U.S. Immigration benefits may be obtained through the employment-based immigration category (EB). The employment-based immigrant category is divided into subcategories to include the EB-1 and the EB-2 preference categories. Each category requires the applicant to submit specific documents pertaining to his/her qualifications, in relation to the requirements set out by the preference category.
The EB-1 vs EB-2 question is a popular topic of discussion due to the advantages and disadvantages that each one possesses. In this post, we’ll not only identify the similarities and differences between each one but also the green card process. Keep reading to learn how the EB-1 and EB-2 visas differ in certifications and green card processing times.
It doesn’t matter whether you are getting an EB-1 green card or an EB-2, you will need to deal with priority dates. If you are not sure what a priority date is, here is a quick run through.
Your priority date is the day that the USCIS obtains your green card petition. The Department of State sends out a visa bulletin every month detailing the “final action” dates for each green card category according to the applicant’s country of origin.
You will need to check each month’s bulletin to see how your priority date matches up. Once your priority date meets or passes the final action date in your category and country, your date will be current and you can either adjust your status or go through consular processing. If the date for your category and country is already current, then you can move forward as soon as your I-140 is approved.
EB-1 and EB-2 Differences
THE EB-1 VISA
An EB-1 visa is the first preference category for applicants who are leaders in the fields of science, art, education, business, or athletics. The EB-1 category is divided into three subcategories:
EB-1A – The first subcategory is reserved for those that possess extraordinary ability and can prove that they are in the top percentile in their field. Those that qualify typically have evidence of this such as international awards, exclusive memberships, or a high salary. Eligible applicants can self-apply for the EB-1A and do not need a sponsoring employer or job offer.
EB-1B – The second subcategory is meant for outstanding researchers and professors. Eligibility for this green card is shown through the applicant’s contributions to their field. You must have international recognition, at least three years of experience, and a job offer for a permanent position in the U.S.
EB-1C – The third and last subcategory of the EB-1 green card is geared toward the executives and managers of multinational companies that have a branch in the U.S. and in at least one other country. To qualify, you must meet the USCIS standards for an executive and manager. You must also have worked as an executive or manager in the company’s foreign branch for at least one year in the three years leading up to your EB-1C application, making this a difficult green card to obtain for those in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa category such as the L-1 or H-1B.
The EB-1 green card does not require the PERM Labor Certification, and priority dates for the EB-1 category are typically always current. Current status of priority dates can be found in the DOS Visa Bulletin.
The main advantage to this preference category is that EB-1A applicants do not need a job offer to file and so can self-petition without the involvement of an employer. The disadvantage is that the prestigious qualifications for this green card make it very difficult to obtain.
Another advantage is the fact that the priority date waiting time is typically much shorter for the EB-1 green card than it is for the EB-2. However, this is not always the case and you should make sure to check the visa bulletin before making any decisions.
THE EB-2 VISA
The EB-2 Visa is a second preference employment based visa. The EB-2 visa is designated for individuals with advanced degrees (above bachelor’s) or applicants with exceptional ability in the fields of art, science, or business. The EB-2 category does not include individuals who have excelled in academics and athletics as in the EB-1 category.
Are you certified as a physical therapist? Click here to learn about EB2 green card for Physical Therapists requirements.
The EB-2 green card category requires an offer of employment and a PERM Labor Certification. In certain circumstances, an applicant for an EB-2 visa can seek a waiver for the PERM labor certification if it is determined that the waiver would be in the national interest. In order to qualify for the National Interest Waiver (NIW), specific documentation must be supplemented with EB-2 application.
Priority dates for the EB-2 visa category fluctuate based on the applicant’s country of citizenship. Current status of priority dates can be found on the DOS Visa Bulletin.
Don’t have an advanced degree? Learn how to qualify for EB2 without an advanced degree and other details pertaining to the EB2 green card process.
Do you require the PERM Labor Certification or Documentation of Recognition?
Since the EB-1 does not require the PERM Labor Certification, the EB-1 green card applicant must provide additional evidence of expertise and leadership in his/her qualified field. As an example, the EB-1 green card applicant must demonstrate extraordinary achievement by receiving awards of international recognition.
