Besides family and immediate relative immigration visas, the U.S also gives visas to people who qualify to work in the country. These Employment Based Visas allow foreign workers who have found an employer willing to hire them to come to the U.S permanently and work without an Employment Authorization Document. The employment visas are denoted with the letter E and are of 5 types:
- EB-1 Visa or First Priority Workers Visa is for outstanding professors, researchers, people with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, business, athletics, or education, as well as executive managers who have worked at a foreign branch of a U.S company for the past 3 years
- EB-2 Visa or Second Priority Workers Visa is for professionals with advanced degrees and people with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, or business.
- EB-3 Visa or Third Priority Workers Visa is for skilled workers with more than 2 years of experience, professionals with a higher education degree, or unskilled workers with less than 2 years of experience (EW-3 Visa).
- EB-4 Visa or Fourth Priority Workers Visa is for various religious, government, or international organizations workers
- EB-5 Visa or Fifth Priority Workers Visa is for investors in the U.S who will invest between $500K to $1 million in the U.S economy
The Employment Sponsored Visas are subject to a cap of 140,000 visas per year. They are allocated between the five visas, which creates long wait times for processing. Once the limit of the visas is reached in a year, the rest of the applications wait for their turn in the coming years. That is why those who are applying for any employment based visa need to wait for their priority dates to become current in order to qualify for immigration in the U.S.
This article will go through the EB-3 visa, what it is, its requirements, application procedures, and other relevant details.
What is the EB-3 visa?
The EB-3 visa or as it is differently called the Third Priority Worker visa allows three types of workers to go to the U.S permanently and work there. These groups of workers are:
- Skilled workers – who have completed at least 2 years of job experience or training
- Professionals – who can prove that they have a higher educational degree or its equivalent such as a Bachelor’s Degree and that this degree is a requirement for the job position
- Unskilled workers – who have less than 2 years of work experience or training. Unskilled workers get the EW-3 visa as explained in the article.
With an EB-3 visa, the foreign workers can go to the U.S, live there permanently and work without having to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). After a few years on the same job, they can also switch employers and job positions. They get the Green Card and are required to pay all taxes applicable to them. They are also allowed to travel within and outside the U.S, as well as live in a different state in the U.S than the one they first moved to.
The EB-3 visa is limited in the number of visas issued per year. Out of the total 140,000 immigrant visas issued for the employment category, 28.6% or around 40,040 visas are allocated for the EB-3. After this quota is reached for the year, the rest of the applications are put on hold for the next year.
The EB-3 visa is beneficial to U.S employers too because due to shortages of certain professions in the U.S, the employers can find someone who is qualified from a foreign country. However, this is done in such a way that requires the U.S employer to prove that they could not find an equivalent employee who is in the U.S.
What are the requirements for the EB-3 visa?
In order to qualify for the EB-3 visa, a foreign worker must prove the following:
- That they have a valid and permanent job offer from a U.S employer
- That they have the qualifications to meet the job description in terms of level of education and job experience
On the other hand, the U.S employer must also prove the following to qualify for sponsoring a foreign worker for an EB-3 visa:
- That the employer could not find an available, qualified, or willing U.S worker for the job position
- That the employer is financial stable to pay the foreign worker and can afford to sponsor the worker
How to apply for the EB-3 visa?
Applications for the EB-3 visas have multiple steps which involve both the employer and the foreign employee. The application process is divided in two parts:
- The U.S employer obtains labor certification and files the necessary petitions
- If approved, the foreign employee then applies for the EW-3 visa at a U.S Embassy in their home country
Application procedures from U.S employer
Getting the labor certification
Since one of the requirements for the U.S employer to be able to hire the foreign worker is to prove that there were no U.S employees for the job, the employer must prove this with documents. This can be done by getting a labor certification from the U.S Department of Labor (DOL). Additionally, the U.S employer must prove that they will not discriminate against the foreign worker. Discrimination can be done by paying the foreign worker a lower salary or wage than what they would pay a U.S employee.
