EB-2 Green Card Processing Time | What You Need to Know: Timeline, Steps

EB-2 Green Card Processing Time

Are you an exceptional foreign worker who is looking to work toward immigrating to the U.S. through a green card? If so, you have several options to choose from. Of these options, the EB-2 green card is not only an accessible green card but also a highly advantageous one due to the drastically reduced EB-2 green card processing time.

EB-2 Green Card Background

If you aren’t aware of the current employment-based categories, here is a brief overview:

  • EB-1: this green card is for extraordinary workers, researchers, and managers or executives.
  • EB-2: the second green card category is for those that hold advanced degrees or have exceptional ability in their field.
  • EB-3: this category is made up of workers with bachelor’s degrees, 2 years of experience in their field, and unskilled laborers.

As you can see, while the EB-1 has requirements that lie out of the reach of many foreign professionals, the EB-2 has a much more inclusive set of requirements. Here is the breakdown of the qualifications:

  • You must have an advanced degree such as a master’s degree or PhD in a field that is related to the work you wish to do in the U.S. In the absence of a U.S. degree, you can have its foreign equivalent. The alternative to this is to have a relevant bachelor’s degree along with 5 years of experience in the field.
  • You can also provide evidence that you have exceptional ability in the areas of science, art, or business.

What are the Process Steps?

Like almost all employment-based green card categories, the first step is to find a qualified U.S. employer that is willing to sponsor you for your green card. Once that is done:

  • That employer must then apply for a PERM Labor Certification on your behalf with the Department of Labor. This involves making sure that you are not filling a position that could otherwise be given to qualified U.S. workers.
  • Once the PERM is issued, your employer must also file an I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on your behalf.
  • As soon as the USCIS receives your petition, that day marks your priority date. You must then wait until that date becomes current before you can submit an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status if you are already in the U.S. If you are outside the country, you can travel to your home country’s U.S. Consulate or Embassy to apply for the EB-2 green card.

It is important to note that the EB-2 green card category allows certain qualified individuals to apply for a National Interest Waiver (NIW). This waiver, if approved, excuses the applicant from the PERM and job offer requirements, allowing them to self-petition without a sponsoring employer. This drastically reduces your EB-2 green card processing time.

If you believe that you qualify for an NIW, contact your immigration attorney to make sure that your case is waterproof and you have the best chance of approval.

How long is the EB-2 Green Card Processing Time?

The EB-2 processing time varies depending on several factors:

The PERM Labor Certification process usually takes six to seven months. However, if your employer is chosen for either a random or targeted audit, this process can be extended to almost two years.

For citizens of certain countries, the longest aspect of the EB-2 green card processing time is usually waiting for your priority date to be current. Each month, the Department of State releases the final action dates in a visa bulletin.

Once your petition’s priority date is current with or earlier than the posted final action date in your category, a visa number will be available and you can either adjust your status or apply for your green card at a consulate or embassy.

Here is a screenshot of the dates for February 2017:

EB-2 Green Card Processing Time Bulletin

Fortunately, the EB-2 priority dates for almost every country are current, meaning that applicants from those countries will immediately be able to obtain their green cards. However, for residents of China and India, their EB-2 green card processing times are November of 2012 and April of 2008 respectively.

Most I-140 petitions take about six months to process. However, if your priority date will not be current for several years, the USCIS will move your petition processing period to align with your priority date. Rest assured that most petitions are processed before their priority date becomes current.

Can The Timeline Be Shortened?

Unfortunately, if you are a foreign professional from China or India, the I-485 wait time cannot be changed or expedited. The only option that remains open is to port your EB-2 status to one that has a more recent final action date.

Porting from EB-2 to EB-1

Fortunately for EB-1 applicants, all of the categories and chargeability countries have final action dates that are current. However, because the requirements for an EB-1 are so difficult to obtain, very few workers are able to make this transfer. In order to port your petition, you must either:

  • Obtain evidence of your extraordinary achievements in your field through published work, widely-recognized awards, or a large salary; or
  • Secure a position as a manager or executive of a U.S. company.

Porting from EB-3 to EB-2

If you are an EB-3 applicant, you may also be able to port your petition to EB-2 status. This can be done if you:

  • Obtain an advanced degree in your field along with a position that requires the advanced degree.
  • Secure a position that requires evidence of exceptional ability in your field.

No matter which green card porting option you choose, the process is relatively simple. All you need to do is have your employer file a second I-140 petition under the new category. If it is approved, it will override the original petition. You can also request to have your priority date retained so that a visa number will be available as soon as your petition is approved.

Premium Processing

The USCIS provides a feature for I-140 petitioners that allows the process to be expedited. If you opt for the Premium Processing Service, you can have your petition processed in 15 calendar days instead of six months for an additional fee.

Note that this feature only expidites the I-140 petition and has no bearing on your priority date. If you must wait several years, then premium processing may not be the best option. Speak with your immigration attorney to learn the specifics of how this feature will impact your case.

How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help

Waiting through the EB-2 green card processing time can be difficult without helpful guidance. By retaining a qualified immigration attorney, you can proceed with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are on the best path to a green card.

The immigration lawyers here at SGM Law Group have spent years helping people optimize their EB-2 processing times. If you would like to get in touch with one of our attorneys, you can contact us to schedule a comprehensive consultation today.