What is the EB-3 Visa?

Do you have a job and an employer lined up in the United States, but don’t quite meet the requirements for an EB-1 or EB-2 visa?

If you do not find yourself qualified to apply for an EB-1 or EB-2 visa, a third preference, the EB-3 visa, allows certain skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers to still potentially qualify for an employment based visa and lawfully reside and work within the United States. So what makes these categories different than the professionals and skilled workers in the EB-1 and EB-2 categories? The good news is the EB-3 visa lessens the higher level educational requirements demanded in the EB-1 and EB-2 categories, and under the “other workers” category, the EB-3 visa lets in jobs in more vocational areas. However, because the educational and professional qualifications are reduced, the wait to obtain this visa and backlog of applicants is extremely long; especially for certain nationalities. You must also have an employer sponsor you with a full time job offer, a labor certification, and prove that there are no qualified United States citizen workers who are eligible for the position. Professional, Skilled, and Unskilled Worker Categories There are three categories of workers eligible for an EB-3 Visa:

  1. EB-3(A): This category of ‘skilled workers’ requires at least two years of work training or experience for a minimum entry position in the field, as well as a job offer in the United States that is neither seasonal or temporary.
  2. EB-3(B): this category of ‘professional workers’ requires a U.S. baccalaureate degree (or its foreign equivalent) and a job offer in the United States.
  3. EB-3(C): This category of ‘other workers’ is for unskilled workers in a field that requires less than two years of experience, and a permanent, not seasonal, position in the United States.

Jobs in the EB-3(A) category can include certain types of technical workers, or specialized work such as chefs, construction managers, stonemasons, craftsmen, journalists or graphic designers. Jobs in the EB-3(B) category can include lawyers, architects, engineers, and professors. Jobs in the EB-3(C) category usually includes, but is not limited to, nannys, caretakers, janitors, housekeepers, and certain construction workers. Only 10,000 visas are allocated to this category each year causing a longer wait time for applicants. 

What is the Application Process Like and How Long Will It Likely Take? 

In order to successfully receive an EB-3 visa, there are a few steps you and your employer must take. Specifically for the EB-3 Category visas, you must first have an employer and full time job offer in the United States. Second, the employer must submit a PERM Labor Certification to the Department of Labor verifying that they have advertised the position and there are no U.S. citizen workers eligible, or able for the position. The employer must also show that the wage assigned to the position is consistent with current wages for that position in the United States. Third, upon approval of these PERM labor certifications, the employer must file the visa petition (I-140) and upon acceptance by the USCIS you will receive your priority date and are eligible to file the I-485 Application for Permanent Residence or Consular Processing of an Immigrant Visa Form. 

So Let’s Talk About the Time Frame of the Steps to Receive your EB-3 Visa: A PERM Labor Certification verification can take anywhere from 6-9 months or even longer. The United States Department of Labor recommends beginning the PERM advertising process no fewer than 30 days, and no later than 180 days prior to filing the application. Once the PERM certificate has been approved, the employer must then file the I-140 form (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) to be approved by the USCIS. In order to speed up this process, the employer can pay a $1000 expedition fee and the I-140 will be processed within 15 days. If your employer does not pay the expedition fee, this process also averages a 6 month wait time. The final step in this process is filing an I-485 Application for Permanent Residence or Consular Processing of an Immigrant Visa at the US Consulate Abroad. The I-485 cannot legally be filed until the U.S. State Department approves the petitioners priority dates and this date is determined by the monthly Visa Bulletin. The Visa Bulletin and priority date balance the type of visa with the nationality of the petitioner to create the priority date for the applicant. With a “current” priority date you are officially off the visa waiting list and eligible to obtain your visa or adjust your status.

Any visa within the EB-3 category are considered “green card” visas and are subject to an annual cap. Along with this annual cap of all “green card” employment visas, there is also a nationality cap in which no more than 7% of the visas in each category can go to any single nationality. This category of employment based visas generally has a longer wait time, especially if you are an Indian or Chinese citizen. When a country has exceeded its 7% max annually, especially if this occurs year after year, it creates a backlog in an applicant from that nationalities’ priority date wait time.  

Please check the monthly Visa Bulletin to see whether your nationality is current, or to see the general wait time, if not. If you are a Chinese or Indian citizen, click here to read more about your specific issues with the EB-3 visa. Keep in mind, a qualified Immigration Attorney can research and help present your best immigration options, given your nationality, educational level, type of job, and potential wait time.

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