Permanent Visas: Employment

Exceptional Ability Immigrants

Exceptional Ability ImmigrantsThis category of the Employment Based Second Preference quota is reserved for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. “Exceptional ability” means the applicant has a level of expertise that is significantly above the ordinary level of expertise of people working in the field in the US. Also, the applicant must show that, because of his or her exceptional ability, he or she will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States.” The Exceptional Ability Immigrant must obtain an individual labor certification (and have an employer sponsor), or a “National Interest Waiver” of the labor certification requirement (without an employer sponsor).

In order to be classified as an Exceptional Ability Immigrant, the applicant must provide documentation of three of the following:

  1. An official academic record showing the alien has a degree, diploma, certificate or similar award from a college, university, school or other institution of learning relating to the area of exceptional ability;
  2. Letters documenting at least ten years of full-time experience in the occupation being sought;
  3. A license to practice the profession or certification for a particular profession or occupation;
  4. Evidence that the alien has commanded a salary or other remuneration for services which demonstrates exceptional ability;
  5. Membership in professional associations;
  6. Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, government entities, professional or business organizations.

National Interest Waiver of the Labor Certification Requirement

Approval of the national interest waiver means that the USCIS has determined that it is in the national interest that the applicant not be required to obtain an individual labor certification A National Interest Waiver requests are determined based on evidence that approval of the waiver has been requested by an interested US government agency and the waiver will:

  • Improve the U.S. economy;
  • Improve wages and working conditions of U.S. workers;
  • Improve education and training programs for U.S. children and under-qualified workers;
  • Improve health care;
  • Provide more affordable housing for young and/or older, poorer U.S. residents;
  • Improve the environment of the United States and making more productive use of natural resources


The Immigrant Visa Petition, Form I-140, is filed by the applicant with the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the applicant meets the requirements for adjustment of status, he or she may file an application for adjustment of status, Form I-485 concurrently with the I-140. In the alternative, the applicant may wait until the I-140 has been approved and then proceed with either adjustment of status or consular processing of an immigrant visa.