Priorities and Preferences in Obtaining an Employment-Based Green Card

Calendar Icon Updated January 15, 2019
Green Cards

Securing an employment-based green card is one of the most common ways people from other countries can enter the United States as immigrants.

Not all cases are treated the same, with several levels of preference given to some “priority workers” based on “extraordinary abilities” skills and talents they can bring to a job in the United States.

EB preference visas are granted as follows:

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EB-1 Visas – These are granted to people with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers or executives. Unlike other EB categories, EB-1 applicants do not have to go through a labor certification process. They only need to prove that they intend to keep working in the same field they have been identified with as having extraordinary abilities.

EB-2 Visas – Visas granted in this category are for people who are professionals that hold advanced degrees or their equivalent and who have exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts or business. Applicants are required to go through a labor certification and demonstrate they hold a master’s degree or better. Only certain professions qualify, mainly in areas such as architects, lawyers, doctors, engineers, and teachers. Certain EB-2 visas may be granted under a “national interest waiver” which means that the labor certification may be requested to be waived because it will be in the best interest of the United States. For example, a waiver may be granted to doctors agreeing to work in healthcare areas where there is a shortage.

EB-3 Visas – This type of visa is granted to professionals and skilled workers who have the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree, and is typically for persons who do not qualify for EB-1 and EB-2 visas. Because requirements are lower, the backlog for these visas can take several years to acquire due to quotas. EB-3 visas must go through a labor certification and they do require an employer to sponsor the petitioner. This category has three subcategories: EB-3A for Professionals; EB3B for Skilled Workers; and EB3C for Other Workers.

Schedule A – Certain professions in the United States have been identified as “shortage professions” and as such, foreign workers in those occupations are given Schedule A preference when applying for Green Cards. Currently, the only professions explicitly listed on Schedule A include physical therapists and professional nurses. Schedule A occupations do not require labor certification, meaning that acquiring a Green Card take place in a much shorter time frame.

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Eligibility Team

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