EB-3 Visa Guide: Eligibility, Requirements, Timeline, and More

Ever wondered if you qualify to work in the United States? The EB-3 visa program might be the answer for you!

The EB-3 visas were established to fulfill a specific need: connecting skilled foreign workers with American employers seeking their expertise. As one of five employment-based visa options, the EB3 caters to professionals and other workers whose education, specialized skills, and relevant experience meet the eligibility criteria. Managed by the U.S. DOL and USCIS, the EB-3 program encompasses three distinct categories, offering long-term employment opportunities in the U.S. for a diverse range of professionals.

This guide explains everything related to the EB3 visa requirements, eligibility, types, processing timelines, essential forms, and more!

IMPORTANT! The EB-3 visa is an employment-based way to obtain a green card, granting you permanent residency in the U.S. It is dedicated to skilled, professional, and certain other workers sponsored by a U.S. employer.

Employment-Based Green Cards in the U.S.: An Overview

Employment-based visas offer permanent residency (green card) in the U.S. for skilled and professional workers and their families. These visas require sponsorship from a U.S. employer, who must demonstrate a lack of qualified American workers and obtain labor certification in most cases.

Types of Employment-Based Visas (EB-1 to EB-5)

Employment Visa Category

EB-1 (Extraordinary Ability)

EB-2 (Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability)

EB-3 (Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers)

EB-4 (Special Immigrants)


Individuals with exceptional talent in specific fields (business, academia, research, arts, athletics)

Professionals with advanced degrees, exceptional ability in a field, or whose work is in the national interest

Workers with bachelor's degrees, skilled workers, and other workers with U.S. job offers

Religious workers, U.S. foreign service employees, retired international organization employees, and certain minors

Investors in U.S. businesses creating jobs

Labor Certification Required?


Yes (except National Interest)


No (for most categories)


For a more thorough exploration of the EB3 green card, including its intricacies, eligibility requirements, diverse categories, processing timelines, and crucial forms, turn to the following sections of this E.B. 3 visa guide.

What Is EB3 Visa?

The EB3 offers permanent residency in the United States. It falls under the third preference category within the employment-based visa system, meaning its requirements are less stringent than EB-1 and EB-2 visas but may also come with longer processing times.

Here’s a breakdown of key points about the EB-3 visa:

  • Eligibility: Open to skilled workers, professionals, and other workers with job offers in the U.S. and sponsorship from an American employer.
  • Subcategories: Divided into three categories: EB-3(A) for skilled workers, EB-3(B) for professionals, and EB-3(C) for other workers, each with specific requirements.
  • Allocation: Approximately 40,000 visas are granted annually, with a limit of 7% to applicants from any single country. This can lead to longer wait times for individuals from countries with high application volumes, particularly India and China.
  • Benefits: The visa – also known as the EB3 Green Card – allows you to sponsor eligible family members, the possibility of obtaining U.S. citizenship, and some flexibility in changing employers.
  • Application: You can submit your EB3 petition anytime throughout the year. The green card is valid for ten years with the possibility of renewal.

EB3 Visa Caps: Limitations You Should Consider Before Applying

As with all employment-based visas, there’s a quota system for EB-3 visas, too. The U.S. government annually allocates about 140,000 immigrant visas for employment-based applications. Out of these, approximately 40,000 visas are reserved explicitly for the EB-3 category.

Imagine a line forming as applications are submitted. Each application receives a priority date based on its filing order. Visas are then issued chronologically, meaning the applicant at the front of the line (with the earliest priority date) gets considered first. However, once the quota for EB-3 visas is filled, the line essentially comes to a halt for new applicants.

The number of applicants often exceeds the available visas. This can lead to significant wait times, especially for those from countries with a high volume of EB-3 applications. Check the EB3 Visa Bulletin regularly to track the priority dates for each visa category. It can show you how long you might wait before your application is processed.

EB-3 Visa Types and Categories

The EB-3 visa program offers three distinct categories for different skill levels and professions. Each EB3 category has specific eligibility requirements designed to ensure the individual possesses the qualifications for the desired position and that their employment wouldn’t negatively impact the U.S. workforce.

EB-3 Skilled Worker Visa Requirements

This category targets foreign nationals whose occupations require at least two years of specialized training or experience. The job offer must be permanent and full-time, and the required skills cannot be readily found among qualified U.S. workers. Additionally, the nature of the work cannot be temporary or seasonal. Some post-secondary degrees may be considered as training to meet this requirement.

