If you are an experienced foreign national pilot interested in working in the United States, you may be eligible to apply for the EB2 National Interest Waiver (EB2 NIW) Program. The EB-2 NIW visa grants successful applicants and their qualifying family members a permanent residency status (Green Card) in the United States. The Leon Law Immigration pilot attorney team has a high approval rate with EB2 for pilots. Read on to learn whether you qualify to continue your professional flying career in the United States.
What is an EB-2 NIW?
The EB-2 is an employment-based visa for professionals with exceptional ability or an advanced degree. There are three categories for EB-2 visas: EB-2 A: Advanced Degree, EB-2 B: Exceptional Ability, and EB-2C: National Interest Waiver. EB-2 A and B petitions require a labor certification, and you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer. Most commercial airlines and other aviation-industry employers have not been willing to go to the added expense and work of going through this process to hire foreign pilots. However, U.S. airlines are willing to hire foreign pilots if they can obtain green cards via the EB2 NIW.
The EB-2 NIW Program allows an experienced foreign national to “self-petition” without employer sponsorship or a labor certification. By applying for an NIW, you are requesting that the labor certification be waived because it is in the national interest of the United States to do so. The USCIS (the Citizenship and Immigration Service) has recognized that there is a shortage of qualified pilots in the United States right now. The USCIS knows that commercial aviation is a critical component of our national economy and that it is in the national interest of the U.S. to have a highly qualified workforce of pilots available for hire.
Requirements: Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability
To qualify for the EB-2 NIW for pilots, you must first meet the eligibility criteria and establish that your work is in the national interest. The foundational requirement for all EB-2 visas is that you have an advanced degree or exceptional ability in your field.
As a pilot, you may qualify for an EB-2 NIW visa if you have a Master’s degree in aviation or a Bachelor’s degree (plus five years of work experience) in aviation or a related field from a U.S. institution or a foreign equivalent degree. If you don’t have a degree, you can still qualify based on “exceptional ability.” Although this may sound like a very high standard, it is relatively easy for many highly experienced foreign pilots to meet.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines exceptional ability as someone with a “degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered” in their field of expertise.
The pilot must meet at least three of these legal requirements (the more that are applicable, the better):
- At least ten years of full-time experience as a pilot.
- Academic record showing a degree or diploma from a university or college related to the aviation industry.
- A license or certification that allows you to practice your profession.
- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or remuneration that demonstrates exceptional ability.
- Membership in professional associations.
- Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your field.
- Other comparable evidence (anything that makes your experience or training noteworthy, including management duties).
Even if you don’t have a lengthy list of accomplishments or awards, the exceptional ability can often be proven by getting letters of reference/recommendation from fellow aviation professionals who can attest to your “exceptional” ability.
Your job is to provide us with all the documentation establishing the criteria above. Our pilot attorney team at Leon Law Immigration will tell you precisely what you need. If any documents need to be translated or sent for evaluation, we will explain how to do that or take care of it for you. We will provide detailed guidance for your references on what to include in their recommendation letters.
Demonstrating National Interest
If you meet the basic eligibility criteria for an EB2 NIW for Pilots, your petition must demonstrate that your work is in the national interest. The legal factors that the USCIS considers for an NIW include the following:
- The proposed endeavor (the job you intend to perform in the United States) has substantial merit and national importance.
- You are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.
- The U.S. will benefit from waiving the requirements of the job offer (and the labor certification).
Our job at Leon Law Immigration is to convince the USCIS that granting your petition is in the “National Interest.” To do this, we compile a complete package of documents supporting your petition, including a comprehensive legal memorandum and a personalized report from a respected aviation industry expert, explaining how you meet these factors based on your individualized background and experience.
Ready to Apply?
To apply for an EB-2 NIW for Pilots, you must file a Form I-140 with extensive supporting documents. It is important to understand that NIWs are a matter of discretion for USCIS. They are not required to grant them just because you may appear to meet the minimum qualifications. So, we cannot guarantee that your petition will be approved. However, experience has shown that a well-written, well-supported petition is very likely to be approved. Our experienced pilot attorney team at Leon Law Immigration, with their high approval rate, will guide you every step of the way and maximize your chances for success.
Call or visit us online for a assessment.