EB-2’s “Advanced Degree” Sub-Category Explained in Under 1,000 Words

You may have nagging doubts about whether you understand what makes someone, in the context of the employment-based second preference category, an “advanced degree professional.” You may think you understand the phrase, but you may rightly recognize that immigration law is full of terms of art, where there is more than meets the eye.

Is “advanced degree professional” one of these terms of art? Yes, it is. So, let’s break down the phrase.

But, before we do that let’s look at why the phrase matters.

Why the Phrase “Advanced Degree Professional” Matters

Advanced degree professionals are eligible for permanent residence through the EB-2 category. There are only two subcategories of the EB-2 category. One is for people of exceptional ability. The other is for advanced degree professionals. At our firm, most people who seek permanent residence through the EB-2 preference category use their membership do so through their membership in the advanced degree sub-category.

What is the man in Edward Hopper’s “Office in a Small City” thinking? Is he wondering whether his bachelor’s degree and work experience qualifies him for membership in the EB-2 advanced-degree subcategory?

Who a Professional Is

First, let’s look at what makes someone a professional. USCIS regulations define a profession to mean an occupation for which a US bachelor’s degree (or its foreign equivalent) is the minimum requirement for entry in the field. A professional is someone who has such an occupation.

Only immigrants engaged in such a profession with an advanced degree, however, may qualify in the advanced-degree EB-2 subcategory.

But, what is an advanced degree exactly?

What an Advanced Degree Is

An advanced degree is defined by the rules to mean any US academic or professional degree (or a foreign equivalent) above a bachelor’s degree level. This includes master’s degrees, but there is a host of exceptions.

Let’s look at some now. Not all master’s degrees count: master’s degrees from unaccredited institutions do not count. And if a doctoral degree is customarily required by the specialty, the worker must have a US doctorate degree (or its foreign-equivalent).

While those two exceptions shrink the number of people who may qualify in the advanced degree subcategory, the next exception significantly expands the number: the law provides that a bachelor’s degree (or its foreign equivalent) plus at least five years of progressive, post-degree work experience (which may have been gained abroad) in the specialty is the equivalent of a master’s degree.

And there you have it. You now know what makes an advanced degree professional.