Green Card for Workers with Masters' Degrees


Immigration Desk helps US employers file green cards for their professional employees with Masters' degrees who are working in long-term positions.

EB-2 Masters' Degree holders

Basics and Benefits of the EB-2 Green Card

Most of the employment-based green cards filed are in either EB-2 or EB-3 categories. Most EB-2 green cards are filed for the information technology, engineering, scientific, finance, education or health care industries, or for licensed professions.

Even though filing for an EB-2 employment-based green card is a lengthy process, that can end up taking many years to complete, this is a sure way of getting a green card for foreign nationals with jobs requiring high-skills or master’s degrees in specialized fields.

Most foreign nationals with master’s degrees (or who possess 5 years of experience after a bachelor’' degree) who qualify for H-1B temporary work visas also qualify for EB-2 green cards.

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Eligibility Criteria

US companies can sponsor their foreign national employee for an EB-2 green card if the foreign national has either an advanced degree or exceptional ability. The US employer must sponsor the foreign national employee, the foreign national cannot sponsor himself.

Advanced Degree

  • The job requires a master’s or a professional degree
  • The foreign national possesses an advanced degree. If the foreign national does not have a master’s degree, but has a bachelor’s degree, they must also have over 5 years of job experience after completing their bachelor's degree
  • If the profession requires a license, the foreign national must possess the professional license also

Exceptional Ability

The foreign national has exceptional ability if they can meet at least 3 of these criteria:

  • The appropriate education for the profession
  • Over 10 years of professional experience
  • A professional license if one is required
  • A high salary
  • Membership in a professional association
  • Professional recognition for contribution to the field
  • The employer must also show that they cannot find a local US worker
  • That the employer can afford to pay the foreign national a salary comparable to what other US workers in that industry earn in their locality.
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The Filing Process

To get an EB-2 green card, the US employer files a petition on behalf of their foreign national employee. Obtaining a green card through the employer is a 3-part process:

  • A PERM application is filed with the Department of Labor. First the employer requests the Department of Labor to confirm the wage that should be paid for that job. Then the employer conducts a test of the local labor market to prove to the Department of Labor that the employer cannot find a US worker to fill their job position. (See here, link to PERM page.)
  • Filing Without PERM:
    Sometimes a test of the job market is not needed because the shortage in that industry is already known. For these positions, a PERM application does not need to be filed. There are 2 situations where we can file an EB-2 green card without first filing for PERM.
    • Schedule A Occupations: Some positions, such as nurses and physical therapists are in such a shortage nationwide that a labor market test does not need to be performed.
    • EB-2 Exceptional Ability Individuals: If the foreign national’s work is exceptional, we want them in the US. For exceptional professionals, we can file for an EB-2 green card without filing for a PERM application first. See here (link to NIW page).
  • An I-140 Petition is Filed with the USCIS
    After the Department of Labor certifies the PERM application, the employer files an I-140 petition with the USCIS requesting permission to hire the foreign candidate for the position. At this stage, the USCIS will decide whether the foreign national has the qualifications to perform the job. The USCIS also makes sure that the employer is able to pay the wage rate that is prevailing for the job in that area.
  • Foreign National Files I-485 / CP
    The last step to get a green card approved is for the foreign national to prove that he is the type of person we want in the US. The government screens the foreign national’s background and personal history very carefully. People with criminal behavior, who have entered the US illegally, have connection to terrorist organizations or certain diseases can be denied green cards. If the foreign national is in the US, they file an adjustment petition (I-485) with the USCIS. If they are overseas, they file for consular processing with the Department of State (US consulate). Click here to read in-depth information on I-485 and consular processing.
    • Delay in Processing. There are several quotas for green cards each year. Each employment-based category has a quota. In addition, there are also limits on how many green cards are issued to nationals of different countries. Once the quota for that year is met, the government waits till the next year to process the remaining cases that have been filed. This creates a backlog for countries from where a lot of people are immigrating. For foreign nationals from Mexico, China, India and Philippines, it takes many years, sometimes over 10 years to complete this last step to get a green card.
  • Green cards issued in this category are usually valid for 10 years and can be extended.
  • Green card holders can file for citizenship 5 years after obtaining their green cards.
  • Spouses and minor children get their green cards along with the foreign national.
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How We Can Help

Proving an EB-2 Case

Our EB-2 clients are almost always US employers filing for a foreign national they already employ. Most of the foreign nationals have an H-1B or another work visa.

Though the EB-2 petition is one of the most common employment-based green-card, the petition must be drafted carefully. When filing for an EB-2, we need to maintain a careful balance when drafting a job description. We must prove that the employer’s job description is what is minimally required to do the job. The job description cannot mirror what the employee is doing if the employee received training to do the job. The job description also cannot have higher requirements just to show the government that the employer needs the foreign national. At the same time, if the job duties are entry-level, a lot of US workers will apply for the job during the PERM stage. If the employer finds even one US worker who qualifies, the green card cannot be filed.

Similarly, the employee’s background and qualifications have to be vetted thoroughly to make sure they met the job requirements before they joined the employer. If a US employee can be trained within a reasonable time to perform the job, the employer cannot continue to file the green card for the foreign national.

In cases where it takes many years to finally file I-485, it is important that the employer continue to employ the foreign national at the wage determined by the Department of Labor, or that the employer continues to have sufficient income or assets to prove that they can pay the foreign national’s wage.

It is also crucial for an attorney to know the processing time of each step of the process. Foreign nationals on most work visas have limits to how long they can work on their visas. If the green card is not filed on time, the foreign national’s work visa may expire and they may be forced to either leave the United States or change to an expensive visa to stay.

There are a host of different details, such as those mentioned above, that must be verified for a successful EB-2 filing.

The Immigration Desk Solution

With over 2 decades of experience, we have handled almost every possible EB-2 scenario. As your attorneys, our aim is to help you obtain a green card with minimal disruption to your life, whether you are an employer or a foreign national. We help mid- to large-sized employers file green cards for multiple employees simultaneously. We also represent small business owners who are filing green cards for a single employee. We understand that larger employers want to have minimal disruption to their day by the legal demands of the filing. For a small business, where each employee is critical to their business success, getting the case approved fast is essential.

When you let us know that your green card needs to be started, we review the file in great detail, so we can advise you of what you should be doing when, mindful of the government’s processing times, which change frequently. This helps the foreign national to continue to work on their temporary work visa without having to leave the country. We also discuss the employers financial obligations, and the foreign nationals qualifications so there are no surprises. This in-depth review helps us identify any problems that may arise and to solve them before the green card petition is started. We also provide a schedule of all costs associated with the process so there are no surprises.

With a team of over 50 trained paralegals, our team is proficient in helping you collect documents, meet timelines, and help HR departments streamline the process, so it’s easy, straightforward, and cost-efficient. Our team takes great pride in helping you file flawless petitions that get approved quickly and painlessly.

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