What is the difference between EB1, EB2 and EB3

Employment-based (EB) visas provide a pathway for foreign nationals to become lawful U.S. residents, allowing them to live and work in the country permanently.

There are three main options: EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3. Each has its own requirements and criteria, so potential applicants must understand the difference between each.

In this article, we look at three of the most common U.S. employment-based visas and the key differences between the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 visas.

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Employment-based Green Cards explained

Employment-based (EB) Green Cards grant lawful permanent residency in the United States. As a Green Card holder, you can:

  • Live and work in the U.S.
  • Bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21
  • Become eligible for U.S. citizenship after five years

U.S. employment-based visas are split into five preference categories. The main ones are the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Visa.

Nearly all employment-based visas require a job offer from a U.S. company. Your employer then acts as your sponsor for your Green Card. The notable exception is the EB-5 Visa.

The EB-5 is an investment-based visa. Investors can self-sponsor, meaning they do not need an offer of employment or sponsorship from a U.S. company to apply.

What is the difference between EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 visas?

Below is a breakdown of the three main employment-based visas in the U.S.

The EB-1 Visa category

TThe EB-1 Visa is a U.S. employment-based first-preference visa. It is aimed at those who excel in their respective fields and are renowned for their expertise.

EB-1 visas are reserved for those who fall into one of three categories:

  • Extraordinary ability (EB-1A): Those who demonstrate an extraordinary ability in fields such as science, education, art, business or athletics.
  • Outstanding professors and researchers (EB-1B): Those with exceptional achievements in an academic field. Applicants typically need three years of teaching or research experience in that field.
  • Multinational executives and managers (EB-1C): This category is for those employed abroad in a managerial or executive role for at least one of the three years before applying.

For the EB-1A and EB-1B visas, applicants must prove they meet three out of ten and two out of six criteria, respectively. Visit the USCIS website for a full breakdown of the criteria.

One key benefit of the EB-1 Visa is its fast processing time. However, the bar for the EB-1 Visa is high, and the requirements are the hardest to satisfy.

The EB-2 Visa category

The EB-2 Visa is designed for those with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities. The EB-2 requires a PERM labor certification from the Department of Labor. The only exception is the EB-2C.

There are three subcategories under the EB-2 Visa:

  • Advanced degree (EB-2A): Those with an advanced degree. This includes a baccalaureate degree or an equivalent 3-year foreign degree.
  • Exceptional ability (EB-2B): This category is for those with exceptional ability in a particular field, such as the sciences, arts or business.
  • National Interest Waiver (EB-2C): A National Interest Waiver (NIW) is for those who can substantially benefit the U.S. national interest.

While the EB-2 requirements are not as strict as those for the EB-1, they are still more stringent than the criteria for the EB-3 Visa.

The EB-3 Visa category

The EB-3 Visa is intended for foreign workers and offers far more flexibility than the EB-1 or EB-2 visas. This visa is for skilled workers, professionals, and other/unskilled workers.

  • Skilled workers (EB-3A): For foreign nationals with at least two years of job experience or training.
  • Professionals (EB-3B): Professionals holding a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent foreign degree.
  • Other/unskilled workers (EB-3C): This category is for unskilled workers undertaking jobs that require less than two years of training or experience.

All three categories require employer sponsorship, so a job offer is required. To start the EB-3 process, your employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.

How Holborn can help

U.S. employment-based visas are vital in attracting skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors to the United States. They provide a U.S. Green Card, allowing holders to live and work in the country, as well as other benefits.

Each category has a different purpose and criteria. That is why it is essential to understand the difference between EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 visas. For more information, speak to one of our specialists.

Holborn Pass is an international leader in investor visas. Our expert team provides a bespoke, end-to-end service and support throughout the application process.

We are part of the wider Holborn Assets Group, a leading, award-winning financial advisory company with over $2 billion in assets under management (AUM).

We have successfully assisted hundreds of individuals and families in securing golden visas. To find out how we can help you, book a consultation with one of our advisers.

Frequently asked questions

EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 are employment-based visa categories for foreign nationals seeking permanent residence (green card) in the U.S. Each category has its own eligibility criteria and requirements.

The main difference lies in the eligibility criteria. EB-1 is for those with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors or researchers and multinational executives or managers. EB-2 is for

professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability. EB-3 is for skilled workers, professionals and other workers.

U.S. work visas can be valid anywhere from three months to ten years. It all depends on the type of visa. However, EB visas provide a Green Card. As a Green Card holder, you are a lawful permanent resident in the U.S.

The time it takes to get a U.S. work visa can vary, depending on several factors. For example, the type of visa and USCIS processing times can dictate the time it takes. Generally, the process involves several steps, including getting a job offer from a U.S. employer and submitting the required forms. The EB-3 Visa typically takes between 12 and 24 months.

There are several alternatives to EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 employment-based immigrant visas. For example, the EB-5 Visa allows applicants to secure a U.S. Green Card. However, unlike the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3, EB-5 applicants do not require an employer sponsor. Instead, they can self-sponsor.

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