The EB-3 Visa Explained

Updated on April 24, 2024

Thousands of immigrants get their green card through EB-3. It is one of the major employer sponsored green card types for immigrants who are not able to qualify for EB-1 and EB-2. You can be one of the 40,0000 immigrants that could get this EB-3 visa. I’ve seen many people apply and receive EB-3 visas. I will walk you through the details of this visa, what it is, how to apply, the requirements, and processing time.

At a Glance

  • The EB-3 visa is an employment-based green card allowing skilled, professional, or other workers to live and work in the United States.
  • It is less strict compared to the EB-1 and EB-2 categories, with around 40,000 visas awarded annually.
  • The employer must go through the PERM process to apply for the visa, and family members can accompany the EB-3 holder.
  • The visa has specific requirements like PERM Labor Certification before filing for I-140. The processing time for an EB-3 visa application can range from 1 to 3 years and has been increasing recently.

What Is an EB-3 Visa?

An EB-3 visa is a green card for workers, more specifically for professional, skilled, or other workers. It is an employment-based green card, and it is the third preference for such visas. Just like the other two categories (EB1 and EB2), this one allows immigrants like us to live in the United States, but also to work in a specific field.

To be eligible for this visa, you need to be employed in a job that asks for things such as 2 years’ experience or training, a baccalaureate degree or an equivalent of it, or sometimes below 2 years of experience in order to be proficient.

The difference between the EB-3 visa and the first two preferences is that it is not as strict as the previous ones. The EB1 and EB2 visas tend to be quite stringent, but this is not the case with the EB-3 one. Every year, there are around 40,000 EB-3 visas awarded to people. But, no more than 7% of approved EB-3 visas can go toward the same people from any given country.

According to Gopalan, nurses from Philipinnes have a high demand for EB-3 visas. Not as many Indian nationals apply for EB-3 visas. Even if they do, they will have a longer wait time because of country quota.

EB-3 Visa Requirements

The good thing is that the EB-3 visa doesn’t have such strict requirements in comparison to other green cards like the EB1, for instance. A lack of as high of a bar also means that you are more likely to get this visa. The only downside is that there will probably be an approval waiting list.

The priority date of the petitioner should be current in order to have the EB-3 visa application changed from non-immigrant (temporary). The start of the Labor Certification Process will be the one setting the petitioner’s priority date.

In order to apply for this visa successfully, an employer has to:

  • Make sure that they afford the position they offer after granting this employment visa
  • File form I-140
  • Show evidence that the beneficiary of the application meets all the requirements

In order to qualify for an EB-3 visa, per USCIS, there are a few routes that the worker should take:

  • Skilled Worker – For this category, you must have at least 2 years of relevant employment training or experience. The Labor Certification Process will also be necessary in order to show that there are no eligible workers in the U.S. already who may be able to fill the position themselves.
  • Professionals – For the professional position, you must have a baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent.
  • Unskilled Workers – The unskilled or “other” workers category includes positions that can be performed even if you doesn’t have two years of training or experience. Seasonal or temporary jobs are excluded, though.

Labor Certification Process

The PERM Labor Certification process is required with every single EB-3 visa petition. During PERM, the prospective employer will be required by the U.S. Department of Labor to take a test. This test will help demonstrate that there are no qualified or willing workers already in the U.S who may be able to work the same job.

During the process, a few things will happen. An advertisement will be posted in a big newspaper on consecutive Sundays, and the relevant State Workforce Agency will also be announced about the open position. On top of that, the job ad will be posted in a conspicuous place on the website and the worksite of the company. Three other different recruitment processes will also apply based on the regulations.

Everything that happens during the EB-3 visa process should be recorded by the employer. Having an experienced immigration attorney during the process is also recommended for the employer, as he/she may offer the right guidance to make the process go right.

Sometimes, in exceptional cases, petitions can be sent directly to the USCIS, with no labor certification required.

Application Process

The application process for EB-3 visa has a few steps:

  • Labor certification – your employer needs to get PERM certification (if not already done). This is to prove that they can’t find a suitable American citizen for the same position.
  • I-140 Petition – Your employer has to file a Form I-140 with USCIS, as they are the petitioners for your visa. Your employer should be able to prove that they can pay the wage offered for the job as of the priority date.
  • Form DS-261 – Form DS-261 (filed online) lets you choose your address and agent and tells the US Embassy in your home country that you are applying for an EB-3 visa. After you submit the form, you’ll get a confirmation notice. You must have this notice before you can schedule a visa appointment at the US Embassy near you.
  • Medical – You have to get a medical exam through an NVC (National Visa Center) approved doctor. You can also show your previous vaccination and health records to the doctor. If you don’t have appropriate vaccinations, you may need to get those.
  • Visa application – After you file form DS-261, you will submit all your documents and application to the US Embassy.

