Foreign nationals who wish to become U.S. permanent residents and eventually American citizens may apply to obtain an Employment-Based Immigrant Visa (EB Visa) and Green Card. This type of U.S. visa allows foreign workers to become lawful permanent residents and remain in the United States with a Green Card after being accepted as an immigrant worker. Ultimately, obtaining an EB Visa is a great way for foreign workers to establish themselves in the United States on a long-term basis, giving them the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship upon successful completion of the five-year period as a lawful permanent resident.

Table of Contents

What Is an Employment-Based Visa?

An Employment-Based Visa (EB Visa) is a type of U.S. visa that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. with a Green Card on a permanent basis. It is often issued to individuals who have been offered a job by a U.S. employer, although an offer of employment is not always required, and who meet certain other eligibility requirements. After obtaining an Employment Based (EB) Visa and U.S. Green Card, an immigrant worker can legally live, study and work in the USA for an unlimited period of time as a permanent resident of the United States and enjoy many benefits that are available to Green Card holders.

Employment-Based Visa Types

Employment-Based (EB) Visas are classified into five different categories, based on the individual’s qualifications and skillset:

  • EB-1
  • EB-2
  • EB-3
  • EB-4
  • EB-5.

Each of these categories have their own requirements for applicants to fulfill in order to be approved for a U.S. Immigrant Visa and Green Card.

Let’s look at each category separately:

EB-1 Visa

The Employment-Based First Preference (EB-1) Visa is an employment-based permanent residence option for those with extraordinary ability in a professional field, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain executives or managers of multinational companies. To qualify for this U.S. visa, an individual must have sustained national or international acclaim in their field, demonstrated sustained excellence through achievements such as awards, publications and recognition from peers, and/or have had a job offer for an executive position at a company that has been operating in the United States for at least one year.

EB-2 Visa

The Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) Visa is an employment-based permanent residence option primarily intended for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their respective fields. To qualify for this U.S. visa, applicants must demonstrate that they possess exceptional ability through evidence such as awards, certifications, and/or published articles; hold an advanced degree from an accredited university; or can prove that their occupation requires a minimum of five years of experience to practice. Additionally, the applicant must have obtained a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor verifying that there are no qualified U.S. citizens available to do the job before being eligible for this visa type.

EB-3 Visa

The Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3) Visa is a U.S. immigration option intended primarily for skilled workers, professionals with bachelor’s degrees, and unskilled workers seeking employment in the United States. Like the EB-2 visa category, applicants must possess qualifications that demonstrate they are able to perform the duties required by their occupation and obtain labor certification from the Department of Labor stating that no qualified U.S. workers are available to fulfill said position before being eligible to apply.

EB-4 Visa

The Employment-Based Fourth Preference (EB-4) Visa is a specialized category of U.S. Immigrant Visas intended for a variety of special kinds of immigrants such as:

  • Religious Workers moving to the USA to work for non-profit religious organizations
  • International Broadcasters moving to the US to work for the media as part of USAGM
  • Translators from Afghanistan or Iraq who have worked for the U.S. Government
  • Special Juvenile Immigrants requiring the protection of a juvenile court
  • Retired officers or employees of NATO or other qualifying international organization
  • Eligible family members of retired officers/employees of a qualifying international organization

EB-5 Visa

EB-5 Investor Visa: This Fifth Preference (EB-5) Visa is intended for those who wish to make an investment in a U.S. business with the goal of creating 10 or more jobs for U.S. workers within two years or less. To qualify, individuals must invest at least $1,050,000 USD (unless it will be invested in a targeted employment area, in which case the minimum investment is $800,000 USD) in a new commercial enterprise that results in the creation of full-time positions for no fewer than 10 qualified employees, each working at least 35 hours per week. Additionally, investors must prove that the resulting job creation has been sustained and retained its value over time.

Employment-Based Green Card Processing Time

The processing time for an Employment-Based U.S. Visa and Green Card can vary greatly depending on a few factors, such as the applicant’s home country, the type of visa they are seeking, and their place in line. Generally speaking, it takes 6-9 months to complete the process from start to finish. However, this timeline could be significantly longer if the applicant is from a country with a large number of applicants such as China or India. This is due to the fact that applicants from these countries are subject to annual numerical limitations, commonly known as “visa caps” or “per-country limits”. These caps mean that although they have completed all necessary paperwork and passed any required interviews, they must wait until their priority date is current before they can receive their Green Card.

