EB1A or EB2-NIW Self Petition Green Card Options for Advanced Degree Professionals

There are several ways in which a green card is issued. These include employment-based, family-based, lottery-based, political asylum, and refugee.

Employment-based green cards are generally granted based on the applicant’s permanent employment status or prospects of permanent employment status. EB1 through EB5 refers to employment-based green card application categories.

Among these categories, immigration applicants in two classifications are not required to have a job offer and may self-petition (the worker does not need an employer to sponsor them).

These classifications are:

  1. Individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
  2. Individuals who qualify under the National Interest Waiver (NIW).

These two classifications fall under EB1 and EB2 and are usually referred to as EB1A or E11 (extraordinary ability) and EB2 NIW or E21 (National interest waiver), respectively.

Postdoctoral scholars, PhDs (and some exceptional PhD students) can take advantage of the two classifications for their green card / permanent residency application.

Please note that a PhD is not a requirement in any of these categories. However, having a PhD degree can help your applications because PhDs naturally tend to have significant evidence (such as publications, journal reviews, citations, press releases/media coverage, awards, memberships, etc.) that satisfy the USCIS requirements. Other advanced degree professionals (such as Masters, Bachelors  etc.) with requisite credentials can also take advantage of these self-petition categories.

In addition, as a PhD/advanced degree professional, you can self-petition for your permanent residency in either EB1-A, extraordinary ability or EB2-NIW, National interest waiver categories. Below are some advantages of a self petition.

Advantages of Green Cards Through Self Petition

  • These two categories do not require a sponsorship from an employer.
  • These categories do not require a permanent job offer.
  • Beneficiaries can self-petition, and their application is not tied to any employer.
  • Beneficiaries have great flexibility in changing jobs within their research area.
  • Beneficiaries can bypass the PERM labor certification process, saving them significant time.
  • Beneficiaries can live in the United States or outside the United States at the time of application.

While not specific to self petition, additional advantages of obtaining a green card for a PhD include

  • Beneficiaries may be able to concurrently file, allowing their families to take immediate advantage of employment authorization for job purposes and Advance Parole for travel abroad.

In all the employment categories combined, approximately 140,000 immigrant visas are available each year for primary applicants (plus spouses and children) seeking green cards based on their job skills.

Finding the process confusing? Our DIY packets take the confusion out of the complex green card application process. Take a look today!

Disclaimer: The contents in this web site are only for your information and are not intended to be legal advice. While many of our applicants successfully obtain their I-140 approvals, the information here should not be considered as a guarantee of your green card application outcome.