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Unfortunately, obtaining a green card through employment is often a lengthy and arduous process. The EB2 and EB3 green card categories are two of the most common ways to get immigrant visas through employment. Still, for most applicants, the process can be quite complicated. It’s usually best navigated by an experienced immigration attorney well-versed in the requirements and the immigration system.
What is an EB2 Green Card?
An EB2 green card is one type of employment-based green cards available to professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their occupational field in the arts, sciences, or business.
To be eligible for this second-preference employment-based visa, you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer and an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL).
The labor certification process, or PERM, is designed to ensure that there aren’t any qualified U.S. workers willing and able to do the job that the U.S. employer is offering to the foreign worker.
What is Exceptional Ability?
Exceptional ability refers to any individual with enhanced ability in their respective field, proven through awards, work experience, or other evidence. The EB2 visa is also available to those who intend to work in the national interest of the U. S., including healthcare professionals who will work in under-resourced areas.
What is an EB3 Green Card?
An EB3 is another type of employment-based green card. This third-preference employment-based visa is available to skilled workers, professionals, and other workers.
Under immigration laws, skilled workers have at least two years of experience in their field. In contrast, professionals have a bachelor’s degree or higher in their field. Other workers are unskilled workers who have at least two years of experience in their field.
Similar to an EB2, to qualify for an EB3 green card, you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer and an approved labor certification from the DOL.
How Does an EB3 Green Card Differ from an EB2 Green Card?
Both EB2 and EB3 result in permanent residency (employment-based green cards). The government reserves them for those who will contribute as future U.S. workers.
In most cases, the law requires a U.S. employer to sponsor you for either one. But while EB2 and EB3 green cards are similar, they have several differences that set them apart.
One of the key differences between EB2 and EB3 is the priority dates. The priority date is the date of your labor certification with the DOL. It establishes when you can apply for an immigrant visa or adjust your status to permanent resident.
Since the demand for EB2 employment-based visas is higher than the demand for EB3 visas, the priority dates for EB2 are typically further out than the priority date for EB3. So, if you qualify for both EB2 and EB3 green cards, you could potentially secure a green card faster through EB3.
The educational requirement is another difference between EB2 and EB3. An EB2 green card requires exceptional abilities or advanced degrees. However, an EB3 only requires a bachelor’s degree or two years of experience in the occupational field. The good news is that if you don’t have an advanced degree or exceptional abilities in your field, you may only qualify for EB3.
EB2 and EB3 Application Process Similar
EB2 and EB3 green cards have a similar application process.
First, you are required to file a labor certification with the DOL and wait for approval. Once your labor certification is approved, your potential employer can file an immigrant petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf.
If the USCIS approves your petition, you can move forward and apply for an immigrant visa or adjust your status to permanent resident.
U.S. Employer Sponsor Requirements
Under both types of visas, applicants must have a current and valid offer of employment from a U.S. employer. The U.S. employer must also be willing to sponsor the applicant.
The only exception is if you are applying under the National Interest Waiver category under the EB2 visa. The National Interest Waiver is a unique EB2 visa sub-category for those who will work in a national interest field.
Individuals in this category may qualify for self-petition, meaning they can apply for the EB2 visa without an employer sponsor. National interest waiver applicants can skip the PERM labor certification process and apply for their own I-140.
Benefits of Permanent U.S. Residency
- Permanent residents have many benefits, including the following:
- The legal ability to reside and work in the U.S.
- More accessible travel into and out of the U.S.
- The legal ability to sponsor family members for immigration benefits
- Ability to attend school in the U.S.
- Being on the path to U.S. Citizenship
EB2 and EB3 Green Card Processing Times
PERM labor certification processing typically takes between 6 to 18 months and is the same for both EB2 and EB3.
On the other hand, the processing time for Form I-140 is usually between 6 to 9 months and is also the same for both EB2 and EB3 visas. However, applicants should note that they have the option of paying extra for premium processing to expedite processing times.
The application steps aren’t affected by the quotas on EB2 and EB3 visas.
Once you file Form I-140, you will receive a priority date. You aren’t permitted to schedule your visa interview until this date becomes current on the visa bulletin. You can’t apply for an adjustment of status until that time, either.
In many cases, the priority date is current, meaning there is no backlog. But many countries are subject to a backlog.
Many applicants won’t have a wait for the EB2 visa, depending on their country of birth. However, there is a backlog for nearly all EB3 visa applicants. For nationals of many countries, the backlog is approximately 1-2 years. Wait times can be over a decade for nationals of other countries, including India or China.
The wide discrepancy in processing times between these two visas makes it imperative that potential applicants thoroughly contemplate which category has a faster processing time based on their country of birth.
You can find more information about backlog waiting times by referencing the State Department website’s visa bulletin page.
Overall, the EB2 and EB3 categories are great options for individuals seeking a green card through employment.
However, the process to obtain one can be time-consuming and complex. It is essential to work with an experienced immigration services attorney who can guide you through the process, ensuring that you meet all the legal requirements.
Need Help with EB2 or EB3? Call TZG Law Today
TZG Law is here to provide professional guidance and support in navigating the complexities of immigration law. With our team of experienced immigration attorneys, we specialize in various areas of immigration, including EB2 or EB3 employment visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and more. Whatever your immigration needs may be, we have the knowledge and skills to assist you.
Take action today! Contact TZG Law at 385-396-4599 or click here to schedule your initial consultation with Tina. Let us be your trusted partner on your immigration journey.