EB-3 Professional Visa Requirements

This category is designed for individuals who hold a U.S. bachelor’s degree (B.A.) or its equivalent in the field related to the job offer. The B.A. degree must be the standard entry requirement for the specific occupation, and simply having the degree isn’t sufficient; the position itself must also necessitate a bachelor’s level of education. Like the skilled worker category, the job must be permanent, full-time, and not displace qualified U.S. workers.

EB-3 Unskilled Worker Visa Requirements

This category addresses foreign nationals seeking employment in positions that require less than two years of training or experience. The job offer must be permanent and full-time, and the work cannot be temporary or seasonal. Additionally, the offered position must not create competition for available qualified U.S. workers.

IMPORTANT! Regardless of the EB-3 category you qualify for, getting a labor certification and a full-time, permanent job offer from a U.S. employer is mandatory before petitioning for the EB-3 visa.

Eligibility Criteria for EB-3 Visas

Foreign nationals must meet specific EB-3 visa requirements. All categories require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and a permanent, full-time job offer from a U.S. employer.

IMPORTANT! While relevant post-secondary education can be considered training to fulfill the experience requirement for the EB-3 skilled worker category, it’s important to note that education and experience cannot be used interchangeably with a bachelor’s degree in the professional category. In other words, for professionals seeking an EB-3 visa, holding a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) in the relevant field remains an absolute requirement, regardless of their work experience.

The table below summarizes the essential eligibility criteria for each EB-3 visa subcategory:

E.B. 3 Category

Skilled Worker


Other Worker (Unskilled Worker)


Requires at least 2 years of specialized training or experience

Requires a U.S. bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in the relevant field

Requires less than 2 years of training or experience for the job

Education / Experience Requirement

2 years of job experience, education, or training relevant to the job offer

U.S. bachelor's degree (or equivalent), and the degree must be the standard entry requirement for the occupation

Ability to perform unskilled labor (less than 2 years of training/experience)

Additional Requirements

Doing a job for which other qualified U.S. workers are unavailable

Doing a job for which other qualified U.S. workers are unavailable

Doing a job that is not temporary or seasonal and for which other qualified U.S. workers are unavailable

EB-3 Visa Eligibility for Family Members

The good news about this type of employment-based immigration is that you can include your immediate family members in your EB-3 visa application. Your spouse and children under 21 (unmarried) can immigrate to the U.S. with you as “derivative beneficiaries” based on your approved EB-3 petition.

Visa Categories for EB3 Beneficiaries' Spouses and Children

  • Spouses of skilled workers or professionals can apply for an E34 visa.
  • Spouses of “other workers” can apply for an EW4 visa.
  • Unmarried children under 21 who are skilled workers or professionals can apply for an E35 visa.
  • Unmarried children under 21 of “other workers” can apply for an EW5 visa.

While included in your EB-3 application, your spouse and children will need to submit their separate application forms, typically including:

They will also need to gather required paperwork like birth certificates, marriage certificates, and evidence of financial support (if applicable), pay associated fees, and undergo medical examinations. Additionally, spouses may consider applying for:

IMPORTANT! Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and green card residents and their minor children qualify for the same U.S. immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

The Labor Certificate in the Context of EB3 Visas

Obtaining an EB-3 visa requires a crucial first step: securing a Labor Certification. We will discuss this later when we focus on the EB3 visa application process, but you need to understand more about this document now, as its absence will likely ruin your chances of getting the EB3 green card.

The Labor Certificate demonstrates to the U.S. government that your potential employer has tried to find a qualified American worker for the position before offering it to you. The Department of Labor supervises this process, requiring your employer to file Form ETA-9089. 

This form details the position’s job duties, salary, and minimum qualifications. In most cases, your employer must obtain an approved Labor Certification before your EB-3 visa petition can be submitted to USCIS. There is a limited exception where an uncertified form might be considered under specific circumstances, but this is generally not recommended.

IMPORTANT! The EB-3 visas can offer skilled and unskilled workers the chance of permanent residency in the U.S., but navigating the specific requirements and nuances within each category can be complex. An immigration attorney or service provider can analyze your qualifications, work experience, and educational background to pinpoint the EB3 category that best aligns with your profile. They can also guide you through the labor certification process, which is mandatory for all EB-3 applications.

EB-3 Visa Application Process and Required Documents

The EB-3 visa application process requires several steps and various documents at different stages. Therefore, this EB-3 guide will discuss the mandatory documents and the EB3 step-by-step application process together. Since you cannot complete one step without the other, understanding how the obligatory and extra paperwork and procedures align will streamline your immigrant employment visa application journey.