After you file your application, you will be called for an interview and after everything is done, your visa application may be approved.

If approved, EB-3 green is valid for up to 10 years like EB1 and EB2. There are no differences between the green cards approved through these different processes.

Read More: Learn more about the green card application with our guide to Green Card Steps & Processing Times.

EB-3 Visa Fees

The visa fees are similar to other types of green cards. I reviewed the fees but they could change in the future.

The visa petition fee was $700 back in 2019. If you want to opt for premium processing as well, the fee for it will be as much as $1,410. A visa application fee may also be required if you come from overseas, and this will cost $345.

If you are already in the U.S. legally and can adjust your status already, the application fee for Form I-485 may be around $1,225.

While these are the main fees, bear in mind that other things like airfare, medical exam, vaccinations, and U.S. consulate transportation may come with some costs as well.

EB-3 Visa Processing Time

EB3 visas have generally longer processing times than other green card or visa options. It may take between 1 and 3 years for the application to be processed.

According to some EJ, EB-3 visas can take months or even years to process because of backlog of applications.

As shown below, some people believe that EB-3 processing times will soon hit 5 years because of the backlog.

Based on another user, if you filed your PERM in Feb 2023, per Nov 2023 bulletin, you should expect Green Card approval by the end of 2025, approximately 3 years.

If your employer has not gone through a PERM Certification process, they will have to get that completed before applying for your EB-3 visa.

Family of EB-3 Holders

Those who obtain an EB-3 visa can also bring some of their families along with them. A legal spouse will have access to the E34 or EW4 visa, whereas an unmarried child under 21 years old will usually come under the E35 or EW5 visa. E34 and E35 are visas for skilled workers, and the EW4 and EW5 visas are for the “other” worker categories.

The spouse has the opportunity to apply for an Employment Authorization Document while the permanent residency application process is still unfolding. This will give them the chance to freely work in the United States.

If you are looking for a laywer for the EB-3 visa, we can help you connect to one. They evaluate your profile for free and work with your employer to file. If the employer doesn’t have PERM certification, they can also help with that.

Read More

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the EB-3 Visa?
The EB-3 Visa is a U.S. employment-based immigrant visa category designed for foreign workers who are seeking permanent residency (Green Cards) in the United States through employment. It is part of the employment-based immigration system and includes three subcategories, each with its specific eligibility criteria.

What are the three subcategories of the EB-3 Visa?
The EB-3 Visa has three subcategories:

  • EB-3A: Skilled Workers: This category is for foreign workers with at least two years of job experience or training in a skilled occupation.
  • EB-3B: Unskilled Workers (Other Workers): This category is for foreign workers in positions that require less than two years of training or experience.
  • EB-3C: Special Immigrant Religious Workers: This category is for foreign nationals who are religious workers coming to the U.S. to work in a religious capacity.

What are the key eligibility criteria for the EB-3 Visa?
The eligibility criteria for each subcategory of the EB-3 Visa are as follows:

  • EB-3A (Skilled Workers):
    • You must have a job offer for a permanent, full-time position that requires at least two years of training or experience.
    • You must possess the necessary skills and experience for the job.
    • Labor certification is typically required, which involves your employer demonstrating the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers for the position.
  • EB-3B (Unskilled Workers or Other Workers):
    • You must have a job offer for a permanent, full-time position that requires less than two years of training or experience.
    • Labor certification is typically required, similar to the EB-3A category.
  • EB-3C (Special Immigrant Religious Workers):
    • You must be coming to the U.S. to work in a religious capacity for a bona fide, non-profit religious organization.
    • There are specific requirements for religious workers, including a two-year membership requirement with the religious organization.

What is the labor certification process for the EB-3 Visa?
The labor certification process, also known as PERM (Program Electronic Review Management), is a crucial step for most EB-3 Visa applicants. It involves your U.S. employer demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available to fill the job position you are being offered. The employer must go through a recruitment process and file a labor certification application with the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

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