What are Permanent Work Visas or Employment-Based Green Cards?

Permanent Work Visas, also known as Employment-Based Green Cards, allow individuals to permanently come to the United States for employment. In order to receive permanent residency in the United States, an employee must qualify under one of the five EB permanent visa categories.

What are the Different Types of Permanent Work Visas?

There are five EB visa categories under which an individual can seek permanent residency in the United States for employment: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, and EB-5. Among these five categories, the first three are the most commonly applicable. EB-4 and EB-5 permanent visas apply to a narrower subset of workers. Some of these five categories have subcategories that apply to only specific types of workers.

EB-1 Visas

EB-1 visas allow individuals with extraordinary ability in their field of expertise, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational managers or executives to permanently come to the United States for employment. There are three types of EB-1 visa: EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-1C. The EB-1A visa is available for persons of extraordinary ability in their field of expertise. The EB-1B visa is available for outstanding professors and researchers. And, the EB-1C visa is available for certain multinational managers or executives.

EB-2 Visas

EB-2 visas allow individuals with an advanced degree or its equivalent or who have exceptional ability to permanently come to the United States for employment. Individuals may also seek a waiver to these requirements through the national interest waiver.

The EB-2 visa is available for workers who have obtained an advanced degree or its foreign equivalent, such as a baccalaureate degree plus five years of post-baccalaureate progressive work experience in the worker’s field.

Individuals who are able to demonstrate their exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business may also receive an EB-2 visa. Exceptional ability is described as a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the arts, sciences, or business.

Under the national interest waiver, individuals may seek an EB-2 visa through a “self-petition,” without a potential employer leading the application process. Instead of having an employer lead the application process, a National Interest Waiver applicant must establish certain requirements in order to be granted a waiver, including 1) the applicant’s substantial merit and national importance; 2) the applicant’s individual qualifications to advance proposed endeavor; and 3) the applicant’s benefit to the United States.

EB-3 Visas

EB-3 visas allow skilled workers, professionals, or other workers to permanently come to the United States for employment. Individuals must meet certain education, skills, and work experience requirements to be eligible for an EB-3 visa. However, the requirements for an EB-3 visa are not as strict as requirements for EB-1 and EB-2 visas. There are three EB-3 visa subcategories: 1) skilled workers; 2) professionals; and 3) other workers.

EB-4 Visas

EB-4 visas allow “special immigrant” workers to permanently come to the United States for employment. Individuals who may qualify under the EB-4 visa category include:

EB-5 Visas

The EB-5 visa allows certain investors to permanently come to the United States if they make a necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and are planning to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. Generally, a business investor must invest $1.8 million or the lower amount of $900,000 if made in a targeted employment area in order to qualify for the EB-5 visa. Moreover, the investment must be in a new commercial enterprise to qualify under the visa.

What is the Process to Obtain a Permanent Work Visa?

The process to apply for an EB permanent visa is generally the same under each EB visa category. However, certain EB visas do not require labor certification and different forms may be required. Moreover, there are important differences depending on whether an applicant is applying from within the United States via adjustment of status or outside the United States via consular processing. Generally, the application process for all EB visas is led by the applicant’s employer.

Special Procedural Requirements

Labor Certification with the Department of Labor (EB-2 and EB-3)

For EB-2 and EB-3 applicants, the applicant’s employer must first seek approval through the United States Department of Labor’s Foreign Labor Certification Process by filing Form ETA-750. EB-2 National Interest Waiver applicants must only self-submit Form ETA-750B.

File Form I-140 (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3)

All EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 applicants must complete and sign Form I-140 according to the form’s instructions. The form is submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the applicable filing fee and documentary evidence. Labor Certification is not required.

File Form I-360 (EB-4 Only)

Only EB-4 applicants must have their employer file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

File Form I-526 (EB-5 Only)

Only EB-5 applicants must file ​​Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor.

Applicants Already Inside the United States

EB visa applicants already in the United States at the time they apply must file Form I-485 to change their visa status along with Form I-140.

Applicants Outside the United States

EB applicants who are outside of the United States must also submit the online Form DS-261 application. These applicants must also schedule an interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near them. At their interview, applicants will be required to have their biometrics taken and will be asked questions about the applicant’s background, experience, and interest in coming to the United States permanently. Applicants must bring the forms required for their specific EB visa to the interview, along with the following items:

  • Copy of printed Form DS-261;
  • Copy of Form I-140;
  • A valid passport;
  • A photo conforming to the United States Department of State’s photo requirements;
  • Evidentiary documents proving the applicant’s qualifications;
  • Approved Labor Certification;
  • The applicant’s CV or resume;
  • An affidavit of support from the applicant’s employer

Premium Processing

Some, but not all, EB visa applicants may opt for premium processing. Premium processing expedites the process by which the visa application is reviewed and approved for an additional fee.

Premium processing is only available for EB-1A and EB-1B applicants; EB-2 advanced degree and exceptional ability visa applicants; and all sub-categories of EB-3 visa applicants.

Premium processing is not available for EB-1C applicants, EB-2 National Interest Waiver applicants, EB-4, nor EB-5 visa applicants.

How much does it cost to get an EB visa?

  • The Form I-140 filing fee is $700.
  • The Form I-485 filing fee is $750-$1,450, dependent on the applicant’s age.
  • The biometrics fee for overseas applicants is $85.
  • The Form DS-261 filing fee for overseas applicants is $445.
  • The Form I-526 filing fee is $3,675.
  • The Form I-360 filing fee is $435.
  • The affidavit of support for overseas applicants is $88.
  • The premium processing fee is $1,440.