Approval and denial rates for EB-2 green card petitions (I-140)
The EB-2 approval rate is high, an average of 93%, according to USCIS data. Depending on the year, the I-140 approval rate for this employment-based green card category oscillates between 83 and 96%. When looking at specific approval EB-2 approval rates for petitioners from India and China the numbers are very similar. The denial rate for India is only 6%, while only 4% of Chinese-born applicants are rejected. These are the two countries with the highest number of applicants.
Table 1: I-140 Approval rate for fiscal years 2009-2019 for EB-2 category
What about the EB-2 NIW approval rate?
Unfortunately, USCIS does not break down the EB-2 data to further sub-categories. Therefore, it is not possible to know the exact EB-2 NIW approval rate. However, it is reasonable to think that the approval rate for the National Interest Waiver case is lower than for the general EB-2 category. This is because the required standards for EB2 NIW are higher than for the general category. For National Interest Waiver petitions, the applicant does not need a sponsor but has to show that their endeavor aligns with the United States’ national interest.
To have a better estimate for the EB-2 approval rate specific to National Interest Waiver cases, we can look at the EB-1 category. The EB-1 category is for individuals with extraordinary abilities. There are some similarities between the EB-2 NIW and the EB-1 category. Specifically, for both EB-1A and EB-2 NIW the applicant can self-petition. In other words, there is no need for a sponsor or employer. In addition, both categories attract the focus of very qualified workers seeking to obtain permanent residency. Since EB-1 applicants need to meet a higher bar, it is reasonable to think that the approval rates are lower than for EB-2 NIW.
EB-1 approval rates
The EB-1 approval rate is about 80% on average, according to data from USCIS. However, there is a significant variability depending on the year. Between the years 2009 and 2019, the approval rate for I-140 in this category fluctuated between 51% and 89%. This is a big variation compared to the 13 points oscillation for the EB-2 category! However, most of this variability comes from the very low approval rating observed for the year 2019, which seems an outlier. Similar to the EB-2 data, the EB-1 approval rates for Indian and Chinese nationals are similar to the overall pool.
Table 2: I-140 Approval rate for fiscal years 2009-2019 for EB-1 category
Estimating the approval rate for EB-2 NIW applications
The approval rates for the general EB-1 and EB-2 categories are 81 and 93%, respectively. Therefore, we can estimate that the approval rate for the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) is between 81 and 93%.
Even though these numbers look very favorable as only about 15% of the applications appear to be denied, it is important to remember that the USCIS officers decide on each application on a case-by-case basis. As we covered in our blog post “EB2 NIW application mistakes to avoid“, you need to make sure your case is solid and stop thinking too much about other people’s cases and outcomes.
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