotechnologies
    • Communication and Networking Technologies
    • Directed Energy
    • Financial Technologies
    • Human-Machine Interfaces
    • Hypersonics
    • Networked Sensors and Sensing
    • Quantum Information Technologies
    • Renewable Energy Generation and Storage
    • Semiconductors and Microelectronics
    • Space Technologies and Systems

    Additional Fields:

    Proposals in other emerging areas are welcome and will be considered based on their merit and relevance.

    The Process

    Arrows process

    Due Diligence and Application

    • Pre-assessment.
    • Collection of supporting documents.
    • Submission of application, with supporting documents and individualised letter of support.

    EB2 Visa STEM Approval

    • 8 to 12 months to receive National Interest Waiver (Premium processing is available to shorten the timeline).
    • File for the immigrant visas at U.S. consulate abroad.
    • 3 to 6 months to obtain immigrant visas.


    • Enter the USA within 6 months of issuance of immigrant visas.
    • Receive Green Cards by post to your USA address.

    Important Note*

    • The National Interest Waiver dispenses with the typical requirement for a job offer and a process to demonstrate unavailable American workers for the position. Some of the criteria above are objective and some are subjective. If there is anything in your professional history and training that you consider above average (such as advanced education, additional positions of leadership, or additional training certificates obtained) let us know, we will work with you to determine if it is useful.
    • Our expectation when we filed the first few petitions in December of 2021 was that we would have to wait approximately 8 to 12 months for a response from USCIS. We have been pleasantly surprised with feedback received (approval and/or request for further evidence) in less than 3 months on some occasions. Despite this, we are still advising our clients to continue with the expectation of an 8 to 12 month timeline. Additionally, there is an option for expedited processing with USCIS through premium processing for an added fee, where USCIS commits to provide feedback within 45 days. However, it is important to note that our experience with USCIS has revealed that delays can occur and vary.

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    With 30 years of immigration experience, each of Harvey Law Group’s lawyers carefully studies each client’s needs, resources and determines the immigration solution that best aligns with our client’s vision and values.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      EB-2 stands for Employment Based Second Preference immigrant visa.

      Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

      Successful applicants will lawfully obtain a permanent status (green card) in USA for themselves and their dependents valid for 10 years and eligibility for US citizenship.

      Yes, there are 3 different categories:

      • EB-2 A: Individuals holding advanced degrees in fields requiring advanced degrees
      • EB-2 B: Individuals who demonstrate exceptional ability in their field
      • EB-2 C: Individuals granted a National Interest Waiver (“NIW”)

      No, a job offer is not required for the National Interest Waiver (“NIW”) category. The job offer (also called labor certification) is only required for the first 2 categories (EB-2 A and EB-2 B).

      The NIW allows the applicant to apply to the EB-2 program without having a valid job offer in USA. In other words, the NIW waives the job offer requirement.

      The addition of a US job offer would benefit the application, though ultimately, the approval of the EB-2 application is entirely at the discretion of the USCIS officer reviewing the application.

      No, previous teaching experience or academic publications are not required, though this may benefit the application.

      Potentially; all interested applicants are requested to complete a preliminary assessment form to review their eligibility to the program. Upon review by our legal team, we will contact should we require further information and render an assessment based on the information provided.

      To qualify, the applicant must demonstrate that:

      • They meet the advanced degree and/or at least 3 of the 6 exceptional ability criteria;
      • Their proposed endeavour has substantial merit and national importance;
      • They are well-positioned to conduct the project; and
      • On balance, it would be beneficial to the USA to waive the requirement of a job offer for the applicant.

      Potentially; all interested applicants need to demonstrate how their proposed endeavour meets the above criteria which may require demonstration through a business idea.

      No. The USCIS has issues general guidance explaining how they determine Exceptional Ability and the national interest of the United States. Specific professions are not mentioned.

      The I-140 is the name of the Form an applicant must submit when filing the EB-2 application and National Interest Waiver request.

      By applying for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver, you are expressing an interest to immigrate to the United States.

      If you apply for a non-immigrant visa, there is a risk that a consular officer may decide to ask you (or not to ask you) further questions about it, and could deny future non-immigrant visa requests based on the intent to immigrate to the United States if he/she is of the view that you may constitute a risk as a person attempting to enter the US as a non-immigrant/tourist purposely to then go on to stay in the US illegally. If you have concerns about this issue, you can discuss it with one of our attorneys.

