eb1 eb2 eb3 green steps

US Green Card Process Steps and Stages for EB1, EB2 and EB3

Raghu Green Card 269 Comments

In this article (and video), you can learn about the Green Card Process and various steps involved for EB1, EB2 and EB3 category. You may be applying for Green Card via Employment Based (EB) from H1B or L1 or another visa status, but for the most part, the EB2 and EB3 steps remain the same. Here’s a quick top level view about three stages of Employment Based Green Card process for the USA.

EB 2 and EB3 Green Card Steps

There are three stages for Green Card for EB2 and EB3.

  1. Stage 1: PERM/Labor Certification Stage (EB1  and EB2 NIW doesn’t require this Stage)
  2. Stage 2: I-140 Immigrant Petition Stage
  3. State 3: I-485 Adjustment of Status Stage

Note: Employment Based Green Card process is driven by Employer and cannot be self-sponsored. But, there are an instance, where it can be self-sponsored. Details are listed below.

Let’s take a step back and start with an overview of ways to get U.S. Green Card and then dive into stages of EB1, EB2 and EB3 based Green Card.There are two main path’s to obtain Green Card in the USA (lawful permanent resident status)

There are two main path’s to obtain Green Card in the USA (lawful permanent resident status)

  1. Family-based Green Card Categories
  2. Employment Based Green Card – EB1, EB2, and EB3.

Note: There are other ways, like Green Card Lottery, EB4, and EB5, etc. But that’s not in the scope of this. I’m going to focus on Employment Based Green Card Process (EB1, EB2 and EB3 Steps) and Various stages involved.

If you are working in H1B Visa, L1B Visa or another non-immigrant work visa, you most likely to through the following steps for your Employer Sponsored Green Card.

 

 

Stage 1: PERM Labor Certification

  • PERM/Labor Certification stage is the first step in the green card process for EB2 and EB3.
  • PERM stands for Program for Electronic Review Management.

During this PERM Labor Certification step,  Employer has to prove that there are no qualified American Citizens or Permanent Residents for this positions and foreign workers not taking jobs away from U.S. citizens.

What Happens during PERM Labor Certification Stage?

Here is an overview of what happens at work place before green card process begins.

  • HR Manager or your Manager notifies company’s Immigration Attorney about filing Green Card.
  • Initial Meeting: Manager, Employee, HR and Immigration Attorney
  • Job Description: Drafted, revised and finalized.
  • Prevailing Wage determination request submitted to Department of Labor (DOL) by Immigration Attorney
  • Followed by Recruitment Phase – Handled by your employer’s HR
  • If no qualified US workers identified, Attorney would file PERM Labor Condition application with DOL.
  • The Date, when the PERM application is filed with DOL, is your Priority Date (PD).
  • DOL processes and approves PERM Labor Certification.

PERM Labor Certification Timeline:

  • Initial Conversation to Job Description Finalization: 1 to 3 Months (It can take longer in larger firms)
  • Prevailing Wage Determination: About 2 to 5 months
  • Recruitment and Filing: 3 to 6 months
  • PERM Labor Approval: 2 to 8 months. (as of Oct 2015, PERM approval time is 7 months)

If PERM Labor is filed 365 before the H-1B visa Expiry date and still pending, H1B Visa can be extended in 1-year increments.

Processing Times for PWR and PERM Applications

Processing Time for Prevailing Wage and PERM Labor application approval for Green Card varies. You can find the for both PWR and PERM Labor Application here –  current processing times here. Following screenshots shows where to look for the Processing Times.

find pwr and perm processing times

Next, let’s dive deeper into finding the Processing Times for Wage Determination and PERM Labor Application Processing.

PWR Processing Times

green crd prevaling wage processing times

How to read the above PWR table?

  • As of March 2017, its taking Department of Labor them 100 days to issue the Prevailing Wage Determination for the position that would be posted and recruited.
  • Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

PERM Labor application Processing Times

perm labor application processing times

How to read the above PERM Processing Tabel?

