It is the dream of many foreign nationals to be able to live and work in the U.S. permanent as green card holders. While there are many ways of realizing this dream, some are more difficult than others. The EB-3 visa has advantages in that the requirements are relatively low, but the EB-3 processing time for 2017 can be a deterring factor. Find out how long it will take to get your green card in this post.
Let us first take a look at what goes into obtaining an EB-3 green card and the steps required so that we can have an accurate understanding of the 2017 EB-3 processing time.
The EB-3 is the third preference level of employment-based green cards. It’s advantages lie in the fact that the requirements are not as difficult to achieve as the preceding two categories. You don’t need internationally acclaimed awards, an executive position in a U.S. company, or even an advanced education. To qualify for an EB-3 green card, you must fall into one of the following categories:
- A foreign professional with a bachelor’s degree. You must be able to prove that your occupation requires your particular degree.
- A skilled worker with at least 2 years of experience performing the tasks of your job.
- An unskilled worker. This category has differing priority dates and requires your job to be permanent and not seasonal or temporary. You do not need work experience for this category, and so almost anyone who acquires a permanent job in the U.S. can obtain an EB-3 green card.
What Goes Into the EB3 Process?
In order to get this green card, you must go through the usual employment-based green card process.
- You first need to find an employer willing to sponsor you for your green card
- You employer then needs to acquire a PERM Labor Certification for you. This will involve implementing a recruitment process to ensure that no qualified U.S. workers are available or willing to take your position.
- Once a PERM has been obtained, your employer can then file an I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on your behalf.
- After the petition is filed, you will need to wait until your priority date is current. We will go into this step in more detail below.
- When your priority date is current, an immigrant visa number will be available and you can apply to change your status by filing an I-485 adjustment of status form. If you are outside the U.S., you will be able to complete your DS-260 Online Immigrant Visa Application and go through the consular processing interview.
How do Green Card Priority Dates Work?
Your priority date is the day that the USCIS receives your I-140 petition. You will need to keep this date in mind when checking the monthly visa bulletin released by the Department of State. Each year, there is a limit on how many immigrant visas are granted in each category. When the limit goes over, a backlog is created that can cause some people to wait several years.
The visa bulletin will provide the final action dates for each green card category according to the applicant’s country of origin. Keep an eye on the date in your category. Here is an example:
Diana is a nurse from the Philippines who wants to work as a nurse in the U.S. To check if her priority date is current, she should go to the most recent visa bulletin and locate the third row under the employment-based category. When the date in the Philippines’ column matches or passes her priority date, she will be able to apply for a change of status and obtain her green card.
Herein lies the problem with the EB-3 processing time in 2017. For the citizens of select countries (i.e. China and India), the final action dates can be backlogged for more than ten years. This wait time must be taken into account when considering the total EB3 processing time.
What is the Overall EB-3 Processing Time?
So the real question is: how long will it take to get my EB-3 green card?
In order to answer this, we need to break down each step of the EB-3 process.
- The PERM Labor Certification Process can take as little as 6 months after the ETA-9089 application is filed. This does not include the 30 days of recruitment required and the 30 days that need to pass after the end of the recruitment before applying. If your employer is audited, it could extend the processing time up to a year and a half.
- Under normal circumstances, the I-140 petition takes about 6 months to process without premium processing. However, if the USCIS sees that your priority date will not be current for some time, your petition may be pushed back to a date that is closer to your priority date.
- The wait time for your priority date varies depending on your country of origin. However, for most countries, there is only a wait time of a few months.
- It may also take four to six months for your I-485 to be processed. There is no way to expedite this processing time.
Overall, for applicants from countries other than India, China, and the Philippines, you can expect your EB-3 processing time to be about a year and a half to two years. For citizens of those three countries, the processing time may be much longer. Don’t hesitate to contact your immigration attorney to learn if there is a way to shorten this time.
Can Premium Processing Help?
Fortunately, the USCIS offers an optional service to expedite the process of all visa petitions that use the I-129 or I-140 forms. By paying an additional fee of $1,225, you can shorten the processing time of your petition to 15 calendar days. However, this does not expedite any other step in the EB-3 process.
It is also important to note that, if your priority date will not be current for some time, premium processing may not help, as you cannot adjust your status until your priority date is current, even if your I-140 is approved. Also, premium processing will not increase your chances of having your petition approved. Speak with your immigration attorney to learn if this feature is right for your case.
What about Porting?
Because the wait times can be so long for certain priority dates, there are situations where an applicant gains the education or requirements necessary to upgrade his or her green card. If you originally applied for an EB-3 and gained your master’s degree while you waited, you could be eligible to reapply for an EB-2, which some people refer to as ‘porting’ (although, it isn’t so much porting as it is starting over from square one). You may also be able to retain your original priority date.
However, you would first need to get a different job that clearly required your new education. This can be achieved either through your current employer or with a new one. Here is an example:
Purna is an electrical engineer from India with his bachelor’s degree in that field. He applies for the EB-3, but his priority date will not be current for almost ten years. So, he continues his education and gets his master’s degree. In order to re-apply for an EB-2 under this new qualification, Purna needs to find a job either through a promotion or with a different employer that makes use of his new master’s degree.
If you are eligible to port your green card and you have found a suitable job, the employer that is sponsoring you for the new green card will need to obtain a new PERM Labor Certification for you before filing another I-140. Because this is a delicate process, always work alongside your immigration attorney in cases such as these.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Going through any immigration process alone is never a good idea. Like with any legal situation, it’s best to have an expert by your side.
The lawyers here at SGM Law Group have spent years working with employers and applicants alike to help people come to the U.S. to work. We specialize in employment-based visas and green cards.
Have questions about your EB-3 processing time in 2017? If you would like to contact one of our immigration attorneys, you can schedule a consultation. To do this, just fill out the form on our website and tell us about your case. Don’t go through the green card process alone. have our top-of-the-line attorneys work on your case!