EB-3 visa: What to know

Not everyone is eligible for this work visa. Check if you meet the requirements.

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What's Inside

What's Inside

If you’re a foreign national looking to live and work in the United States, there are a few visa options available to you. One such option is the EB-3 visa. This employment-based immigration program provides certain workers a pathway to gain lawful permanent residency within the U.S. But only a specific group of people is eligible for the EB-3 visa.

Use this guide to help you better understand if the EB-3 visa may be right for you. We discuss the requirements, the process and costs of obtaining one and how to transition from EB-3 to green card status.

What is an EB-3 visa?

The EB-3 is an employment-based visa that permits certain foreign nationals to live and work permanently in the U.S. There are three subcategories of the visa: 

  • EB-3(A): Skilled workers
  • EB-3(B): Professionals
  • EB-3(C): Unskilled workers (other workers)

EB-3 visa requirements

An EB-3 visa requires that the worker:

  • Has a permanent, full-time job offer
  • Meets any other requirements specified on the labor certification
  • Performs work for which qualified workers aren’t available in the U.S.

Additional requirements for an EB-3 visa depend on the type of sub-category under which you’re applying. Below is an overview of the eligibility criteria for each.

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EB-3(A): Skilled workers

  • At least two years of job experience, education or training that meets the job requirements specified on the labor certification
  • Relevant post-secondary education may be considered as training

EB-3(B): Professionals

  • Possession of a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent, which is a normal requirement for entry into the occupation
  • Education and experience may not be substituted for a baccalaureate degree

EB-3(C): Unskilled workers (other workers)

  • Demonstration of the ability to perform unskilled labor requiring less than two years of training or experience
  • Work must not be of temporary or seasonal nature

Benefits of the EB-3 visa

The EB-3 visa offers a variety of benefits for foreign workers seeking employment within the U.S. Some of these benefits include: 

  • A pathway to lawful permanent residency, allowing workers to live and work in the country
  • Ability to bring eligible family members with you to the U.S. on derivative visas
  • Employment flexibility, allowing workers to transfer jobs in the same or similar occupational category under certain conditions
  • Potential eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship status through the naturalization process

EB-3 visa application process

The EB-3 visa application process typically requires the involvement of both the worker and the U.S. employer. The general steps are as follows.

1. Issuance of permanent labor certification (PERM)

The first step in the EB-3 process involves the U.S. employer obtaining a permanent labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This certification confirms that there are no qualified U.S. workers available to fill the position being offered to the foreign worker and that the employment of the foreign worker won’t adversely affect the wages or working conditions of other similar employees working in the U.S. 

Approval of the labor certification by the DOL is a prerequisite to the remaining steps in the EB-3 visa process.

2. Form I-140 immigrant petition

After issuance of the approved labor certification, the U.S. employer may file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. Along with this form, the employer must submit evidence showing that the immigrant has the required qualifications for the visa and that the employer can pay the wage offered. 

Importantly, while Form I-140 may be filed at any time, it must be filed before the expiration of the labor certification. The labor certification is valid for 180 days after approval.

3. Adjustment of status or consular processing: EB-3 to green card process

Once U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your Form I-140, you may then proceed with the visa application process. This process allows you to apply for lawful permanent residence status and get a green card. The steps for doing so vary depending on whether you reside inside or outside the U.S.

  • If you’re already in the U.S., you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to gain lawful permanent resident status and obtain your green card. 
  • If you’re outside the U.S., you must go through consular processing. This means you apply at a U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate abroad for an immigrant visa. 

EB-3 visa processing time

While some Form I-140 petitions may be processed and approved in as little as a few months, the entire EB-3 visa process often takes much longer when taking into consideration the other steps, such as applying for lawful resident status after approval of the immigrant petition. Thus, it’s not uncommon for the process to take a year or more from start to finish. You can check current processing times for various immigration forms and applications on the USCIS website.

Keep in mind, EB-3 visa processing times may vary widely from case to case. For example, the processing time in any given application depends on a variety of factors, such as the subcategory of worker your I-140 petition is based on, the location of the worker or petitioner, and the demand and capacity of the USCIS and other government agencies at any given time. 

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EB-3 visa costs

Below are some of the most common current EB-3 visa costs to be aware of: 

  • Form I-140 filing fee: $700
  • Premium processing fee (optional): $2,500
  • Form I-485 filing fee: $1,140
  • Form I-485 biometric services fee: $85
  • Form I-485 fees for additional family members: $750 to $1,225

These fees may change from time to time. Check USCIS for the most up-to-date fee information.

How a lawyer may help

If you have questions about the EB-3 visa application process, you might consider speaking with a lawyer. An experienced immigration lawyer can provide valuable legal knowledge to help you understand and navigate the process and determine which sub-category best matches your qualifications. They may also help you prepare the relevant forms so they meet all the application requirements.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible for an EB-3 visa?

The EB-3 is an employment-based visa that’s available to certain workers based on their employment status. Specifically, “skilled workers” (whose jobs require a minimum of two years of training or experience), “professionals” (whose jobs require at least a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree and are a member of the profession) and “unskilled” or “other” workers (who perform labor requiring less than two years of training or experience) may be eligible for an EB-3 visa.

Can I apply for the EB-3 visa without a job offer?

No, you can’t apply for an EB-3 visa without a job offer. Because the EB-3 is an employment-based visa, an applicant must be able to provide evidence of a job offer for a permanent, full-time position from a U.S. employer to be eligible.

Can I change employers after obtaining an EB-3 visa?

Yes, under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC21), you may be able to change employers after obtaining an EB-3 visa. This is referred to as “portability” under the Act. If eligible, the worker may be able to transfer to a qualifying new job in the same or similar occupational classification as the one for which the original petition was filed. Note, however, that there are a number of factors and requirements that must be met before a worker may change employers and port their petition.

Will my family be able to accompany me on the EB-3 visa?

Yes, your family may be able to accompany you on an EB-3 visa. Upon approval of your I-140 petition, your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for a derivative visa to join you in the United States.

What are the costs of an EB-3 visa?

The initial filing fee for an EB-3 visa is currently $700 to file Form I-140, which must be paid to USCIS. However, other costs may arise depending on your needs. For example, if you request premium processing, there’s an additional $2,500 fee. And after your Form I-140 is approved, you face fees in connection with Form I-485 to obtain your green card, which usually costs $1,140, plus $85 for the biometric services fee.

Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

This page includes links to third party websites. The inclusion of third party websites is not an endorsement of their services.

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