  • As of March/31/2017, DOL is processing applications submitted in Jan 2017.
  • That’s 4 months to process PERM for Cler Cut Cases – Analyst Review.
  • If there’s Audit, then it’s taking 9 months to Process PERM Applications

But, Jan 2017 has 31 days. wouldn’t it be better if they gave an average day it takes to process?

perm labor application processing days

That’s what we get from the above table. 78 days for Clear Cases and 234 days on average for Audit cases. After the PERM Labor application is approved, you have cleared the Stage 1 of the Green Card Process. Next, we deal with Department of Home Security (USCIS) for Stage 2 – I140

 

Stage 2: I-140 Immigration Application

Next step in the Green Card process is I-140 Immigration Application. After Labor Certification Application has been certified by DOL I-140 application can be filed.

Why I-140?

  • Verify employee meets job requirements specified on the PERM/Labor Certification Application
  • Verify the sponsoring employer can pay the offered wages to the employee.

After I-140 is approved, H-1B employee will be able to extend the H1B for 3 years period beyond initial 6 years.

EB2-NIW

  • There’s special category for EB2, called EB2 NIW.
  • NIW stands for National Interest Waiver. 
  • Stage 1 – PERM Labor is not required for EB2 NIW
  • EB2 NIW would be filed as Self-Petitioned.

Processing Time for I140 Applications

I-140 application can be done via Regular or Premium Processing. As far I  know, the majority of applicants opt for Premium Processing.

Approved I-140 gives the benefit for the spouse of H1B Visa applicants to apply for H4 EAD.

To find the Regular Processing Time for go to USCIS Processing Time Page.

Then select the Service Center – Nebraska, Texas or Vermont Service centers.

uscis processing times i140

Next look for I-140 applications ( following is for Nebraska Service Center)

i140 processign times nebraska service center

At the time of this writing, it’s taking USCIS about 8 months to process I-140 via Regular Processing.

Note: There ‘s no Premium Processing for EB2 NIW cases. 

After I-140 is approved, the waiting game begins. For applicants from India, China the wait times span multiple years

  1. US Green Card Waiting Time Based on Pending Applications

Good News (Jan 2017): I-140 Cannot Be Revoked

I-140 EAD Rule went into effect on Jan 17, 2017. Ad per the rule, employers can’t revoke approved I-140 after 6 months of Approvals in most cases. Read the summary of EAD I140 Rule for more details. Why is that important? Employee can switch jobs fter I-140 is approved without losing their Priority Date in the process of transfering to new job.

How is that a good news?

Green Card applicants with approved I-140 with Employer A can switch to a new employer without losing their Priority Date in the process of transferring to a new job.

Their spouse, if they are on H4 EAD, they can continue to work, as Approved I-140 is required for H4 EAD to be active.

Stage 3: I-485 Adjustment of Status

Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status, the actual green card application which will be filed after I-140 application is approved by USCIS.

Green card visa number is available based on

  • Applicants country of birth
  • Employment-based classification
  • Priority date of the Applicant

The priority date is the date that the PERM/Labor Certification Application was filed with the DOL (EB2 and EB3).

For EB1, date I-140 is filed with USCIS is the Priority Date.

Long wait times are due to the unavailability of Green Card Visa numbers.

There is a certain number of Green card applications are made available per year per category per country.

Every month Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin,  with available visa numbers based on priority dates. Visa Bulletin now includes Final Action Dates and Filing Dates.

Final Action Dates for Employment Based Green Card

As of  May 2017 Visa Bulletin, USCIS is processing I-485 application for Indian Nationals who have PD on 22 June 2008. I’m updating this article in April 2017. That about 9 years difference. But, actual wait times for Green Card doesn’t translate to exact 9 years.

visa bulletin employment based final action dates

During President Obama Administration, Filing Dates chart were introduced that would allow applicants to file I-1485 much earlier than Final Action Dates. Here’s current (May 2017) Filing dates for I-485

i485 filing dates may 2017 visa bulletin

Current Filing Dates

  • EB2 India – 01 Feb 2009
  • EB3 India – 22 April 2006
  • EB2 China – o1 Oct 2013
  • EB3 China – 01 Sep 2015

If you compare final Action Dates for EB2 India, there’s about 8 months difference. That should give relief for some applicants to apply for I-485 and EAD.

While filing I-485 application, you could file for EAD and Travel Permit (Advanced Parole). And for others, there’s long waiting time.

Note: The Dates in the Visa Bulletin can Move backward (called Retrogression). For example, EB2 India in October 2016 Visa Bulletin was in May 2005 and after 7 months, dates moved from 2005 to 2008.