      It is important to understand that this risk is very remote, in particular if you have a history of entering the US without overstaying and that you have family and other ties elsewhere. In our years of practice, we have never seen a non-immigrant visa being denied for this reason, but it is still a possibility.

      Yes, you may travel to the U.S. while your petition is pending. However, if you are asked whether you have applied for permanent residence or an immigrant visa, your answer must be YES. Explain to the officer that the purpose of the temporary trip, when you will be leaving and make it clear to the officer that you are not staying in the U.S., and you will process your permanent residence abroad at the U.S. consulate.

      8 to 12 months (on average). Note that the fastest petition we had approved was approved within less than 1 month.

      Yes, the premium processing option is currently available for EB2 NIW petitions. As such, applications submitted opting for this premium processing option will receive a response from USCIS within 45 days of the premium processing request.

      Upon approval of your EB2 NIW application, your case will be transferred from USCIS to the US Department of State National Visa Centre (NVC) to process your green card applications for you and your dependents. Upon submission of your green card applications, the NVC will triage the case to the appropriate U.S. Consulate for the immigration medical check and consular interview. The immigrant visa green card will be issued after passing the interview.

      The processing time varies between consulates and as such we are unable to provide a definitive processing timeline. Previously we have had consulates issue the consular interview date within 3 to 6 months, while others are backlogged to 12 months. Note that immigration policies and timelines are subject to frequent change so upon the approval of a client’s EB2 NIW, we will re-evaluate the best/expedient options available.

      Yes, it is possible to delay the process at this stage if you need to, simply keep us informed.


      No. In such cases, the applicant may be eligible for an adjustment of status in the U.S. and will not need to go back to their country of origin.

      Yes, it may be subject to retrogression. Whether or not depends on the monthly Visa Bulletins published by USCIS. Note that applicants born in India and Mainland Chinese are subject to further retrogression. Upon assessment of an applicant’s profile, we evaluate the best method to minimize or hopefully avoid backlog.

      No. It is not required to legalize or notarize the translation of foreign language documents. A certified translation by a licensed translator will suffice.

      USD 715.

      Spouse and children under 21 years old.

      Same-sex marriage is accepted. However, a common law partner cannot apply as dependent under the EB-2. Only married spouses are considered as dependent. Note that election of which dependents you wish to include in your application is only made after approval of Stage 1 National Interest Waiver. There is no requirement to have been married for any minimum duration, meaning that you can include spouse with whom who got married while process of Stage 1 was ongoing (but married before NIW approval).

      Yes, provided they are under 21 years old. The step-children may require additional consent from the other biological parent if they have shared/joint custody of the child.

      Yes, it may be possible. The age of the child is frozen while the I-140 is pending. When the priority date becomes current – when an immigrant visa becomes available – and after approval of the I-140, the number of days it took to process the I-140 is subtracted from the chronological age of the child. If that yields an age under 21, then the child will be included in the petition if the family wishes. The reason why we state it may be possible is that it will depend on the country of nationality and the availability of immigrant visas for that country at any given time.

      Yes. A consent letter from the parent who is not included in the application will need to be provided.

      10 years.

      No. The EB-2 green card is unconditional.

      U.S. Law does not set a specific number of days to be spent per year in the U.S. to maintain the green card. However, a green card is granted to individuals who want to live and set their main residence in USA. If any person granted a green card lives outside the US for an extended period of time, they are at risk of being considered as having abandoned their permanent residency and loses their green card. This is assessed on an individual basis.

      It means the place where someone usually lives and spends most of their time.

      Yes. EB-2 green card holders can live, work, study, or retire in the USA.

      No. Only U.S. citizens are entitled to file sponsorship applications for their parents.

      Yes. A green card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years of residence in USA (by spending over 2.5 years of the five years in the U.S. with no absences of more than 6 months in a row). There are some exceptions to the residency requirements but that is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

      Yes, provided you maintain the US as your primary residence.

      Yes, your ability to apply for US citizenship is assessed individually. You can still apply for US citizenship after 5 years of holding your green card and meeting the citizenship requirements even if your green card dependents do not apply for US citizenship with you.