What are 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.

Who qualifies for an EB-3 visa?

To qualify for an EB-3 visa, an applicant must show evidence that he or she qualifies under one of the three categories: skilled workers, professionals, or unskilled (other) workers. Each category requires EB-3 visa applicants to prove their eligibility through documentation that shows their relevant experience.

Skilled Workers Sub-category Qualifications

Individuals are eligible to apply for the EB-3 visa if they have a standing job offer to work in the United States and can present evidence showing they are in a job that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature and requires a minimum of 2 years of training or experience.

Skilled Worker EB-3 visa applicants must meet the educational, training, or experience requirements of the job opportunity they seek in the United States. Post-secondary education that is relevant to the job opportunity may be considered as training. Applicants must be able to prove their applicable education, experience, training, or experience that qualifies them for the EB-3 visa by presenting documentation. Skilled Worker EB-3 visa applicants must be performing work that is not displacing qualified workers in the United States.

Professionals Sub-category Qualifications

Individuals are eligible to apply for the EB-3 visa if they have a standing job offer to work in the United States and can present evidence showing they have earned a bachelor’s degree from a United States college or university, or an equivalent degree from a foreign college or university, and are employed in the profession that relates to his or her degree.

Professional EB-3 applicants must demonstrate that the degree they hold is the normal requirement for entry into the occupation. Education and experience cannot be substituted for a bachelor’s or foreign degree equivalent. Professional EB-3 visa applicants must be performing work that is not displacing qualified workers in the United States.

Other Workers Sub-category Qualifications

Individuals are eligible to apply for the EB-3 visa if they have a standing job offer to work in the United States and can present evidence showing they are performing unskilled labor that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature and requires less than 2 years of training, education, or experience.

Other Worker EB-3 applicants must demonstrate that they have the ability to perform the unskilled labor required for their job offer. Other Worker EB-3 visa applicants must be performing work that is not displacing qualified workers in the United States.

What is the process for obtaining an EB-3 visa?

The application for an EB-3 visa is an employer-driven process. An applicant must have a potential employer in the United States who seeks to employ the applicant and is willing to sponsor him or her for the EB-3 visa. The application process for all sub-categories of the EB-3 visa is substantially similar. The application process is through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

Step One

An applicant’s potential United States employer must first seek approval through the United States Department of Labor’s Foreign Labor Certification Process. The employer will be issued Permanent Labor Certification by using the DOL’s Program Electronic Management Review (PERM) System.

When going through the PERM process, the applicant’s potential United States employer must certify that the job opening is available to United States workers, is in a specified professional field, that the rate of pay for the job is a prevailing industry rate, and that a foreign worker is needed to fill the position. Thus, the employer must show through an extensive recruiting process that no qualified Americans are available to work the job.

The employer must submit Form ETA-750 as part of the PERM labor certification. This form helps to prove that the hiring of a foreign worker does not displace American workers eligible for the same job. This must be completed by the employer before an application can actually be submitted for the EB-3 visa. The PERM process can be the most lengthy part of the EB-3 visa process.

Step Two

The potential United States employer of the EB-3 applicant must complete and sign Form I-140 according to the form’s instructions on behalf of the applicant. The form is submitted with the USCIS. After completing and signing the form, it must be submitted with the applicable filing fee and documentary evidence showing the applicant meets the advanced degree or exceptional ability qualifications.

Processing Time and Premium Processing

The PERM labor certification process typically takes around 6 months after filing. However, the application processing time can vary depending on the employer and the applicant, especially if the United States employer is subject to an audit, which can delay the process to take around 1 year.

After the PERM labor certification process is complete, premium processing is available for all sub-categories of EB-3 visa applicants, which speeds up the Form I-140 process. This will expedite the process by which the visa application is reviewed and approved for an additional fee.

Applicants Already Inside the United States

EB-3 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. The Form I-485 changes a visa holder’s status under one visa to a new status under the EB-3 visa. Both the Form I-485 and the Form I-140 are submitted to the USCIS.

Applicants Outside the United States

EB-3 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 following items to their interview:

  • 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 PERM Labor Certification;
  • The applicant’s CV or resume;
  • An affidavit of support from the applicant’s employer

How much does it cost to get an EB-3 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 affidavit of support for overseas applicants is $88.
  • The premium processing fee is $1,440.

Family of EB-3 visa holders

The spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of age may accompany the EB-3 visa holder in the United States. The family member(s) must apply to accompany the visa holder in the United States at the same time or after the EB-3 visa holder applies.

How long are EB-3 visas valid?

The EB-3 visas are valid for 10 years and renewable thereafter. The EB-3 visas allow workers to permanently work in the United States.