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Can a Pilot Apply for an Immigrant Visa Under the EB-2 NIW Category?

Yes, It Is Possible.

EB-2 NIW for Pilots

A pilot can apply for an EB-2 immigrant visa with a National Interest Waiver (“NIW”). The EB-2 NIW category is designed for foreign nationals who possess exceptional abilities in their field and whose work is deemed to be in the national interest of the United States.

To qualify for an EB-2 NIW immigrant visa as a pilot, you must first show that you meet the exceptional ability threshold. This can be demonstrated by submitting evidence showing at least 3 of the following:

  • Advanced education or training;
  • Extensive experience in the field (i.e. at least 10 years of experience as a pilot);
  • Valid Federal Aviation Association (“FAA”), International Air Transport Association (“IATA”) or International Civilian Aviation Organization (“ICAO”)  licensure;
  • Recognition for their achievements in the aviation industry from peers, government agencies, professional organizations, or business organizations; 
  • Membership in a professional association or organization for pilots;
  • Receipt of a high salary for your services as a pilot;
  • Significant contributions to the airline industry;
  • Other comparable evidence showing your training and/or experience are special or notable such as management and/or training duties.

If you are able to meet the exceptional ability threshold, you must then establish that you qualify for the waiver of the labor certification process by showing your work is in the national interest of the United States. This can be done by demonstrating that your work will benefit the United States in some way such as:

  • Improving aviation safety;
  • Advancing aviation research and development; and
  • Addressing a shortage of qualified pilots in critical areas.

You need to show that you will make contributions to the aviation field beyond simply working for your employer. These contributions must have a broader impact on the aviation field. Meeting the national interest standard is not easy, but it can be done.

If you can meet all of the requirements for an EB-2 NIW immigrant visa, you can self-petition for a green card without needing an employer sponsor. This can make the EB-2 NIW a very attractive option for pilots who are interested in immigrating to the United States. 

However, if you are not able to meet all of the requirements for an EB-2 NIW immigrant visa, you can pursue a green card through employer sponsorship. Airlines who have a shortage of pilots are able to take advantage of the EB2 – PERM process. 

If you are a pilot who is interested in applying for an EB-2 NIW visa, we would be happy to schedule a consultation with you to discuss your eligibility.


Not sure which option is right for you? Request a confidential consultation today.