Choosing Between EB1, EB2, and EB3 Visas: A Comprehensive Guide to U.S. Immigration

Understanding the distinctions and nuances of the EB1, EB2, and EB3 visa categories is crucial for professionals aiming to establish their careers in the United States. Each category caters to different qualifications and professional achievements. Let’s explore these visa types in-depth to help you make an informed decision about which one best suits your immigration goals.

The Difference Between EB1, EB2 and EB3 Visa at a Glance, Requirements, Benefits

Category Overview Requirements Benefits
EB-1 Outstanding talent in science, arts, education, business, or sports Recognized at a national or international level Rapid processing; No PERM labor certification required; Allows self-petition
EB-2 Exceptional professionals in business or science Advanced degree; Distinguished ability in arts, business, or science Easier criteria than EB-1; No PERM labor certification for EB2 NIW
EB-3 Skilled or professional employment Permanent job offer; U.S. bachelor’s degree or at least 2 years of experience More lenient than EB-1 and EB-2

EB1 Visa: The Fast Track for Extraordinary Individuals

The EB1 visa category is designed for the elite in their fields. This premier category is split into three subcategories, each targeting a different group of exceptional individuals:

EB1A (Alien of Extraordinary Ability):

Are you at the top of your field in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics? If you can demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim without needing a specific job offer, this category might be for you. You must provide evidence such as prestigious awards, significant contributions to your field, leading roles in distinguished organizations, and more.

EB1B (Outstanding Professors and Researchers):

This category recognizes those who have made significant contributions to academia. You’ll need at least three years of experience in teaching or research and a job offer from a U.S. institution that wants to employ you in a tenure-track position or a comparable research position.

EB1C (Multinational Executives and Managers):

Have you been working as an executive or manager at a company overseas and are now being transferred to a U.S. affiliate? This might be your path. You should have been employed outside the U.S. in the three years preceding the petition for at least one year by a firm or corporation and you are seeking to enter the United States to continue service to that firm or organization.

Key Advantage: No PERM labor certification is needed, streamlining the green card process significantly.

EB2 Visa: Advanced Degrees and Exceptional Ability

The EB2 visa is a good fit for professionals who hold advanced degrees or have exceptional ability in their fields of science, arts, or business:

Standard EB2 Requirements: This category generally demands a U.S. job offer and the completion of the PERM labor certification. You must demonstrate that your skills are needed in the U.S. and that hiring you will not adversely affect American workers.

EB2 National Interest Waiver (NIW): If your work has substantial merit and national importance, you might qualify to waive the job offer and PERM certification requirements. This is particularly attractive for entrepreneurs, researchers, and others who can demonstrate that their contributions will significantly benefit the U.S.

Consideration: While less stringent than EB1, the EB2 visa still requires substantial proof of your qualifications and the significance of your work.

EB3 Visa: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers

The EB3 visa opens opportunities for a broader range of skilled workers, professionals, and other workers:

  • Skilled Workers: Your job must require at least two years of training or experience. Permanent, full-time employment and a labor certification are required.
  • Professionals: You must possess a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent and be performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.
  • Other Workers: This subcategory includes jobs requiring less than two years of training or experience.

Note: The EB3 category typically has longer processing times due to higher demand and lower priority compared to EB1 and EB2.

Application Procedures and Processing Times

The application process varies significantly across these categories:

  • EB1 Applicants can self-petition or have their employers petition on their behalf. This category does not require PERM labor certification, which significantly shortens the waiting period.
  • EB2 and EB3 Applicants usually need employer sponsorship and must go through the PERM labor certification process unless they qualify for an EB2 NIW.

Processing times can vary. EB1 applications tend to be processed more quickly due to the absence of PERM certification requirements and generally current priority dates. EB2 and EB3 may face longer waits, especially from countries with high demand.


Choosing the right visa category is a strategic decision that can significantly impact your career and your transition to life in the U.S. Consider your qualifications, career goals, and the specific requirements of each visa type. Consulting with an immigration attorney can also provide personalized guidance tailored to your situation.

For more such information and assistance, reach out to us at

Frequently Asked Question about EB1, EB2, and EB3 Visas

Can you file EB-1 and EB-2 at the same time?

Yes, it is possible to apply for both EB-1 and EB-2 visas concurrently as long as you satisfy the criteria for both. Immigration laws do not prevent applicants from pursuing multiple visa categories at the same time.

What are the advantages of EB-1 over EB-2?

A significant advantage of the EB-1 category is its independence from job offers; applicants can self-petition. This flexibility is a considerable benefit for those who qualify, allowing them to initiate their immigration process without needing an employer’s sponsorship.

How do I know if I am EB-2 or EB-3?

Determining whether you qualify for EB-2 or EB-3 hinges on the educational and professional requirements of the job you are applying for. EB-2 is appropriate for positions that demand an advanced degree or for individuals with exceptional abilities in their field. In contrast, EB-3 is suitable for roles that require at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

Which EB visa is best?

The EB-1 visa is often seen as the most advantageous due to its generally current priority dates and the exemption from the PERM labor certification requirement. This status can expedite the green card process considerably, making it a preferred choice for those who meet the stringent eligibility criteria.

Does EB2 need PERM?

Yes, the EB-2 visa typically requires PERM certification, which involves an employer proving that there are no suitable U.S. workers for the position. However, this requirement can be waived if the applicant receives a National Interest Waiver (NIW).

How many EB-1 visas are available each year?

Annually, approximately 40,000 EB-1 visas are issued, divided among its three subcategories: EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-1C. Holders of this visa enjoy several privileges, including the freedom to live and work permanently in the U.S., travel internationally, and potentially pursue U.S. citizenship.


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