This preference category is for those with an advance degree or for those with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Those who can show their work is in the national interest may be able to waive the labor certification process.

The second preference category requires an advanced degree or exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.

An advanced degree is at least a Master’s degree, or in some cases, a Bachelor’s degree plus at least five years of work experience.  The advance degree or its equivalent must be required by the job offered.

Exceptional ability requires a level of expertise that is significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business. If the applicant can establish that his or her employment in the United States would benefit the nation, the applicant may apply for a National Interest Waiver, which would waive the labor certification requirement and allow the applicant to self-petition. Examples of work that may qualify for a National Interest Waiver include medical research, national defense work, and so forth.

There is also a second exception to labor certification within this category for Schedule A occupations.  Schedule A occupations are considered pre-certified, as the Department of Labor has found there is shortage of qualified workers for such occupations.  The labor certificate can therefore be directly filed with U.S. Citizenship Services with the petition and green card application, making the application process much shorter.  Schedule A occupations include physical therapists, professional nurses, and persons of exceptional ability in science or the arts including college and university teachers.

With the exception of those granted a National Interest Waiver, a job offer is required for this preference category. The employer must obtain certification from the Department of Labor and must also file a petition on the alien employee’s behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, unless the applicant qualifies for a National Interest Waiver or has a Schedule A occupation.