Stage 1: Labor Certification

The first step in the EB-3 visa application process is obtaining a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor. To initiate this stage, your employer files the petition for Permanent Employment Certification with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Who Files


Additional Documents

*Job description outlining duties, qualifications, and minimum requirements.
*Evidence of recruitment efforts to hire U.S. workers (e.g., advertisements, job postings). - Wage information demonstrating competitiveness within the local area.

Stage 2: Form I-140 Petition (If You Are Outside the U.S.)

When the labor certification gets approval, your employer files Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers) with USCIS on your behalf. This petition establishes your eligibility for the EB-3 visa category based on your qualifications and the job requirements.

Who Files


Additional Documents

*Evidence of your qualifications (e.g., educational transcripts, diplomas, licenses, certifications).
*Proof of experience (e.g., employment letters, pay stubs, W-2s).
*Copy of the approved labor certification.
*Copy of your passport biographic page.
*Any additional documents requested by USCIS.

Stage 3: Visa Application (if you are outside the U.S.)

If you reside outside the U.S., the next step involves submitting your visa application. This stage requires you to complete Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application) online. Additionally, you must gather and submit various documents to the National Visa Center and appear at a visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country so the consular officer can assess your application and suitability for immigration.


Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa)

Who Files


Additional Documents

*Valid passport(s) for yourself and any dependents.
*Two recent passport-sized photographs.
*Civil documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) for yourself and dependents (originals or certified copies, with translations if necessary).
*Evidence of financial support (may include a completed Form I-864 from a sponsoring relative, if applicable).
*Completed medical examination forms and vaccination records.

Stage 4: The Visa Interview

After the NVC confirms your application is complete, they’ll schedule your visa interview at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. You, your attorney (if you have one), and any authorized representative will receive notification emails or letters with the date, time, and vital instructions for the interview, including guidance on obtaining a medical examination.

EB3 Interview Tips

Come prepared with your valid passport and all original documents not previously submitted to the NVC, including translations. Refer back to your interview notification for the specific list required.

Next, a consular officer will thoroughly review your application and interview to assess your eligibility for an EB3 immigrant visa according to U.S. immigration laws. You will likely have to answer inquiries about your qualifications, job, and life plans in the U.S.

During the EB3 visa interview, you will undergo a quick and painless digital fingerprint scan captured electronically without ink.

After that, in most cases, you’ll receive your original civil documents and their translations back at the end of the interview. The consular officer will inform you of the decision regarding your visa EB-3 application at this time or within a reasonable timeframe.

IMPORTANT! Thorough preparation and professional presentation can significantly improve your chances of a successful visa interview. If you have any questions or require further guidance, immigration experts can offer thorough assistance.

Additional Forms You Might Encounter During the EB3 Green Card Application Process

While the core EB-3 application process involves Forms ETA-9089, I-140, and DS-260, you might encounter other forms depending on your situation. Here’s a closer look at these additional forms:

1. Form I-485 Permanent Residence or Status Adjustment Application

The document allows you to skip the visa interview step if you’re legally present in the U.S.

  • Who files: This form is typically used if you are already in the U.S. with a valid immigration status, such as a temporary work visa (H-1B visa) or student visa (F-1 visa). It allows you to directly apply for a green card without going through the visa application process abroad (consular processing).
  • When to file: You might consider filing Form I-485 if you meet specific eligibility criteria and want to avoid the potential delays and uncertainties associated with consular processing

2. Form I-131 Travel Document Application

This document allows you to obtain a travel permit while your EB-3 green card application is pending.

  • Who files: This form is optional but might be necessary if you need to travel outside the U.S. while the authorities process your green card. A pending I-485 application restricts international travel, and applying for Form I-131 helps you obtain a travel document (advance parole) to re-enter the U.S. legally.
  • When to file: Consider filing this form if you anticipate needing to travel internationally for personal or professional reasons while your green card application is ongoing.

3. Form I-765 Employment Authorization Petition

This document allows you to work lawfully in America while waiting for your EB3 green card.

  • Who files: This form is optional but necessary if you want to work in the U.S. while your Form I-485 application is being processed. Filing Form I-765 allows you to apply for an EAD to work legally in the U.S.
  • When to file: Consider filing this form if you need to work to support yourself financially while waiting for your green card to be approved. It’s important to note that processing times for EADs can vary, so planning and applying well in advance is crucial.

Form I-693 Medical Examination and Vaccination Report

This document demonstrates your good health for employment-based immigration purposes.

