If you are looking to get a green card through employment, you have likely come across the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories. Known as employment-based green cards, these allow qualified foreign nationals to live and work permanently in the United States.
When applying, it is important to understand the difference between these three green card options to make the correct choice for your situation.
What Are Employment-Based Green Cards?
Employment-based green cards are permanent resident cards sponsored by U.S. employers. There are five preference categories, the main three being:
- EB-1 for priority workers
- EB-2 for professionals holding advanced degrees or having exceptional abilities
- EB-3 for skilled workers, professionals, and other employees
Each has various eligibility criteria regarding work experience, education level, and job offer requirements. The category you qualify for determines how quickly you can get a green card.
Breaking Down the EB-1 Green Card
The EB-1 employment-based green card has three subcategories:
- EB-1A Extraordinary Ability
- EB-1B Outstanding Professors and Researchers
- EB-1C Multinational Managers and Executives
Of the three employment-based green cards, EB-1 has the most stringent requirements. It is designated for those with very high achievements, such as renowned professors, researchers, and high-level executives.
A major advantage of the EB-1 green card is faster processing times. You also do not need to get labor certification before applying. However, you must meet at least three out of ten criteria showing national or international acclaim to qualify for EB-1A. For EB-1B, you need to demonstrate international recognition in academia.
Under EB-1C, you must have worked abroad in an executive or managerial role for your company. The EB-1 sets quite a high bar, but if you can qualify, it offers the fastest route to permanent U.S. residency.
Exploring the EB-2 Green Card
As with the EB-1, the EB-2 employment-based green card has three categories:
- Advanced degree holders
- Individuals of exceptional ability
- Those qualifying for a National Interest Waiver (NIW)
The EB-2 has slightly less strict requirements than the EB-1. To be eligible, you either need an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree or a doctorate. Alternatively, you must prove that you have exceptional expertise in your area of work.
One subsection of the EB-2 that offers more flexibility is the NIW. You can self-petition for this waiver if your work is in the nation’s interest. So, showing a job offer or labor certification is not necessary.
In most cases, though, the EB-2 does require you to be sponsored by an employer and have labor certification. This requirement involves a lengthy process to verify no qualified American workers are available for the offered position. So, you may have to deal with more prolonged wait times for EB-2 approval than EB-1 applicants.
Analyzing the EB-3 Green Card
The EB-3 is made up of three categories:
- Skilled workers
- Other workers
With the most flexibility of the three main employment-based green cards, the EB-3 imposes the least stringent eligibility requirements. Skilled workers only need two years of job training or work experience.
Professionals require a U.S. bachelor’s or equivalent degree from a foreign educational organization. Other workers can qualify with under two years of work experience.
A downside of the EB-3 is often much longer processing times due to substantial backlogs. An employer must also be willing to provide you with sponsorship for a permanent, full-time position. This is also true for EB-2 applicants in most cases.
Weighing Key Differences Between the Three
When determining which of these employment-based green card categories makes sense for your situation, consider these key contrasts:
Priority Dates and Wait Times
The EB-1 has the most current priority dates, so you likely will not face extensive delays. EB-2 waits can vary more widely depending on your country of birth. EB-3 applicants experience the longest backlogs out of the three by far.
Qualifications and Eligibility Criteria
You need to demonstrate extraordinary abilities and top-level achievements for EB-1 approval. EB-2 qualifications are less demanding, requiring advanced education or high expertise. For EB-3, you must simply possess basic job skills, training, education, or experience.
Job Offer and Employer Sponsorship
For EB-1C, you must have a managerial job offer from a U.S. company. EB-2 and EB-3 applicants also require employer sponsorship and continuing job offers unless approved for an NIW waiver.
PERM Labor Certification Requirement
The EB-1 does not call for labor certification. But EB-2 and EB-3 candidates must complete certification verifying that no American workers are available, with the exception of qualifying for an NIW waiver.
Choosing Your Best Employment-Based Green Card Path with Pride Immigration
As you weigh these three employment-based green card options, consider your specific qualifications and career circumstances. Analyze the priority dates and potential visa backlogs based on your country of birth.
Also, compare requirements across the tiers regarding employer sponsorship and labor certification necessity. If you qualify for multiple categories, pursue the fastest pathway available. Getting stuck waiting in long queues slows the residency process.
Pride Immigration can provide you with the advice you need to figure out whether the EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 makes the most sense for your particular situation.
Our team takes a consultative approach to pinpoint which designation you will likely get approved for. Contact us today at (703) 594-4040 or online so we can help you map out your optimal, personalized route to an employment-based green card.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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