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EB-3 Visa, Explained

Learn about the cost, wait time, and application process for the EB-3 visa

What Is the EB-3 Visa?

The EB-3 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa category that allows foreign workers to live in the United States and obtain permanent residency.

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EB-3 Visa Cost

Below are the current filing fees for the EB-3 visa. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced it would be raising fees across most visa categories in late 2023, including for the EB-3 visa. To stay up to date on fee changes, check out Boundless’ fee guide.

EB-3 Visa Costs

For applicants applying from within the United states:

  1. Form I-140 (“Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker”):
    • Filing Fee: $715 (this fee is paid by the employer)
    • Immigrant Fee: $235
  2. Form I-485 (the adjustment of status application):
    • Filing Fee: $1440
  3. Biometrics:
    • Fee: $85 (required for applicants aged 14 to 79)

For applicants filing from outside the U.S.:

  1. Form I-140 (“Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker”):
    • Filing Fee: $715 (this fee is paid by the employer sponsoring you)
  2. Form DS-260 (green card application):
    • Filing Fee: $345
  3. Form I-864 (“Affidavit of Support”):
    • Filing Fee: $120
  4. Biometrics Fee:
  • Fee: $85 (required for applicants aged 14 to 79)

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EB-3 Visa Processing Time

The processing times for the EB-3 visa involve several stages, each with its own timeframe:

  1. Form I-140 Processing Time: The average processing time for Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, currently averages 4 months, according to historic processing times data from USCIS. If you choose to use premium processing, you can expedite the I-140 petition, with a processing time of 15 calendar days.
  2. Waiting for Visa Availability: Once the Form I-140 is approved, the applicant must wait for a visa number to become available. The wait time for visa availability varies based on the applicant’s country of origin and the demand for EB-3 visas from that country.
  3. Form I-485 Processing Time (Adjustment of Status): If the applicant is already in the U.S. and eligible to adjust their status, the average processing time for Form I-485 for employment-based visa applications is 7.5 to 32.5 months. This timeframe can also be influenced by various factors.
  4. Consular Processing: If the applicant is applying from outside the U.S., their case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will forward the application to the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. The scheduling of an interview and the subsequent wait time at this stage will depend on the specific embassy or consulate and the applicant’s location.

Keep in mind that processing times may vary based on your specific situation and where you live.

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Understanding the EB-3 Visa

The EB-3 visa falls under the employment-based third preference category. It is designed for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers who possess the necessary qualifications and are seeking employment opportunities in the United States. The visa category is divided into three subcategories, each with its own specific requirements:

  1. EB-3(A): Skilled Workers
  2. EB-3(B): Professionals
  3. EB-3(C): Other Workers

Benefits of the EB-3 Visa

The EB-3 visa offers several advantages, including:

  • The opportunity to live and work permanently in the United States
  • The ability to bring eligible family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) to the U.S.
  • The possibility of eventual U.S. citizenship
  • Flexibility in changing employers, with certain limitations

EB-3 Eligibility and Requirements

EB-3(A): Skilled Workers

To qualify as a skilled worker under the EB-3(A) subcategory, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least two years of job experience or training
  • Hold a job offer from a U.S. employer who can demonstrate the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers

EB-3(B): Professionals

To qualify as a professional under the EB-3(B) subcategory, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Possess a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent
  • Hold a job offer from a U.S. employer that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher

EB-3(C): Other Workers

To qualify as an other worker under the EB-3(C) subcategory, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be capable of performing unskilled labor that requires less than two years of training or experience
  • Hold a job offer from a U.S. employer who can demonstrate the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers

How to Apply

Labor Certification

Before applying for the EB-3 visa, your employer must obtain a PERM labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The labor certification process involves proving that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the job you’re being offered.

Form I-140 Petition

Once the labor certification is approved, your employer can file Form I-140 with USCIS on your behalf. This form establishes your eligibility for the EB-3 visa and must be accompanied by the necessary supporting documentation.

Visa Application

After USCIS approves your Form I-140, you can proceed with the visa application process. If you’re residing outside the U.S., you’ll need to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. If you’re already in the U.S. on a different nonimmigrant visa, you can file Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident.


Things to Consider

Visa Bulletin

The Visa Bulletin, published monthly by the U.S. Department of State, determines the availability of immigrant visa numbers for each preference category. The EB-3 visa category has a limited number of visas issued each fiscal year, so monitoring the Visa Bulletin is crucial to determine when you can proceed with your application.

Priority Date

When filing the Form I-140 petition, you’ll be assigned a priority date, which establishes your place in line for a visa number. Your priority date is important as the Visa Bulletin uses it to determine when you can proceed with your application. Retrogression or advancement of the priority date can significantly impact the timing of your visa processing.

Job Change and Portability

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to change employers after your I-140 is approved. The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) allows EB-3 visa holders to switch employers, provided they meet specific requirements.


EB-3 FAQs

No, the EB-3 visa requires a job offer from a U.S. employer. The employer must demonstrate the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers for the position.

While there is no fixed minimum salary requirement for the EB-3 visa, the employer must offer a wage that meets the prevailing wage for the occupation in the specific geographic area. The prevailing wage is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The ability to change employers after obtaining the EB-3 visa depends on various factors. The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) allows EB-3 visa holders to change employers under certain circumstances, as long as they meet specific requirements.

Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old may accompany you to the U.S. on the EB-3 visa. They can also apply for derivative visas, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. during your employment-based immigration process.

Yes, you can include your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old in your initial EB-3 visa application. They will be considered derivative beneficiaries.

Yes, once you obtain the EB-3 visa and become a permanent resident, you can apply for green cards for your eligible family members through the appropriate process. This typically involves filing Form I-485 on behalf of each family member

Yes, the EB-3 visa category, like most other employment-based visa categories, has an annual limit on the number of visas that can be issued. This limit is determined by the U.S. government and varies based on factors such as visa demand and country of origin.

Premium processing, which guarantees expedited processing of certain forms, is available for the Form I-140 petition in the EB-3 visa category. However, premium processing is not available for the Form I-485 application or for consular processing.

Yes, you can apply for an EB-3 visa while in the U.S. on a valid nonimmigrant visa. If eligible, you can file Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident without leaving the U.S.

If you have a pending EB-3 visa application, traveling outside the U.S. may have implications for your application. It’s important to consult with an immigration attorney or review the specific rules and requirements to ensure that your travel plans align with the immigration process.