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Government relaxes some requirements for EB-2 applicants

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Employment-based visas allow companies in Maryland and around the country to fill high-skill positions with foreign nationals when qualified American workers cannot be found, but the challenges facing immigrants who wish to secure permanent residence in the United States based on their qualifications or skills are often extremely difficult to overcome. Rules dating back to 1998 require EB-2 visa applicants who have not been offered a specific job to meet strict national interest criteria, but a Dec. 27 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decision has established new and more flexible guidelines.

The federal agency's Administrative Appeals Office determined that the rules requiring EB-2 applicants to establish that granting them a visa served the national interest were too restrictive. Under the policies put into place by the 1998 decision, these applicants are expected to show that the work they hope to perform is in an area that will provide significant benefits to the United States and is national in scope. This means that visa applicants have to establish that their work will benefit the country as a whole rather than any specific community or area and that hiring an American worker instead could adversely affect the national interest.

In its Dec. 17 decision, the AAO concluded that aspects of these requirements created obstacles not authorized by the nation's immigration laws and denied the officials making these decisions the discretion afforded to them by the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. The new rules allow immigration officials to grant EB-2 visas to applicants when they possess skills and qualifications that would, on balance, be beneficial to the national interests of the United States.

Those who hope to work and live legally in the United States are often baffled and intimidated by the requirements they will be asked to meet, and even seemingly minor errors or omissions could result in their applications being denied. Experienced immigration attorneys may be able to prevent this from happening by ensuring that visa applications are submitted with all required supporting documentation and meet U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services criteria.

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