“EB” stands for “employment-based”, so when asking what is EB visa, this refers to a range of green cards (i.e. immigrant visas) that give an individual permanent residency in the United States through their employment.
The EB visa group of green cards covers a range of different employment-based immigration options. Of course these are preferable to non-immigrant employment-based visas such as the H-1B, L-1, or P visas. However, it also means that these green cards will require more work to prepare a successful case.
The EB visas are organized into five categories, sometimes known as “preference”. So the EB-1, for example, is also called the “employment-based first preference”, and so on.
Immediate family members (spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21) will normally also be able to qualify to stay in the U.S. through a separate application, and may also be allowed to study or to work in the country (by successfully applying for EAD: Employment Authorization Document).
What is EB Visa First Preference (EB1)?
As the name suggests, the employment-based first preference (EB-1) set of green cards offers the most desirable routes to getting permanent residency in the United States.
The EB-1 group covers three different visas, which are…
- The EB1-1 Visa for aliens with “extraordinary ability” in their particular field.
- The EB1-2 Visa is the academic equivalent for outstanding researchers or professors.
- The EB1-3 is for executives or managers who work for multinational companies.
What is EB Visa Second Preference (EB-2)?
The EB-2 visa is traditionally for graduates with an advanced degree or who have exceptional ability (significantly above the normal range) in their area of specialization.
A third option called the “National Interest Waiver” was recently introduced in order to fast-track EB-2 applications for individuals whose specialty can be proved to be in the national interest of the USA. While very attractive, NIW petitions are subject to intense scrutiny, so it makes sense to speak to an immigration attorney with experience in this unique path to security residency.
See the EB-2 page for more details and how you can start your application today.
What is EB Visa Third Preference (EB-3)?
The third preference employment-based green card is the EB-3, which is for skilled, professional, or other workers. The process is less stringent than the first and second preference (EB-1/EB-2). As a result, there is often a longer waiting list for this category and around 40,000 EB-3s issued each year.
Applicants will normally need either the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree or two years’ training or work experience. In certain situations less than two years’ training or experience may be acceptable for some “unskilled” roles. Every EB-3 petition requires a PERM Labor Certification.
See the EB-3 page for full details on this green card, and how to apply.
What is EB Visa Fourth Preference (EB-4)?
The EB-4 (fourth preference) visa is for “special immigrants” and was created as a catch-all for awarding permanent residency to immigrants whose situation does not fit the other categories. As such, it is most often given to religious workers, but can also apply to other circumstances. No more than 10,000 EB-4 visas are normally awarded each year.
What is EB Visa Fifth Preference (EB-5)?
The fifth-reference employment-based green card, the EB-5, is for foreign investors who can prove they are willing to make a significant investment in a U.S. company, which may be a new company or an existing one that is currently failing. It offers an attractive path for foreign nationals with significant capital for securing permanent residency.
The minimum investment is normally $1 million, however this may be reduced to $500,000 if the investment will be made in certain rural areas or those with higher unemployment.
See our EB-5 green card page for full details and how to apply.