By filing ETA Form 9089 to the DOL, the employer states that there were no available, willing, or qualified U.S employees to take the job position and that the foreign worker will be paid a prevailing wage for the specific job.
The DOL will process the application and notify the employer and worker of the decision. If approved, the employer gets the labor certification and can move on to the next step to hire the foreign worker. However, if the labor certification is denied, the employer cannot hire the foreign worker and must apply again to the DOL.
Filing the petition
In order to get final approval to hire the foreign employee, the U.S employer must petition to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is done by filing Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker to the USCIS. USCIS will require the employer to attach supporting financial documents such as statements, audits, tax returns and others to evaluate whether they are able to pay the foreign worker and afford additional employees.
The petition will be evaluated and USCIS will decide whether to approve it or deny it. In case they deny it, the U.S employer cannot hire the employee and must try to petition again. If the petition is approved, the case goes to the National Visa Center (NVC).
NVC will then send a package to the foreign worker in any of the categories. The package will contain the case number and invoice ID number which the foreign worker can use for applying. The package will also have instructions on the process of applying. However, since there is a cap on the number of visas, NVC will only send this package when the priority date of the foreign worker becomes current.
Application procedures from foreign worker
File Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent
This is an online form which the foreign worker must fill in each section and submit it. The form serves as a visa application for the foreign worker to the U.S Embassy in their country of residence. When you as the foreign worker submit this form, you will get a confirmation page which you will send to the NVC with your supporting documents.
Complete medical examination and vaccination
In order to be allowed to move to the U.S permanently, you must meet the health requirements too. This means that you will have to go through the NVC package and visit a licensed doctor to complete the necessary documents and checkups. If you do not have all the vaccines then you will also need to take them.
Compile the supporting documents file
After the NVC approves your Form DS-261, you must send the supporting documents for your case. This includes the follows:
- Your passport which must be valid for more than 6 months after your intended departure to the U.S
- Your employment offer from the U.S employer
- The approved labor certification
- The approved petition
- Your DS-261 confirmation page
- Your signed medical and vaccine documents
- Two photographs meeting the Photo Requirements
- Academic achievements (diplomas and certificates)
- Your CV or resume
- Court and criminal records
- Depending on the case, the NVC might require other supporting documents, so you must follow their instructions carefully.
Attend the visa interview
After the NVC has reviewed your documents and needs no additional support, they will schedule an interview for you at the U.S Embassy where you are applying from. You must attend the visa interview at that scheduled time. The U.S official will go through your background and documents and decide whether you should be given an EB-3 visa or not.
Receive the NVC package and travel to the U.S
If your visa is approved, NVC will send you a package. You are not allowed to open this package under any circumstances. When you travel to the U.S, you must give it to an immigration official at the port of entry. They are the only ones allowed to open it and decide whether you are allowed to enter the U.S or not.
What are the EB-3 visa fees?
There are many fees which both the U.S employer and the foreign worker must pay for the EB-3 visa. The amounts vary and are decided by the DOL, USCIS, and the U.S Embassy in the country you are applying from. In general, your employer and you will have to pay the following fees:
- DOL Labor Certification fee (employer)
- USCIS Form I-140 petition filing fee (employer)
- Form DS-261 processing fee (employee)
- Medical examination fees (employee)
- Fees to obtain supporting documents (employee)
- Any translation fees from foreign language to English (employee)
How long is the EB-3 visa processing time?
Since the EB-3 visa has a limited number of visas per year that are issued, the EB-3 processing time can be quite long. If you are within the yearly limit, then your visa may be processed within a few months. However, since the quota fills up very quickly, the EB-3 Green Card processing time can most times be from a low of 1 to 3 years to very long wait times of 6 or more years.
Can I bring my spouse and children to the U.S with an EB-3 visa?
If you get the EB-3 immigrant visa then your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old also qualify to join you in the U.S. For the skilled and professional workers, the spouse qualifies for the E-34 visa, while the children can apply for the E-35 visa.
For unskilled workers, the spouse is eligible for EW-4 visa and the children for EW-5 visa. With these visas, the spouse of an EB-3 visa holder can apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and work in the U.S after approval.