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EB-3 Visas

In Florida, the unemployment rate in May 2021 was 4.8% — well below the national average. Many U.S. citizens are gainfully employed in the state. But citizens aren’t the only ones who benefit from the low unemployment rate. The job market is strong, and there is plenty of work for foreign workers. If you’re a worker in a foreign country, you may be able to obtain an EB-3 green card. This visa gives permanent residency to people who meet certain employment criteria. To improve your chance at a good outcome, you should contact a Florida immigration lawyer. The Florida Immigration Law Counsel can take you through the process.

What is an EB-3 visa in the USA?

Permanent residency visas for skilled professionals are called employment-based visas. The EB-3 visa allows for the lawful presence of foreign workers and their family members, who have been approved for a green card and are highly trained ,in a specific profession or skill. There are many employment-based visas, and the same labor certification standards that apply to H-1B and H-1B1 programs also apply to the EB-3 visa. However, they are not the same types of visas, so you should speak with a qualified immigration attorney about which one is right for you.

An employer must prove that there are no U.S. citizens or green card holders that are capable of doing the job and that they must hire someone who is a foreign national. The employer can then sponsor and hire the employee to enter the United States with an employment-based immigration visa. Eligibility may also depend on the results of careful analysis of an individual’s job experience or training as well as how many years of job experience they have.

This process takes at least six months, so it is important to call Florida Immigration Law Counsel as soon as possible to begin your immigration file.

What are the requirements for the EB-3 Visa?

There are three basic types of workers who can qualify for the EB-3 visa. First, there are skilled workers. These individuals must have a minimum of two years of training. They also must be obtaining a job that cannot be filled by qualified U.S. workers. Finally, they need a labor certification and an offer for a permanent, full-time position.

Certain professionals are also eligible for the EB-3 visa. They need to have a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or the foreign equivalent of one. Additionally, the job they were offered must have no U.S. prospects. Unlike some other visas, this one does not allow the applicants to substitute experience for education. They also need a job offer and labor certification.

Finally, unskilled workers can apply for an EB-3. They need to be capable of doing unskilled labor. The job must not be temporary or seasonal, and there must be no available U.S. workers to fill the position. Much like professionals and skilled workers, unskilled workers need a labor certification and a permanent job offer.

Who qualifies for an EB-3?

Whether you are applying as a skilled worker, professional worker, or unskilled worker you need a labor certification and a full-time job offer in order to be eligible for the EB-3 visa preference category. However, the eligibility criteria depend on what type of worker you are:

  • Skilled worker
  • Unskilled workers
  • Professionals

EB-3 Immigrant Visa not for Jobs of a Temporary or Seasonal Nature

There are some requirements that all of the categories share. Non-seasonal jobs, as opposed to jobs of a temporary or seasonal nature, fall under the “other workers” category. In order to qualify for the EB-3 visa, the job must not be of temporary or seasonal nature. In addition to providing a labor certification and a job offer for a permanent, full-time position, the employer must also show that a baccalaureate degree is a typical entry-level requirement for the occupation. 

The Application Process

Before you can begin the application process, you need to collect all of your necessary documents. You also need to find an employer who will sponsor you throughout the process. They have the challenging task of obtaining the labor certification. The employer needs to prove that there are no qualified U.S. workers who can fill the position. If successful, the Department of Labor will issue a PERM Labor Certification.

After receiving the certification, the employer must file an I-140 form. Then, the waiting begins. It could take months or even years for the government to let you move on to the next step. You receive a priority date and cannot proceed until your date is current. Countries like China and India tend to have the longest waits.

When you’re allowed to move forward, you can file form I-485. This lets you change your status. As soon as the form is approved, you can be a legal permanent resident.

The Interview

If you’re not in the United States, you cannot file the I-485. Instead, you need to do consular processing. You will be required to do an interview with an officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country. Additionally, you will need to fill out an online immigrant visa application.

How Long Does the Whole Process Take?

It’s impossible to say how long it will take for your visa to be approved or denied. This is because there are multiple details that can influence the process.

Typically, the labor certification takes several months. If there are no issues, it can take approximately eight-ten months. But this can be extended if the employer is required to be supervised or audited. In some cases, it can take two years for them to receive the certification.

The I-140 can take about six months, but the timeline depends on the number of cases at the service center. You may be able to expedite this step with an extra fee for premium processing.

One of the longest waits is for the priority date. It can be as short as two months, or longer than ten years. Typically, the time depends on where you come from.

Lastly, the I-485 form can take about six months to be processed. The whole process from start to finish can take anywhere from 14-24 months. The best way to learn about your potential wait is to speak to an attorney. After they hear about your situation, they can give you a better estimate.

Who fills out the application?

The employer or hiring manager of a U.S. company who offered a foreign national a permanent, full-time job becomes the petitioner for the immigrant visa and is thus required to file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. The documents required for EB-3 include:

  • A permanent labor certification issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Proof of baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent
  • Requirements of position (a bachelor’s degree is mandatory)
  • Confirmation of permanent EB-3 job offer from U.S. employer
  • Petition for Immigrant Worker (Form I-140)

Once the labor certification request that was filed by the employer is received and accepted by the U.S. Department of Labor and USCIS has approved the form I- 140 petition, then the prospective immigrant will receive their own priority date, which is essentially their place in line for an EB-3 visa.

What is a priority date?