Alternatively, the EB-2 applicant filing for exceptional abilities does not require proof of national or international recognition. However, he/she must provide documentation of educational certifications and important contributions to his/her industry.
If the EB-2 green card applicant does not file an National Interest Waiver petition, the applicant is obligated to obtain a PERM Labor Certification and an offer of employment from a U.S. employer.
Difference in Processing Time
EB1 Green Card Processing Time
In general, the EB-1 green card processing time is much faster than EB-2 wait time for most applicants. There are two reasons for that:
- EB-1 Green Card does not require PERM certification, resulting in a significant reduction in EB1 processing time.
- All of the chargeability countries have current priority dates. This means that a visa number will be available the month that you file your petition.
Because of these two factors, you only need to wait for your I-130 petition to be reviewed and processed. Depending on how busy your local USCIS center is, it may take a few weeks to several months for this to be done.
EB2 Green Card Processing Time
The EB-2 processing time is usually delayed when compared to the EB-1 processing time because of the necessity for a Labor Certification and the fact that petitioners from India and China must wait several years for their priority dates to be current.
The USCIS only grants 140,000 employment based immigrant visas annually. Because of this, applicants in lower green card preference categories may need to wait a significant amount of time before a visa number will become available. This will greatly increase the EB-2 processing time as well as that of lower preferences.
Therefore, an applicant would need to first wait for their LCA to be approved before their employers file an I-130 petition. Then they would need to wait until the DOS announces that their priority date is current. If the applicant’s priority date will not be current for a significant amount of time, the petition will not be processed until much closer to your priority date.
However, please note that the way that the USCIS prioritizes your I-130 will not impact your priority date. They should process your petition before your priority date becomes current.
Thus most applicants have to wait several months or years to apply for adjustment of status (I-485), which leads to a long EB-2 green card processing time for these applicants. The availability of visa numbers for EB-1 and EB-2 categories can be found in the US Department of state visa bulletin.
Can I Use Premium Processing?
Premium processing is an optional service offered by the USCIS that expedites the processing time of certain petition forms to 15 calendar days for an additional fee. Fortunately, the I-140 is one of those petitions, giving you the opportunity to drastically shorten your EB-1 or EB-2 processing time.
However, there are some things to note before going ahead with premium processing. It cannot be used to expedite any other form in the green card process, only the I-140. Also, it does not increase your chances of approval at all, it only shortens the amount of time it takes for the USCIS to reach a decision.
Lastly, premium processing can not be used for any I-140 petitions filed for the EB-1C green card for managers and executives and the EB-2 National Interest Waiver.
Can I Apply for Both At the Same Time?
There is no limit to the number of petitions you can submit for different green cards. Therefore, if you would like to increase your chances of being selected for any green card, you may want to consider filing for the EB-1 and the EB-2 simultaneously. This way, if you are not approved for one, you may be approved for the other. If you are approved for both, then you can choose whichever green card suits your needs. Keep in mind that you will still need to pay the fees for both petitions.
Are There Differences in Cost?
The I-140 carries the same filing fee regardless of which green card you choose. The same also goes for the premium processing fee. The real difference in cost doesn’t come from whether you choose the EB-1 or the EB-2, it more depends on whether you adjust your status or go through consular processing. Additionally, your immigration attorney may have differing fees depending on which green card you choose. You can see our flat charges on our fees page.
Can I Port From an EB-2 to an EB-1?
This question is usually asked by those that already have an I-140 filed for the EB-2 green card. Technically, there is no way to simply switch your petition to a different green card. However, if your qualifications change and you obtain a new job that makes you eligible for the EB-1 green card, you may be able to file a new petition for the EB-1 and retain your EB-2 priority date.
How Our EB2 Green Card Attorneys Can Help
The Fort Lauderdale immigration attorneys have successfully handled a range of employment-based immigration cases. Our green card lawyers can advise you as to the best course of action for your situation.
During our consultation, our attorneys will first identify if you meet the eligibility requirements for either the visa. They will also discuss with you the EB-1 and EB-2 green card processing time, your employment skills, and more.