Law Office of Irwin M. Avelino

Employment Green Cards – EB-2 vs. EB-3

Employment_Working_Visa_greencard_Immigration_Attorney_Lawyer_Avelino_Los_AngelesExample 1: Employment Based 3rd Preference Category (EB-3), Skilled Workers and Professionals

Christian is currently working as a Database Administrator for a private school under H-1b status.  His spouse and children are currently living in the U.S. with him under H4 dependent status.  His employer is very impressed by his work and has decided to offer him permanent employment with the school and has agreed to petition him for a green card (permanent residence).

Three Step Process

Attorney Avelino explains to them that they will have to go through a three step process in order for the school to permanently employ and obtain a green card for Christian and his family:

  1. The school must obtain a Permanent Employment Certification (also known as Labor Certification, commonly referred to as the PERM process and Form ETA-9089) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).  In order to get such a certification, the school must prove that there are no willing, able or qualified U.S. workers for the job and hiring Christian will not otherwise adversely affect the working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  2. The school must obtain an approved immigrant petition (Form I-140) from USCIS.  Two main issues at this stage concern whether the school can afford to pay Christian a full time permanent salary as a Database Administrator and whether Christian has the adequate qualifications for the job.
  3. Christian and his family must obtain approvals on their applications to adjust status to lawful permanent resident (Form I-485) from USCIS.  Here, USCIS will determine whether there any reasons why they should not get a green card, such as: prior immigration violations, criminal records, medical conditions, etc.  However, Christian and his family cannot file these applications to adjust status until his priority date becomes current.
  • His priority date is the date that the Application for Permanent Employment Certification in Step 1 is filed.  In a sense, it is his number in line to get a green card.  He must wait for all the other immigrant workers (in the same category as him) who began their process before he did to get their green cards first, before he and his family can get theirs.
  • This, unfortunately, usually means that there is a several years gap between Step 2 and Step 3.
  • Because the U.S. government only issues a limited number of green cards per year in this category and there is always more demand then supply, this creates a backlog.  In this scenario, there are literally thousands of immigrant workers who are in line ahead of Christian and it will likely take several years before he and his family can file to adjust their status to permanent residence.
  • The good news is that if he and the school do everything correctly, Christian can continue working for the school and his family can continue to live with him in the U.S. up until the time his priority date becomes current (his number in line is called to file an Application to Adjust Status and receive a Green Card).

Example 2: Employment Based 2nd Preference Category (EB-2), Immigrants Holding Advanced Degrees or Equivalent In Work Experience

Christine obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in her home country.  After graduating, she worked in several key positions within the business IT industry steadily working her way up the career ladder gaining over five years of progressive experience in her field.

She is now working in the U.S. under H-1b as an IT Manager for an electronics component manufacturer.  Recently, she learns that her employer has an opening for their Director of Business Analytics position that they haven’t been able to fill.  The minimum qualifications for this position is an advanced degree (such as a master’s or doctor’s) or a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressive post bachelor experience in the relevant field.

Christine applies for the position and is offered the job.  Her employer agrees to file an immigrant petition for her so that she may work for the company permanently in this position and obtain a green card for herself and her family.

Attorney Avelino explains to them that they will have to go through the same three step process as noted above in Example 1, however, with one BIG DIFFERENCE.  Unlike the EB-3 preference category, the EB-2 preference category presently at the time of this writing has immediately available visas (except China-mainland and India).  This means that Christine and her family can concurrently do Step 3 of filing their applications to adjust status at the same time her employer does Step 2 of filing the immigrant petition.  For immigrants, this essentially reduces their wait time by around seven years and Christine’s family is likely to get their green cards within one year!


  • Each employment category has complex requirements and conditions;
  • Each employer has varying needs; and
  • Each applicant for employment has unique credentials,

It is best to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your possible options in detail.

Disclaimer. The preceding is intended only to give you a general idea of the topic.  It is NOT intended to be legal advice. Everyone’s goals and situations are unique. Please consult an attorney to determine which method is best for your specific goals.

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