Difference Between EB2 and EB3 visas

Two widely sought after employment-based statuses are the EB-2 and EB-3 classifications. Although the two are very similar, there are significant differences that potential applicants should be aware of before making major decisions.

One important aspect to be aware of is that EB-2 and EB-3 follow different processing timelines. The preference category dictates the timing  for other major steps in the permanent resident process such as initial filing for adjustment of status (I-485), the approval of the I-485 and the final grant of permanent resident status. Keep reading to the important similarities and differences between the EB-2 and EB-3 visa processes.

Similarities and Requirements

Both applications start with a PERM Labor Certification application that is filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The I-140 immigrant petition will then determine the actual classification of the applicant, which is based on education and experience requirements per the specific job. From a broad perspective, EB-2 positions are generally reserved for jobs requiring advanced education and experience in science and business. EB-3 job positions include skilled workers and other professionals.

It is important to note that the I-140 receipt notices and approval notices display the actual EB classification. If applicants lose this documentation, they can request additional copies through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Difference Between EB-2 and EB-3 Visa

EB-2 and EB-3 are two of the five eligible categories for employment-based permanent resident status. Because timing of eligibility affects all aspects of planning an employment-based immigration case, understanding the EB classification is critical. The EB category determines different eligibility timelines, which includes the application to adjust status (I-485), eligibility approval for the I-485 and being granted permanent resident status.

Preference Category Determined at I-140 Stage

Filing a PERM LC application with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is the first step in applying for green card based labor certification. Despite the fact that the PERM LC contents determine the EB category, the actual preference classification assignment will occur during the second stage, which is the I-140 immigrant petition. This application is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more about PERM labor certification at:

PERM Labor Certification

USCIS Determination

The education and experience requirements of the job will decide the EB category during the I-140 stage. That is, the employer uses the PERM LC application to request the specific EB category in the I-140 petition. The PERM LC application requires the employer to describe the minimum education and experience requirements. In accordance with this, the applicant must be able to demonstrate they possess these requirements as of the date of filing. During the I-140 petition adjudication, USCIS will make their final decision if the case fits within the requested category. Learn more about form I-140 at:

How to Fill Out I-140 Form

EB-2 Requirements and Determination Criteria

The USCIS adjudicator will determine the I-140’s preference classification by following the appropriate legal guidelines. The EB-2 classification includes different alien categories. For example, aliens who are “members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent” and aliens “who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States.” For comprehensive information on EB-2 requirements, visit:

EB-2 Visa Requirements

Receipt and Approval Notice: Category Stated

The USCIS Form I-140 receipt notice and approval notice will indicate the specific EB category. If the I-140 is classified as an EB-2, USCIS will issue receipt notice “Form I-797.” This normally has the following notation in the Notice Type box: “Mem of Profession w/Adv Deg, or of Exceptn’l Ability Sec. 203(b)(2).” Once the petition is approved, this same information will be stated on the approval notice.

EB-3 Requirements and Determination Criteria

It is important to note that EB-3 classification includes skilled workers, professionals and other worker subcategories. The first two categories typically have a shorter wait time than the third or “other worker” category. Learn more about EB-3 requirements at:

EB-3 Visa Requirements

Interpreting EB Preference Categories

Knowing the EB preference category and the I-140 petition priority date is critical to understanding an applicant’s immigration situation. This important information can be found on the I-140 receipt notices and approval notices. These forms are understandably difficult to read. Keep in mind that the section for EB-2 ends in two and that section EB-3 ends in three. However, if the Roman numeral (iii) appears next to the number, this signifies there are other workers involved.

Taking the Next Steps

Sponsored workers who need additional copies of their I-797 receipt notices or approval notices for their I-140 may obtain copies through requesting their A file, which is allowed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In addition to this, a FOIA request may also allow the petitioner to obtain copies of the I-140, any applicable notices and other USCIS correspondence.

Contact Us to Get Started

If you are interested in learning more about your eligibility for an EB-2 or EB-3 visa, contact Pride Immigration Law Firm PLLC and schedule a consultation. Our firm’s attorneys are ready to help you determine your best option moving forward and are prepared to guide you through the entire process. Call our offices or send us a message online to learn how we can help you reach your goal.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.

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