Depending on what country you are from, visas distributed to individuals from your home country are subjected to annual numerical limits. Therefore, you could wait a very long time in order to receive a family or employment-based green card, but you won’t know exactly how long because there are many things that affect immigration. The route to obtaining a green card is different for everyone, but you can track the people who applied before you in monthly reports. Each individual applicant for an immigrant visa has their own priority date, which is where you are in line for receiving your U.S. immigrant visa. 

  • If you are applying to a preference category that requires a U.S. Department of Labor labor certification, then your priority date is the date the DOL received and accepted your labor certification request.
  • If your preference category doesn’t require a labor certification, then yours is the date when USCIS received and accepted your Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers.

Unfortunately, there are more people who want immigrant visas every year than are available. Additionally, no more than 7% of the total visa numbers distributed by the U.S. can go to any one country, so this limits when an applicant can get an immigrant visa. 

What is the prevailing wage determination?

In accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, an employer must prove that there are no available skilled workers in the U.S., thus necessitating sponsoring an employment-based immigrant, and the job cannot adversely affect the jobs and wages of U.S. citizens. The prevailing wage determination is the rate for the occupation in that area of employment. 

Employers must provide evidence that the applicant will be performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the U.S. An employer can get the prevailing wage determination by submitting a request to the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC)

How does an employer prove that they need to hire someone outside of the country?

Employers are required to show that they did a thorough job search, and workers are not available who are either U.S. citizens or holders of green cards. Employers must file the job opening with:

  • The state workforce agency
  • Internally so that all current employees are aware of the position
  • In the major newspapers

The job posting must contain all of the relevant and necessary information for candidates to make an informed choice, such as whether or not travel will be involved and what the salary is. 

U.S. immigration agencies will pay attention to the education and experience requirements for skilled and professional workers. The job description must also include any specific requirements, such as which specific skills workers must be able to demonstrate, and a baccalaureate degree must also be the normal requirement for entry into the occupation.  Immigrants seeking permanent residence through EB-3 must demonstrate that they hold a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree.

After the employer has given a full-time job offer to the foreign national, the employer must file the EB-3 visa petition and begin the permanent residence application process.

Additionally, employers or petitioners must prove their ability to pay (ABT) the offered wage as indicated on the labor certification. USCIS expects financial documents, such as annual reports or tax returns, in order to prove ABT. Sometimes complications can arise when a business has had a bad year financially, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. But by working with a qualified immigration attorney, these issues can be addressed early in the process.

What about family members?

Once the Form I-140 petition has been approved, the visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can become eligible to apply to immigrate to the US with either an:

  • E34: spouse of a skilled or professional
  • E35: child of a skilled worker or professional
  • EW4: spouse of an “other worker”
  • EW5 child of an “other worker”
Immigrant visa number use by  category table

Source: Travel State

How long does it take to get an EB-3 visa?

How long it takes depends on the country of origin that the foreign worker is coming from. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the total number of employment-based green cards that are given out every year by the U.S. government is 140,000. This is a worldwide limit, and it is split between five preference categories from EB-1 through EB-5. There are also caps on how many immigrant visas can be given out to certain countries. The INA also imposes a 7% per country for each of the five visa preference categories. However, the process generally takes somewhere between six months to a year. Give our office a call to set up your consultation with us.

After your employer has submitted your form I-140 to USCIS, you could wait for anywhere between three to eight months before you hear anything back regarding a decision on your case.

Is Premium Processing a good option for me?

You may be able to speed up your case using premium processing. With premium processing, you’re waiting only 15 calendar days to hear an answer from USCIS. You must fill out an I-907 Request for Premium Processing, and you must pay the $2,500.00 fee.

It’s important to understand that even if your petition is approved through premium processing, you do not receive your green card at that time.

When Can a Visa Be Denied?

In some cases, the immigration office denies the visa request. All of the following are potential reasons for them to deny or reject your petition:

  • The information on the petition was inaccurate or inconsistent
  • You did not pass the background check
  • The petition was incomplete
  • You did not pay the filing fee properly
  • Your job title or employer does not meet the requirements

If you have a minor error on your application, you can fix the mistake and refile your petition. But denial can be more serious. To refile, you need more or different documentation. Instead of refiling, you can make an appeal or a motion to reopen your case.

How much does an EB-3 visa cost?

The filing fee for Form I-140 is $700. If you go through consular processing, you will have to pay the $230 fee for the DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application and an $88 sponsorship fee. The I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status filing fee varies between $750 and $1,140 based on age plus additional biometrics fee. 

The Cost of the EB-3

There are several fees associated with this visa. First, you need to pay a basic filing fee. The cost is $700 for all applicants.

The second fee is for the filing of the I-485. However, this fee varies based on the applicant’s age. The fee can be as low as $750 or as high as $1,140.

You should also consider the costs of attorney fees. Although you don’t need an attorney to file, because of the complexities involved in filing we highly encourage you to have an attorney represent you in this process. 

Another expense comes in the form of consular processing. If you’re not in the U.S., you need to have an interview. This process costs $230 and $88 for sponsorship.

Do You Need a Florida Immigration Lawyer?

The EB-3 process can be overwhelming. If you make one small mistake, you could ruin your plans for immigration. By working with an immigration attorney, you can get peace of mind. Rather than leaving your application up to chance, you can rest easy knowing it’s in good hands. Contact us at the Florida Immigration Law Counsel and let us handle your petition.

Why Florida Immigration Law Counsel

Navigating the employment-based immigration process can be difficult, and mistakes can be costly both in time and money. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not approve an application for an employment-based visa for any number of reasons – wrong paperwork, lapsed deadline in the process due to a misunderstanding, inability to prove ABT, and a myriad of other potential issues.

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