Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference (EB-3)

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The Third Preference category (EB-3) is ranked third overall among five total employment-based preference categories.

The following foreign nationals are eligible to file their immigrant visa petitions under EB-3:

  • Skilled workers
  • Unskilled/other workers
  • Professionals

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides about 40,000 visas per year in the third preference category. EB-3 can also include unused visa numbers from EB-1 and EB-2.

Spouses can apply for immigrant visas under E34 or EW4. Children under 21 can also gain visas under E35 or EW5.

Application Information for EB-3

In order to qualify, an EB-3 applicant must have a permanent, full-time job offer from a US company. Their employer must also complete the PERM labor certification process. Labor Certification includes a test of the local job market to determine whether there are minimally-qualified US workers willing and able to take the position. If there are not, the employer can move forward with petitioning for the foreign national’s visa.

The labor certification process is not required for certain special classes in the EB-3 preference category, due to known US labor shortages in these occupations. As of October 2017, foreign nationals applying for EB-3 visas must complete an  in-person Adjustment of Status (AOS) interview. Their dependents must also interview.

There are three worker categories eligible for third preference applicants, outlined below.

Professional Applicants

Under the professional category, the foreign national must hold at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. They must also be able to demonstrate that a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for entry into the profession. Professions in this category include engineering and computer science.

Applicants cannot avoid the bachelor’s degree requirement. There is no substitution for a degree, including combinations of education and experience.

Skilled Workers

If a foreign national is capable of performing skilled labor, they may qualify for this category. Skilled labor requires at least two years of training or job experience.

Training can include relevant post-secondary education for EB-3 applicants. Work in this category must not be temporary or seasonal.

Unskilled/Other Workers

In this worker category, foreign nationals must be capable of performing unskilled labor which requires less than two years of  training or experience. The position must not be temporary or seasonal.

Foreign nationals in the unskilled and other workers category of EB-3 may have longer wait times. Because the qualifications are less stringent, there may be more applicants.