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How International Pilots Strengthen U.S. Aviation: The Importance of EB-1 and EB-2 Visas for Pilots


Pilots contribute to the national interests of the United States

Emily, F. Account Coordinator

Rebecca R., Account Coordinator

Zachary Johnson, PhD., Founding Partner


In this post:





Overview of the U.S. aviation industry


The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Air Traffic Organization (ATO) provides daily service to more than 45,000 flights and 2.9 million airline passengers across more than 29 million square miles of airspace (FAA). Air transport and tourists arriving by air support 6.5 million jobs in the United States, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Additionally, the air transport industry, including airlines and its supply chain, are estimated to support USD$641 billion of GDP in the United States (IATA).


Aviation is thus vital for the U.S. economy and the quality of life of U.S. citizens, transporting millions of passengers for leisure and business every day. Indeed, aviation is recognized by the U.S. government as a critical infrastructure “whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof”(cisa.gov).


While this industry is essential to the U.S. economy, it can be challenging to show how highly qualified pilots and other aviation professionals contribute to the United States of America.


How Can International Pilots Show Their Contributions?


Not long ago, the central argument made by many attorneys to support EB-1 and EB-2 NIW petitions in aviation related to workforce shortages in the United States. For instance, mass layoffs and retirements following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic along with the mandatory retirement age of 65 have resulted in capacity issues that continue to cause flight delays, cancellations, closed flight routes, and other disruptions throughout the aviation industry. 


While these issues remain relevant, attorneys and pilots now need to demonstrate a higher degree of excellence and specificity – even a perusal of top legal contributors on LinkedIn shows that professionals who would have seen an approval just a few years ago may see an RFE or denial.  


With updated standards, petitioners must demonstrate their endeavors in different ways. For instance, we first require all clients to demonstrate that they meet the criteria for an EB-2 NIW visa. Thus, a typical pilot that we work with has over a decade of experience in aviation, FAA licensure or a clear path toward achieving it, letters of recommendation from aviation industry veterans, and an appropriate degree. They also have representation by a talented immigration attorney or case manager, which we believe is essential to their success.


Next, petitioners need to show what makes them special. With our Professional or Immigration Business Plans and  Expert Opinion Letters, the team at ProfVal is fundamentally trying to answer the question: What will this person bring to U.S. airlines that others cannot, which helps the endeavor rise to the level of national importance?


Working with the petitioner and attorney, arguments are more likely to focus on specific elements of a petitioner’s endeavor that relate to areas of national interest. For example, many of the pilots we work with have FAA or other certifications that relate to specific types of airplanes, safety, or other specific needs within the aviation industry that are uncommon. In these cases, these skills relate to acute needs within the industry that might relate to the shortage mentioned earlier, but have a larger impact on other needs in the industry. 


It remains important to focus on these abilities within the context of recent events.  For instance, in addition to this shortage, the U.S. aviation industry has recently seen a spike in safety and maintenance issues (Time Magazine), indicating the need for pilots specializing in safety and experienced aviation maintenance technicians and engineers.


Talented petitioners thus must demonstrate that their endeavors meet the Prongs of Dhanasar and qualify for the EB-2 NIW based on their own documentation. 


ProfVal’s Role in Aviation Petitions


  • ProfVal's team has worked with talented immigration attorneys who have represented hundreds of experienced and qualified pilots, flight instructors, and examiners who are prepared to make vital contributions to the U.S. aviation field. Our team collaborates with these attorneys and petitioners to produce a variety of documents, including: immigration resumes, Professional or Immigration Business Plans, and Expert Opinion Letters.


A Professional or Immigration Business Plan is a document that focuses on a petitioner’s professional narrative.  In aviation, most of the petitioners we work with require Professional Plans, but some may require an Immigration Business Plan:


  • An EB-1 and EB-2 NIW Professional Plan is typically appropriate for aviation professionals who intend to work for airlines, charter aviation companies, or other entities within the aviation industry.  

  • An Immigration Business Plan would be appropriate for an aviation  professional who intends to produce their own business as their endeavor.


In either type of plan, petitioners share their professional background and future intentions with ProfVal so that we can work with them to clarify their endeavors to the USCIS and others.


Over the last few years, the approach to EB-1A and EB-2 NIW petitions in the aviation field has evolved as the needs within this industry have changed.  Thus, we work with experts who hold Ph.D. degrees in aviation and related fields and are faculty members at leading universities. 


These experts work with us to produce Expert Opinion Letters, which are documents that explain in simple terms whether or why a petitioner meets the requirements for the visa they are applying for.  In aviation, for instance, a minimum requirement for the professionals we work with is that a petitioner holds an FAA, FTP, or similar credential.  Sometimes, the experts we work with have made suggestions that lead to modifications of a petitioner’s endeavor in ways that produce greater benefits to the United States of America.



(C) ProfVal 2024


This paper is part of ProfVal’s EB-2 series. Nothing in this article or any other article provided by ProfVal can be construed as legal advice. If a lawyer is quoted within the article, they are providing general comments about the immigration process; their comments cannot be taken as legal advice from them or the firm that they represent. Further, a quote by a lawyer does not indicate their agreement or disagreement with any content within this article. There is no affiliation between ProfVal and any other person or organization cited within this article. 


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ProfVal, LLC (profval.com) is a purpose-driven, professor-founded, and ethically-grounded provider of Expert Opinion Letters that can be used to support employment- and trainee-based visas (H-1B, H-3, L1, EB, O). ProfVal is dedicated to helping clients through services built based on an architecture of research. ProfVal is dedicated to helping our communities through our giving site, profval.org.


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