Green Card Processing Time

  • People wait for 4 to 6 years in this stage in EB2 (for India)
  • One of my co-workers got EB3 India Green Card in Oct 2015 after waiting for 13 years

If the priority date moves back from after you file for I-485, then visa numbers will not be available.

You would have to wait till visa numbers available to get Green Card. That’s when folks apply for EAD.

What about EB1 Category?

For EB1 green card process, there are just 2 stages.

  1. Stage 1: I-140 Immigrant Petition
  2. State 2: I-485 Adjustment of Status

As you can see, there is no PERM Labor Certification step and dates are Current (C) in the Visa Bulletin for EB1. Plus, there is another option called National Interest Waiver (NIW) category for EB2, where PERM Labor is not required (which we discussed before).

Questions and Answers about Green Card Process

1. Is it possible to do Green Card without H1B Visa?

Yes, it’s possible for an employer to apply for Green Card without H1B or L visa, but most likely they would not do that if you are from a country where the backlogs are huge.

2. I’m on STEM OPT and did not get selected in H1B Visa Lottery, can my employer apply for Green Card. I’m from China.

The employer can start your Green Process while on F1 Visa. But, once your STEM OPT time runs out, you will need work authorization to continue to work in the USA. You can have this discussion with your employer about this.

3. I heard about Green Card via EB5 Investment option is faster. Is that true?

Yes, if you (or your parents) can invest $500,000 or $1,000,000 dollars, then you can get Conditional Green Card in less than 2 years.

Green Card Article Series

  1. How Long Does it Take to Get Green Card in the USA for Eb1, EB2, and EB3
  2. Green Card Steps for  EB2 and EB3 Explained ( this article )
  3. Green Card Visa Numbers availability for E1, EB2, and EB3
  4. US Green Card Waiting Time Based on Pending Applications
  5. Immigration Path: Steps for an F1 Visa to Become U.S. Citizenship

Comments

  1. Can i change job location with the same employer immediately after i140 approval? Would it require PERM and i140 filing again? If yes then what’s the best stage when i can change job location with the same employer?

    1. Author

      This can be answered only by your employer and employer’s attorney.

  2. thanks for the summary.
    can you be more specific about who is an EB and so on.
    if i have a PhD i am what? do i have to go thru the Perm? can I apply on my won?
    Thanks

  3. “How is that a good news?

    Green Card applicants with approved I-140 with Employer A can switch to a new employer without losing their Priority Date in the process of transferring to a new job.”

    How is it different from earlier situation. Earlier, after i140 is approved. if you switch company, The new Employer B has to file Perm and i140 (but PD can be adjusted to the date of processing of Employer A).

    Even now I believe if you change employer you still have to go along with Perm and i140 processing as well.

  4. Hi Raghu,

    Thanks for writing this article and updating it with recent data.

    So based on the current priority dates, does that mean that folks who although filed in EB-2 with a PERM filing date in last 2-3 months, may have to wait >10-15 years to get green card?

    1. Author

      That’s’ how it look likely. If there are no spillovers to Eb2 India, how would dates move?

  5. I need your help to find eb3 jobs and visa support. I’m from Bangladesh, please let me know if you can help me in this regards

  6. Hello Raghu,

    I understand “Final Action Date” is at Jun 08 because of the huge backlog. But why does the “Filing Date” does not seem to move at all?

    Also in one of your earlier comment, you have mentioned, “EB2 – PD 2013 – At the current PD movement, you are thinking 4 to 5 more years of wait”. Even though it is 3 months old comment, do you still think it is realistic?

    Thanks,

    1. Author

      I’m thinking its even lot longer than 2 to 3 years for Eb2 in 2013. Well, Obama administration implemented Filing Dates and the very first month, it was pulled back. Even with April 2009, they would have enough I-485 petitions to estimate the demand. PD for EB2 had come to 2010 once. Without spill over, EB2 India almost same as EB3 India!!

  7. What’s the difference between the H1B and EB3? Which one has more advantage, if I just graduated from graduation school and got a job at the hospital.

  8. I have my PD Aug 2008. Based on the dates for filing of employement based visa category, my attorney has applied for my I485, I131, I765 and G325. I just finished my biometrics too. What is the next step and how many months or years I have to wait? what are the next steps

    1. BTW my category is EB2 India which got ported from EB3 (old company) to EB2 (new company) in 2016

  9. Hi Raghu – I’m on EB2 (PD = Aug2013) and my I-140 got approved. When can I expect my PD to become current (approx. timeline) considering EB2?

