The EB-3 is an immigrant visa preference category for United States employment-based permanent residency. It is intended for "skilled workers", "professionals", and "other workers".[1] Those are prospective immigrants who don't qualify for the EB-1 or EB-2 preferences. The EB-3 requirements are less stringent, but the backlog is much longer: typically 6 to 9 years, except for residents of India and China, for whom the backlog is even longer, sometimes more than 12 years.[2] Unlike persons with extraordinary abilities in the EB-1 category, EB-3 applicants require a sponsoring employer.[3] There is no "self-petition" category.[4]

Eligibility criteria

The EB-3 category has three subcategories: EB-3A, Professionals; EB-3B, Skilled Workers; and EB-3C, Other Workers . [5] For each, eligibility requirements include:

  • a labor certification
  • a permanent, full-time job offer
  • ability to demonstrate that the applicant will be performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.

Separate requirements for each category are:

  • Skilled workers - must be able to demonstrate at least 2 years of job experience or training
  • Professionals - must possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign degree equivalent, and must demonstrate that a baccalaureate degree is the normal requirement for entry into the occupation. Education and experience may not be substituted for a baccalaureate degree.
  • Other workers - must be capable, at the time the petition is filed by the sponsoring employer, of performing unskilled labor (requiring less than 2 years training or experience), that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.


As of September 2012, the Department of State determined that the FY-2012 numerical limit for the worldwide employment-based preference must be 144,951, and the per-country limit must be 7% of the worldwide cap, regardless of the population of the country (this explains the enormous backlog for India and China). Out of this, the EB-3 category is limited to 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not used by EB-1 and EB-2 ("spillover"[6]), and with not more than 10,000 for "other workers".[7]


The application process begins with obtaining a labor certification, by submitting ETA Form 9089. The applicant does not need to be employed when the labor certification is filed; a future job offer is sufficient.[8] The labor certification will accompany the actual application, the Petition for Alien Worker (form I-140), which will confirm the applicant's priority date. The spouse and minor children of the EB-3 applicant may also be admitted to the United States under E34, E35, EW4 or EW5 visas.[1] During the lengthy application process, many persons in the EB-3 category acquire additional experience or education, and are eligible apply for an "upgrade" to EB-2.[4]


As of September 2012, the Department of State application processing fee for employment-based immigrant visas is US$405.[9] The fee for the USCIS Petition for Alien Worker (form I-140) is US$580.[10] Other costs include medical examination and, if applicable, required vaccinations; translations; fees for obtaining supporting documents such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.[9]