Permanent Employment-Based Immigration

Permanent employment-based immigration is the process by which non-U.S. citizens are granted permanent residence to work in the United States. The United States provides a variety of options for individuals who wish to immigrate to the U.S. on an employment basis, including a number of visas and Green Cards available for workers in various industries and occupations, as well as certain family members.
The main criteria often (but not always) required for a visa or Green Card involved in employment-based U.S. immigration is that applicants must have an employer willing to sponsor them for a job in the U.S., and there must be an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor attesting that no qualified American citizen or permanent resident is available to fill that job opening.
Depending on which category one falls under, some may need additional qualifications beyond basic work experience such as college degrees, for example, so it’s important to research all options carefully before applying for any type of visa or Green Card involving employment-based immigration to the U.S.

Costs of Applying

All applicants seeking permanent residence in the United States must pay a visa issuance fee, also known as a “reciprocity fee”. These fees vary from country to country and depend on the type of visa you are applying for and whether you are traveling with dependents. Depending on the type of visa, there may also be additional fees for processing applications, medical examinations, photos, or other requirements.

In addition to these fees, those seeking Employment-Based Visas may need to pay legal service fees (such as to hire an attorney) and filing charges. Immigration attorneys typically charge hourly rates that range between $150-$400 per hour depending on their expertise and experience. The average expense of filing an application is around $2,000, but could be higher depending on the complexity and time spent by the attorney working on the case. In some cases, employers may provide assistance with paying these legal costs incurred by employees applying for work visas for the United States.

Overall, when taking into account all possible expenses associated with applying for a U.S. Employment-Based Visa, such as application fees, reciprocity fees, legal service charges, medical exam costs, travel expenses and miscellaneous living expenses; it is not uncommon for applicants seeking an Employment-Based Visa to spend up to several thousand dollars before even starting their journey towards obtaining lawful permanent residence in the United States.


After understanding each EB Visa category, you might understand better for which one you may qualify.

Keep in mind that applying for any of the U.S. visa categories will require you to evaluate your profile thoroughly, gather the right documents, and adequately assess your finances before planning your arrival to the U.S.

It is important that you plan ahead financially to cover all necessary costs without unexpected financial hardship throughout the journey towards obtaining lawful permanent resident status in America.

You might also consider seeking professional help with your visa application.

Consider USAFIS – we have substantial experience in helping people from around the world to pursue their best option to obtain a Green Card or other U.S. visa.

Start your process today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

An Employment-Based Visa to the United States is a type of Immigrant Visa that allows foreign nationals to come to the U.S. for a specific job or purpose related to their field of expertise. These visas are issued by the U.S. Department of State and allow individuals to stay in the country for long-term with a Permanent Resident Green Card. Employment-Based Visas are categorized into five categories: EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, and EB5. Each category has its own set of requirements and restrictions which must be met in order to qualify for one of these U.S. visas and Green Cards.

The processing time for an Employment-Based Visa may vary depending on the particular circumstances. Generally, it can take anywhere from 6 months to several years, depending on the type of visa and the specific characteristics of the applicant’s case. Additionally, if you already have a U.S. job offer in place, the application process may be expedited. Further complicating factors include administrative processing requirements, backlogs in U.S. visa issuance, and security checks that need to be completed before issuing a visa.

The employment-based Green Card is generally valid for 10 years from the date of issuance; however, it can be renewed by submitting an I-90 form to USCIS along with documents proving that you are still eligible for this status. Once a Green Card has been renewed, it will generally last another 10 years from the renewal date, meaning that if you are issued a new one every 10 years, your card will remain active provided that you continue to fulfill all requirements set forth by USCIS.

The Employment-Based Immigrant Visas are not permanent, have an expiration date and are intended to allow a new U.S. Permanent Resident to initially enter the United States. In addition to the Employment-Based Visa being placed on a page of an immigrant’s passport, he or she will also pay the Immigrant Fee to USCIS to receive a plastic U.S. Permanent Resident Green Card which is generally valid for 10 years and can be renewed for 10-year periods. A Green Card is carried long-term by an immigrant to use as official identification while living in the USA and proof of U.S. permanent resident status including when returning to the United States after traveling abroad.
To be eligible for an EB visa, applicants must satisfy all of the eligibility requirements for one of the five EB visa categories (EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4 or EB5). These requirements may include having specific skills or experience that are needed for the job, obtaining a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor demonstrating that there are no qualified applicants for the position available in the U.S., meeting certain job requirements and salary requirements set forth by the Department of Labor, and providing evidence of adequate financial resources to support oneself while living in America, among other things. In addition, all applicants must pass a medical examination and security check prior to being granted an EB visa and Green Card.

Start your journey toward a new life in the USA!

What Our Clients Say