The wait time associated with employment based visas can take years. Useful guidance on the factors to consider when choosing the right visa category for your employee.
EB-2 Position: What it means to be an 2nd Preference Employment Based Applicant
An EB-2 petition is an employment-based 2nd preference petition for a position that requires a master's degree or exceptional ability. In some instances, a professional with a bachelor's degree and five years of progressively responsible experience may be considered to possess the equivalent of a master's degree in the field.
EB-3 Position: What it means to be an 3rd Preference Employment Based Applicant
An EB-3 petition is an employment-based 3rd preference petition for a position that requires a bachelor's degree or at least two years of experience (skilled worker category, which does not require a degree). Additionally, there is a sub-category for unskilled workers that requires less than two years experience.
Significance in Choosing EB2 v. EB3
First, the wait list for the EB3 category if often longer than the wait list for the EB2 category and the priority dates frequently RETROGRESS or otherwise become unavailable for those born in China, India, and the Philippines. Each country is subject to an annual QUOTE of immigrant visa numbers for each employment-based category. Since more applicants apply than there are visas available, this will mean that even if the immigrant petition (Form I-140) is approved, and the visa number is not available to the foreign worker, the foreign national will NOT be eligible to file for adjustment of status to obtain lawful permanent residence.
Eligibility is based on date of filing. This date of filing is known as the "PRIORITY DATE". In the last few years, it has been typical that visa categories either "RETROGRESS" or become "UNAVAILABLE" as we get closer to the end of fiscal year on September 30th, as the visas are granted and the government runs out of visas.
Additional resources provided by the author
The State Department publishes which PRIORITY DATES are eligible for either Adjustment of Status with the USCIS or Immigrant Visa Processing at a US Consulate. See the Visa Bulletin link below.
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