EB-2 and EB-3 visas are the most sought-after visas. If you are looking for permanent residency in the U.S., these two visas can help you get permanent residency in the U.S. However, they have many differences that you should consider before choosing.

The main difference between these two employment-based visas is they have different processing times. The initial application process for both statuses starts with the Labor Certification, and the Labor Certification application is filed in the department of labor.

Overview: Key Differences Between EB2 and EB3

For getting a green card based on a PERM labor certification, you have two options EB2 and EB3. Both of the categories have differences in categories of preferences and also in processing times.

The significant difference between EB2 and EB3 visas is that the EB2 category requires the candidate have an advanced degree for the positions of science and business. On the other hand, the EB3 category has job positions for unskilled workers, skilled workers, or professionals.

Key Differences of Employment Classification between EB2 and EB3

The reason for the popularity of the EB2 and EB3 green cards is that an enormous number of applications are processed every year for these two categories.

Although foreign nationals have many options or pathways for getting a permanent residency in the U.S., EB2, and EB3 are more popular.

EB2 category requires the candidate have an advanced degree, typically a master’s or doctorate.

However, if a candidate has no advanced degree, they can still apply based on their bachelor’s degree if they have five years of professional experience.

The EB3 category is less strict, and it does not require the candidate possess an advanced degree.

But they do require a candidate should have a bachelor’s degree with a relevant five years of experience in the field. This particular employment-based category has three more subcategories.

The three subcategories of EB3 visas are given below:

  • Skilled workers 

In this subcategory, the candidate’s job is not of temporary and seasonal nature and requires two years of work experience minimum or training.

  • Professionals

In this subcategory of EB3 green card, the candidate’s job position requires a U.S. baccalaureate or a foreign equivalent degree, and the candidate should be a member of the professionals.

  • Other workers

In this subcategory, the job position requires unskilled labor with less than two years of work experience or training, and the job is not temporary or seasonal in nature.

Detailed explanation of EB2 visa

The EB2 visa is divided into three subcategories for foreign nationals, and these subcategories are given below:

  • Advanced degrees
  • Exceptional ability
  • National interest waiver

Advanced degree

This EB2 subcategory requires the foreign worker to have a U.S. master’s or doctoral degree or foreign equivalent. The employer has to prove that the position that is being offered requires an advanced degree.

This subcategory can still be earned without an advanced degree if the foreign national has five years of progressive work experience and a baccalaureate degree.

Exceptional ability

This subcategory of the EB2 visa covers persons who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. To earn the second preference visa, the sponsoring employer has to get a labor certification from the department of labor.

For qualifying in this category, the individual must meet any three of the following categories:

  • The individual must provide an official academic record showing exceptional ability.
  • The individual must provide a record and documents of his ten years of full-time work experience.
  • The individual must have a certificate of occupation or a license for the practice of the profession.
  • The individual applying for this category must have membership in the professional association.
  • The individual has to provide evidence of the salary that proves his exceptional ability.
  • The individual must have achievements recognized by professionals of the same field or other fields or professional or business organizations.

National Interest Waiver

National interest waiver NIW is the only subcategory in which no labor certification is required, and a job offer is also not required in this subcategory.

In this subcategory, only those who are in the best interest of the U.S. The national interest waiver NIW applicants do not require any employer to file the petition. They can file their employment-based visa petition on their own.

Similarities between EB2 and EB3 visa

There are various similarities between EB2 and EB3 visas, and some of them are discussed below:

#U.S. Sponsoring employer

Under both EB2 and EB3 visas, a job offer from a sponsoring employer from the U.S. is required. There is one exception, and that is in the subcategory of the EB2 visa National interest waiver NIW.

#PERM labor certification

Under both visa categories, the employer must get a labor certification approved by the department of labor. In the labor certification process, the sponsoring employer has to prove that he has searched and cannot find any qualified workers in the U.S.

There is also an exception for the subcategory of EB2 visa applicants; they do not have to get a labor certification. The labor certification process is also called the PERM process.

Differences between EB 2 vs. EB 3 visa

The major differences between EB2 and EB3 visas are given below:

#Application Process

In both EB2 and EB3, the employer has to go through the PERM labor certification process. After getting the approval of the labor certification application from the U.S. Department of Labor, (Form I-140) has to be filed. After this, the foreign worker interested in EB2 or EB3 visa status has to apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status.

As discussed earlier in a subcategory of EB2 visa national interest waiver NIW, foreign nationals do not have to apply for labor certification. Still, in EB3 visas, all applicants have to apply for labor certification.

Despite all of the differences, EB2 and EB3 visas require a form filing of I-140 (immigrant petition).

#Processing time

Another significant difference that you can not ignore between EB2 and EB3 visas is their processing time. EB2 visa has more strict rules than EB3 visa, which is the reason there is seen a very less visa backlog in the availability of the EB2 visa. However, if we look at the EB3 visa, it does not have that many strict rules like EB2, but a backlog is seen.

Most of the employment-based visas are given to EB2 and EB3 categories. A Visa backlog is a situation when the country has fewer visas and high demand; this creates a visa backlog it is because there is a limitation on how many immigrant visas can be provided every year.

Detailed Breakdown of EB2 and EB3 Visas Processing times

  1. In both EB2 and EB3 visas, the PERM labor certification processing time is around 6-18 months.
  2. In both EB2 and EB3 visas, the processing time form I-140 takes is approximately 6-9 months. You can get it done in 15 days if you pay premium processing.

You receive a priority date when your I-140 form is filed. The visa interview is not scheduled till the priority date becomes current on the visa bulletin. You can not also apply for the adjustment of status till the priority date is current on the visa bulletin.

EB 2 vs. EB 3 visa priority dates

EB 2 vs. EB 3 visa priority dates

The Visa Bulletin is released each month by the department of the state. The Visa Bulletin informs the applicants about the final action dates. A visa number is available when the applicant’s priority date matches the final action date, and after that, the applicant can file form I-485.

A visa number is available when the visa bulletin provides the most recent date for the different countries and categories for employment-based, diversity visas, or family-sponsored visas.

Porting of EB3 to EB2

As the EB2 petition has less waiting time for the priority dares, applicants try to port their visa petition of the EB3 category to the EB2 category.

However, porting of EB3 to EB2 requires the applicant to get a job offer from the same or different sponsoring employer. The new position can be more complex, and it may also require an advanced degree or a progressive work experience of 5 years with a bachelor’s degree.

Your employer will have to file a second PERM labor certification, and it is also when you can secure a new position, and all the requirements are met. After this is done, your employer will have to file a new I-140 petition.

The process of porting EB3 to EB2 can be complex and complicated. You can get the service of porting or other immigration services from an experienced immigration attorney.

Final Verdict

For getting a permanent residency visa, you can select any one of the EB2 or EB3 categories. In this guide, the similarities and differences between EB2 and EB3 categories are discussed briefly.

This guide has tried to cover all the relevant details regarding EB2 and EB3 visas. All requirements, preferences, processing times, and priority dates have been discussed in detail.

Why consult Herman Legal Group?

The immigration process can be complex, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. A sincere and professional consultation and guidance can help you save time and money. We can help you with immigration laws that are not easy to understand.

Herman Legal Group has 26 years of experience in providing immigration services to its clients, and we can claim that most of our clients got their immigrant visas successfully.

Schedule your consultation with our experienced immigration attorney by calling us at 1-216-696-6170. You can also book your consultation online, and the online consultations are conducted on Whatsapp, Skype, Facetime, or in-office.

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