    Also, I had my I-140 approved twice, once with employer-A and currently with employer-B (with same PD). IF I switch my job now back to employer-A, will they have to re-do all steps till i-140?

    Please suggest. Thank you!

    1. Author

      EB2 – PD 2013 – At the current PD movement, you are thinking 4 to 5 more years of wait. Oct 2016 Pending 485 data were published today. About 19,000 applications are pending before April 2010. About 1200 average month. About 8 to 10k EB2 is issued per year. So, do that math for a rough estimate.

    1. Author

      There is not set time limit. Go with what your attorney says.

  10. I find this forum most current and helpful.

    My I-140 approved recently in EB2. I am planning to switch employer.

    a. Is there any period of time, I need to at least need to continue with same employer before switching so that that employer can not revoke the I-140. I heard it’s 180 day but not sure on this or not found from any official link.
    b. Any expected date of new law to implement for I-140 transfer without perm process?

  11. Dear Sir,

    I am from Bangladesh. Recently many companies have been working as agents for providing EB 3 visa for US in Bangladesh and they are committing that it takes 1 year to get green card after stepping in US and working for an employer for 1 year. Actually how many days does it take to get the green card in EB 3?

  12. Hi Raghu ,

    Need your quick suggestion

    Can i retain my PD if employer revokes I 140 ? I have changed from Employer A to Employer B

    1. Author

      This question should be posted to an Attorney.

      As far I know, the law allows retention of priority date even after I-140 is revoked by the employer. But, I have *read* that USCIS sometimes doesn’t follow the same and they may not port the date. So, you should talk to your new employer’s attorney.

    2. I am asad from bangladesh.some company saying that they deal with EB3 program.they told that we can get green card with 5 family members and it may take 2 years to get green card and fly with it to usa.I am confused with time and authenticity.please help me.

      thanks

  13. Hi Raghu
    My company is helping me with the green card process for USA. My I-140 was approved few months ago. I cannot proceed with I-485 application as the time when my EB2 priority date (Sept 2014) becomes current is many years away.

    I had also applied for Canadian PR and it has already been approved. So if I move to Canada now, I can live & work there as a permanent resident.

    In the future, can I come back to USA when my EB2 priority date becomes current ? and continue my green card process ?
    As far as I understand, my new USA employer would have to start the green card process again under EB2 but my old priority date(Sept 2014) can be used so I don’t have to wait to file I-485.

    Are there any issues with this ?

    Thank you.

  14. My company is helping me with the green card process for USA. My I-140 was approved few months ago. I cannot proceed with I-485 application as the time when my EB2 priority date (Sept 2014) becomes current is many years away.

    I had also applied for Canadian PR and it has already been approved. So if I move to Canada now, I can live & work there as a permanent resident.

    In the future, can I come back to USA when my EB2 priority date becomes current ? and continue my green card process ?
    As far as I understand, my new USA employer would have to start the green card process again under EB2 but my old priority date(Sept 2014) can be used so I don’t have to wait to file I-485.

    Are there any issues with this ?

    Thank you.

  15. Hi, Raghu! I like the way you presented the GC process. It’s so easy for me to understand. My question is …. if I can forcast that my priority date is about to come out (maybe next month), what preparations should I make? Do me and my family have to do medical again? If yes, which types esp if its 2 to 3 years ago already? All my 6 friends were able to get their gc but mine (and another friend’s) reverted back. Is the INS giving me a letter what to do?

    Thank you again for being helpful.
    Marie

  16. Hi Raghu,

    I am a citizen of Jamaica. I am just curious about the timeline a little. I’ve already applied for my green card through EB3 (received date May 25th) with priority date August 4th, 2015. I’ve already received EAD/AP, and I did my biometrics about a month ago. Do you have an idea when I might hear back regarding the green card?

    What is strange is that the receipt number still isn’t available on the USCIS’ website to track.

    Thanks

  17. Hello,

    Thank you for your information. I am currently on OPT STEM and my employer want to apply for Green card. I asked attorney of company to show me all the document before submitting them to DOL, but he said it’s illegal to show me anything. But I want to show my docs to another attorney to make sure everything is perfect.

    Is it really illegal? Please let me know.

    1. Author

      They are not going to give it to you. GC is employer driven process!

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