Complete Guide to Interfiling EB3 and EB2

Posted by | Updated on August 25, 2022

The process of applying for lawful permanent residence (a green card) in the U.S. has a lot of requirements. One of these requirements is that your application must fall into a particular category when you file. After filing your employment-based application, you may want to change the category. If so, you will need to understand interfiling EB3 to EB2. Read on to learn more about interfiling in general.

What is Interfiling?

When you are applying for a lawful permanent resident card (green card), your application is based on a particular category. For example, it could be employment-based or family-based, if your spouse is a U.S. citizen.

If you filed your green card application based on one category, but you would later like to change the basis, there is a process to do so. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) calls this process a ‘change of underlying basis’ for your application. However, most people call it ‘interfiling’.

Petitions that Support I-485 Adjustment of Status Applications

When you file a Form I-485, your application must be supported by a petition. Your sponsor must file a Form I-140 or Form I-130 petition with the USCIS.

If you change the basis of your application, you cannot use the petition associated with your previous filing basis. For example, when interfiling EB3 to EB2, you will need a new petition related to your new job.

Who is Eligible to Interfile?

When interfiling EB3 to EB2, you have to be eligible under the new category while your I-485 application is pending. In other words, you are not eligible for interfiling EB3 to EB2 if your EB2 eligibility will only be in the future. The eligibility for the EB visas category is outlined below:

  • EB-1: People with extraordinary ability, outstanding academic professionals and executives of multinational companies. 
  • EB-2: People with advanced degrees or exceptional ability (check out the guide to the EB2 visa here)
  • EB-3: Skilled professionals and other workers (you can find the guide to the EB3 visa here). 

You are eligible to interfile EB3 to EB2 if, for example, you were previously a skilled worker and currently hold an advanced degree. If you are still studying, or do not qualify as having exceptional ability in your field, then you cannot interfile in that way.

The same eligibility requirements apply when interfiling from employment-based to a family-based application. You must be eligible, while your I-485 is still being processed.

You are required to prove your eligibility when interfiling while your I-485 is pending. If you are unable to, your interfiling request will probably be denied.

3 Ways to Interfile While an I-485 Application is Pending

One of the reasons that people decide to try interfiling is that, in some cases, it can speed up the permanent residence application process. There are three different ways that you can go about interfiling. These are outlined below with examples.

  1. Employment-based to family-based: If you married a U.S. citizen after applying for a green card based on your job, you might get one sooner if you change the underlying basis of your application to family-based, based on your marriage. This is especially true if you previously applied under the EB-3 category.
  2. Family-based to employment-based: If you applied for a green card based on marriage with a U.S. citizen, you can change the basis of your application to employment-based if you are no longer married to that person.
  3. Employment-based to employment-based: Interfiling to a different employment category can help speed up the process. This is because EB-2 category applications tend to be processed faster than those in the EB-3 category.

Converting an EB3 I-485 to an EB2 I-485 for Faster Processing

Interfiling EB3 to EB2 could decrease the time it takes for your application to be processed. This is because the USCIS receives a lot more EB-3-based applications per year than EB-2-based ones. As a result, there is not as much of a backlog of EB-2 visa applications. Where EB-3 applicants may have to wait several years for an adjustment of status, EB-2 applicants generally get a result sooner.

However, it is important to note that you must already be eligible under the EB-2 criteria (and have proof) when you make an interfiling request. Your employer must also file a new petition on your behalf based on your EB-2 category employment.

Priority Date and Interfiling

Generally, the petition priority date associated with your I-485 application does not change when a new petition is filed for interfiling. However, when interfiling EB3 to EB2 employment-based applications, the priority date is transferred to the new petition associated with the EB-2 category.

I-485 Interfiling Processing Time

The processing times for I-485 applications vary widely, but they are usually quite long. Receiving an adjudication on adjustment of status can take anywhere from one to ten years. In some family-based categories, the wait time may be longer still. 

Interfiling is an extra processing step, so it can potentially lengthen the time it takes for your application to be processed. That is why it is important when interfiling to make sure that you choose a category with faster processing times. For example, interfiling EB3 to EB2 is likely to shorten the time to get a result because EB-2 applications have higher priority.

I-485 Interfiling FAQ

The following questions frequently come up when discussing the process of interfiling EB3 to EB2.

Does USCIS Have to Grant an Interfiling/Transfer Request?

No. The USCIS is not required to treat interfiling in any particular way. Rather, the internal policy of the agency is what guides interfiling decisions. The USCIS takes a few things into account:

  • The reason for your interfiling request (e.g. divorce, change of employment)
  • Whether you have documents to prove your eligibility 
  • How hard it would be to figure out if you are eligible while your I-485 application is pending
  • Whether changing the basis would require extra processing steps.

Based on these reasons and others the USCIS will grant or deny your interfiling request.

What Happens if USCIS Denies an I-485 Interfiling?

If the USCIS denies your interfiling request, your application could continue being processed on the original basis. However, you could also be required to file a new I-485 application.

However, it is important to note that the USCIS allows you to file more than one I-485 application, at the same time, based on different categories. So, depending on the details of your situation, you may not need interfiling at all. You could submit a new I-485 application while your original one is still pending. 

There are important conditions to keep in mind when filing a simultaneous I-485 application, so make sure to understand them fully before filing anything.

The green card application process can be confusing, so it can be very helpful to talk to an immigration lawyer before making any major decisions or filing any documents.

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Final Thoughts 

Interfiling EB3 to EB2 means changing the basis for your green card application from one category to another. The main reason to do this is that higher-priority visa categories tend to be processed faster. However, there is no guarantee that the USCIS will grant an interfiling request. It is helpful to talk to an immigration lawyer before making any decisions so you can understand your options.

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