  • Who files: All green card petitioners, including EB-3 applicants, must undertake a medical checkup by a designated civil surgeon and submit the completed Form I-693 along with their application package.
  • When to file: You will receive instructions from USCIS regarding the medical examination and how to submit Form I-693 as part of your application process.

IMPORTANT! This information is for general understanding only, and consulting immigration lawyers and experts is crucial for personalized guidance throughout your EB-3 green card journey. They can ensure you understand the specific documents needed for your situation and help you navigate the complexities of the application process.

The EB3 Visa Processing Time and Timeline

If you want to know how long you need to wait before you get your E.B. 3, this section will try to clarify some things. 

Understanding the stages involved and their associated processing times is crucial for managing expectations and effectively planning your future. Let’s see the critical factors influencing the overall EB-3 visa processing time:

Stage 1: The I-140 Petition

The average processing time for Form I-140 typically falls between 4 and 6 months, according to USCIS data. This is the initial stage where your employer petitions on your behalf, establishing your eligibility for the EB-3 visa category based on your qualifications and the job requirements.

EB-3 Visa Premium Processing

If you seek faster processing, you can opt for EB3 premium processing. This service expedites the I-140 adjudication to just 15 calendar days for an additional fee. However, refer to immigration experts to determine if this option aligns with your specific situation and budget.

Stage 2: Waiting for Visa Availability (Priority Date)

Unfortunately, this stage doesn’t have a set timeframe. Once your Form I-140 is approved, you enter a queue and wait for a visa number to become available based on your priority date. This date is established when USCIS receives your Form I-140 petition.

The wait time for visa availability is heavily influenced by your country of origin and the overall demand for EB-3 visas from that country. Countries with many applicants may experience longer wait times than countries with lower demand. It’s crucial to note that this waiting time can range from several months to several years.

Stage 3: Form I-485 Processing Time

If you are legally present in the U.S. and eligible to adjust your status to a green card, file Form I-485 concurrently with Form I-140 or after its approval. The processing time for Form I-485 for employment-based applications can vary between 13.5 and 20.5 months.

Several factors can influence the processing time for Form I-485, including the current workload of USCIS, background checks, and any complexities associated with your case.

Stage 4: Consular Processing (For Applicants Outside the U.S.)

If you apply for the EB-3 visa outside the U.S., your case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) after Form I-140 approval. The NVC will then forward your application to your home country’s nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. The scheduling of the visa interview and the subsequent waiting time at this stage depend on the specific workload of the consulate or embassy and your location.

IMPORTANT! While pinpointing an exact timeframe for the entire EB-3 visa process is challenging, estimating the potential wait times for each stage can help you manage your expectations. It’s important to understand that the overall processing time can range from 1 year to 3 years, or even longer in some cases, depending on your specific circumstances.

How Much Does the EB3 Visa Cost?

Budgeting for an EB3 visa is not rocket science, but it is not a picnic, either. As with all employment-based immigration fees, some go to your employer, while some fall on you. Let’s see the essential EB-3 visa fees and expenses you might encounter, categorized by who typically pays them.

IMPORTANT! The information is based on current USCIS fees for Form I-485 as of April 2024. However, all USCIS fees are subject to change, so verifying the most recent information from the official USCIS fee page is recommended before applying.

EB-3 Green Card Fees: Who Pays What?

The EB-3 green card application process involves various fees, and understanding who typically pays which fee is crucial for budgeting purposes. Here’s a table outlining the detailed EB3 costs and who is responsible for them:



Form I-140

Form ETA-9089

Form I-907 (Optional)


Form DS-260 (if applicable)

Form I-485

Form I-864 (if applicable)

Biometrics Fee

Form I-131 (Optional)

Form I-765 (Optional)

Form I-693

Additional Costs

Translation fees

Document photocopying

Travel expenses

Legal fees (Optional)


Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

Application for Permanent Employment Certification

Request for Premium Processing Service for Form I-140

Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application

Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

Affidavit of Support

Biometric screening

Application for Travel Document

Application for Employment Authorization

Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

Translating documents into English

Duplicating required documents

Traveling for interviews or consultations

Consulting with an immigration attorney

Paid by
















$715 and others fees if applicable

No filing fee, but potential advertising and recruitment costs


$345 (if applying from outside the U.S.)

$1,440 (effective April 2024)


$85 (applicants aged 14 to 79)

Varies (filing fee applies)

Varies (filing fee applies)

No filing fee, but medical examination costs apply

Varies depending on the volume and language

Varies depending on the number of copies needed

Varies depending on location and travel arrangements

Varies depending on the attorney's rates and services

For the mandatory EB-3 visa fees, the employer is typically responsible for the $715 Form I-140 filing fee, while the applicant (worker) is responsible for the $1,440 Form I-485 filing fee and the $85 biometrics fee.

