The aviation industry in the United States is dynamic and competitive, with airlines and private companies continuously seeking skilled pilots to fly their aircraft. For foreign pilots who wish to work in the US, obtaining the right visa is critical to realizing their career aspirations.
One option available to them is the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) Green Card, a program that allows experienced and qualified professionals to live and work in the US permanently.
Below, we will provide an overview of the EB-2 NIW visa program for pilots, including its requirements, application process, advantages, and limitations.
About the USA EB-2 NIW Green Card (Visa Pilot)
The EB-2 NIW Green Card is a permanent residency visa program designed to attract skilled professionals to the US to work and contribute to the country’s economy. This visa program is reserved for individuals who possess exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business and whose work is considered to be in the national interest of the United States.
The program waives the labor certification requirement, allowing eligible individuals to self-petition and apply for a green card directly.
Requirements for Airline Pilots Applying for an EB-2 (NIW) Visa
To qualify for an EB-2 NIW Green Card as a pilot, an applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Exceptional Ability: The applicant must possess exceptional ability in aviation. This may be demonstrated by providing evidence of professional achievements, awards, and recognition, such as licenses, certificates, ratings, flight hours, and leadership roles.
- National Interest: The applicant’s work as a pilot must be considered to be in the national interest of the US. This may be established by demonstrating that the applicant’s work will substantially benefit the US’s national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare.
If you are a member of industry business organizations, such as a pilot professional association, you may have a better chance of having your application granted. Be sure to partner with an attorney with experience in this area who can help you position your application for success.
Eligibility for EB2 Visa for Pilots
In addition to meeting the above requirements, the applicant must also hold the appropriate qualifications and experience as an airline pilot. This includes:
- Education: The applicant must have a bachelor’s or higher degree in aviation, aeronautical engineering, or a related field or the equivalent in experience and training. Relevant academic records will likely be reviewed, and the board will want to see training from comparable institutions to those in the United States.
- Experience: The applicant must have at least five years of progressive experience as an airline pilot and have served in a senior or supervisory capacity for at least one year.
Government entities will look not only at industry education and experience but also at the general background of the applicant and family members. For this reason, be sure to work with a professional who can help you put your application in a position to be successful.
EB2 Visa Application Process for Pilots
The application process for an EB-2 NIW Green Card involves the following steps:
Steps Involved in the Application Process
- Filing Form I-140: The applicant must file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, with the USCIS. The form should accompany supporting documents demonstrating the applicant’s exceptional ability and national interest.
- Waiting for Approval: Once the USCIS receives the petition, it will review the application and make a decision. This may take several months, depending on the workload of the USCIS and the case’s complexity.
- Adjustment of Status: If the petition is approved, the applicant may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to obtain permanent residency status. If the applicant is outside the US, he may apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate abroad.
Supporting Documents Required
The following documents are required to support an EB-2 NIW Green Card application for pilots:
- Proof of exceptional ability in the field of aviation, such as licenses, certificates, ratings, flight hours, and leadership roles.
- Evidence of national interest, such as letters from employers, industry experts, or government officials attesting to the applicant’s contributions and impact on the US economy, culture, or education.
- Educational qualifications, such as transcripts, degrees, and certifications.
- Work experiences include employment letters, tax returns, and pay stubs.
- Passport-style photographs.
- Filing fee is currently $700 for Form I-140 and $1,225 for Form I-485.
While the pilot shortage may increase your chances of getting accepted, you need to work with a legal team with green card experience in this field.
Advantages of EB-2 NIW Program for Experienced Pilots
The EB-2 NIW Green Card program offers several advantages for experienced pilots who wish to work and live in the US permanently, including:
- Self-petitioning: Unlike other employment-based visa programs, the EB-2 NIW Green Card allows eligible individuals to self-petition, meaning they can apply for a green card without an employer’s sponsorship.
- Fast-track to permanent residency: The EB-2 NIW Green Card program waives the labor certification requirement, which is time-consuming and costly. This means eligible individuals can apply for a green card and obtain permanent residency faster than other employment-based visas.
- Flexibility: Once an individual obtains permanent residence through the EB-2 NIW Green Card program, he is not tied to a particular employer or job. The individual can freely work and live in the US and pursue any career opportunities.
Challenges and Limitations of EB2 Visa for Pilots
Despite its advantages, the EB-2 NIW Green Card program also poses several challenges and limitations for pilots who wish to apply for the visa, including:
Limited Number of Visas Available Each Year
The EB-2 NIW Green Card program has an annual cap of 40,000 visas. This means that the number of visas available each year is limited, and they are highly demanded. Pilots who wish to apply for the visa may face intense competition from other applicants and may need to demonstrate exceptional ability and national interest more convincingly than others.
Competition for Job Openings
Even if a pilot obtains a green card through the EB-2 NIW program, he may face fierce competition for job openings in the US aviation industry. The industry is highly competitive, and airlines and private companies may prefer to hire US citizens or permanent residents who do not require visa sponsorship.
Potential for Changes in Immigration Policies
The US immigration policies and regulations are subject to change at any time, and the future of the EB-2 NIW Green Card program may be uncertain. Pilots who apply for the visa may face delays, denials, or changes in the program requirements or eligibility criteria, which could affect their chances of obtaining permanent residency in the US.
How Our Immigration Attorney at Leon Law Firm Can Help You
If you are a pilot who wishes to work and live in the US permanently, the EB-2 NIW Green Card program may be a viable option for you. However, navigating the complex and ever-changing US immigration laws and regulations can be challenging and stressful. That’s where our experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney at Leon Law Firm can help you.
Our attorney can assist you in assessing your eligibility for the EB-2 NIW Green Card program, preparing your application, gathering the necessary supporting documents, and filing the petition with the USCIS. Our attorney can also represent you in any appeals, hearings, or interviews required during the application process and advise you on the best strategies to maximize your chances of success.
Schedule an Initial Consultation With Our EB2 Visa For Pilots Lawyer Today
Suppose you are a pilot who wishes to apply for an EB-2 NIW Green Card or have any questions about the visa program. In that case, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation with our immigration attorney at Leon Law Firm. During the consultation, our attorney will listen to your concerns, assess your eligibility, and provide a clear and honest assessment of your case.
To schedule your consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website. We look forward to helping you achieve your immigration goals and realize your career aspirations in the US.