IMPORTANT! The total mandatory EB-3 visa fees are $2,240, with $715 paid by the employer and $1,525 paid by the applicant. It’s important to remember that this only accounts for the mandatory fees, and additional costs for both parties may arise depending on individual circumstances, such as the need for premium processing or legal counsel.

Additional Financial Considerations for Your EB3 Fees

When budgeting for your EB-3 green card journey, remember that the costs listed here represent the mandatory minimum. To ensure you have sufficient funds throughout the process, consider factoring in potential additional expenses that might arise based on your specific circumstances.

These could include legal fees, medical examination costs, translation services, document photocopying, travel for interviews or consultations, and other unforeseen expenses. By taking a proactive approach and incorporating potential extras into your budget, you can avoid financial roadblocks and navigate the EB-3 process with greater peace of mind.

Can USCIS Deny Your EB3 Visa?

When navigating the EB-3 visa journey, you must know the potential reasons for an EB-3 application denial. While USCIS and consulates generally strive for approvals, certain situations might lead to an unfavorable outcome. 

Potential Grounds for EB-3 Visa Denial

  • Engaging in illegal activities: Acts like drug trafficking, involvement in criminal organizations, or committing crimes against humanity can render you ineligible.
  • Violating immigration laws: Overstaying a previous visa, entering the U.S. illegally, or misrepresenting your information on past applications can be grounds for denial.
  • Failing to meet eligibility requirements: Not meeting the specific job qualifications outlined in the EB-3 petition or lacking the necessary documentation can lead to denial.
  • Health concerns: Certain medical conditions detrimental to public health or safety might hinder visa approval.
  • Security concerns: If there are questions about your ties to individuals or activities posing a potential threat to national security, your application might be denied while further investigations are conducted.

IMPORTANT! This list is not exhaustive, and specific reasons for denial can vary depending on individual circumstances and applicable laws.

What to Do in Case of EB3 Denial

  • Seek legal counsel: Consulting with U.S. immigration specialists is crucial to understand the specific reason for your denial and explore potential avenues for appeal or reconsideration. Depending on the situation, an attorney can advise you to petition for a waiver, if applicable, or guide you through reapplying if necessary.
  • Remain informed: Stay updated on changes in immigration laws and procedures to ensure compliance and increase your chances of success in future applications.

IMPORTANT! Facing denial can be disheartening, but it doesn’t necessarily mark the end of your EB-3 green card and permanent residency journey. By seeking professional guidance and understanding the potential reasons behind the decision, you can take informed steps to address the challenges and potentially pursue your U.S. employment green card aspirations.

EB-3 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

If you need more information on EB-3 requirements, eligibility, or associated issues, look below at the answers we offer our clients.

Can I submit an EB-3 visa application if I don't have a job offer in the U.S.?

Unlike other visa categories, the EB-3 visa is tied explicitly to employment in the United States. You need a tangible job offer from a U.S. employer to be eligible. Additionally, the employer must go through a specific process to demonstrate that they could not find qualified U.S. workers to fill the position before offering it to someone outside the country. This requirement helps ensure that the EB-3 visa program prioritizes qualified individuals while minimizing any potential negative impact on the U.S. workforce.

Obtaining an EB-3 visa grants you residency in the U.S. based on securing a specific job offer. However, switching employers after receiving your green card doesn’t come without restrictions. Fortunately, the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) offers some flexibility under specific conditions. If you are considering changing employers after acquiring your EB-3 green card, meeting the specific requirements outlined by AC21 to ensure a smooth transition is crucial.

Although the EB-3 visa doesn’t have a set minimum salary threshold, an important factor is at play: the prevailing wage. This refers to the average wage paid to workers in a specific job and geographic area established by the DOL. Your employer must offer you a salary that meets or exceeds this prevailing wage to ensure fairness and prevent potential negative impacts on the U.S. labor market. Your employer must pay you the standard rate for the position in your location.

Get Started with Your EB-3 Visa Application Today!

Are you ready to embark on your journey to permanent residency in the U.S. through the EB-3 visa program? Don’t navigate the complexities alone. Our ImmigrationDirect experts are here to guide you every step of the way. From assessing your EB3 eligibility and compiling the necessary paperwork to providing expert consultation, we offer comprehensive support to ensure a smooth and successful EB-3 visa application experience.

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