All green cards are the same; they all give you the right to live and work permanently in the United States. But there are dozens of different paths to the green card. This article discusses the path most commonly used by foreign workers: the Labor Certification system, also known as PERM.

The labor certification process is a means by which an employer can show that there are no available United States workers for a position, so that a foreign worker can be admitted to the United States as a permanent resident.

A few basic points of the system:

* You need an employer to sponsor you. It can be your current employer or one that promises to hire you in the future.
* The offered job must be full-time.

* The employer will have to advertise the position in the local Sunday newspaper and three other locations. The Department of Labor has very strict rules about how the advertising must be done.

* The employer must be able to show that U.S. citizens or permanent residents who apply for the job are NOT qualified.

So far pretty easy, right? Here's where it gets a little tricky:

The employer can define what the minimal requirements for the job are, BUT the Department of Labor won't allow the employer to set the requirements too high. For example, an employer can't require a Bachelor's degree for a babysitter. Nor can it require a Master's degree for an entry-level programmer position.

Even if the Department of Labor allows the employer to require a high degree or many years of previous experience, the offered salary must rise as the minimal requirements for the job increase.

Because of these two rules, the lawyer's job in a Labor Certification case is to work with the employer to accurately define the job's requirements, taking into account the salary, the employee's education and experience, and the education and experience of others working in the same job.

This is where the EB-2 vs EB-3 distinction comes in:
EB-2 is the category for jobs that require a Master's degree OR a Bachelor's degree plus 5 years' previous experience.

EB-3 is the category for jobs that require a Bachelor's degree (or even if no bachelor's degree is required, a job that requires 2 years' previous experience).

So why does this matter? Simple. THE EB-2 CATEGORY IS SEVERAL YEARS FASTER THAN THE EB-3 CATEGORY. That's why we try to do as many cases as possible in the EB-2 category.

For persons born in most countries, the EB-2 category does not have a waiting line. This means that you can apply for work permission through your green card case as soon as your employer shows there are no U.S. workers for the job offered. It also means that you have the ability to change employers sooner.

For persons born in India and China, the EB-2 category has a waiting list of about 3-5 years.

The EB-3 category requires you to wait in line about 2-3 years, although for Mexicans, Indians and Chinese, the wait can be much longer, maybe even more than 6-8 years.

13 Comments

Comment added on 26 May 2009 by Miateresa:
My husband started the process of residence with EB-3category and now the company gave my husband a higher position and they told my husband to talk with the attorney to exchange for EB-2 category. Now we don't know if the previous process will stop and start again, or it will continue? Could you help us to know? Thanks in advance.
Comment added on 10 Sep 2009 by Srik:
My company filed my EB3 in June 2007, Can this be upgraded to EB2 now as I see that EB3 is somewhere in April 2001 for country India. Thank you for input on this.
Comment added on 11 Mar 2010 by princetide:
Job Description: Bachelors'degree required. Minimum of 3-5 years of experience required. Does this position qualify for EB2?
Comment added on 17 Mar 2010 by shrini82:
I have total experience of 6 years. My company is willing to sponsor my GC. Before joining this company, I have around 4 years experience. Would they file me under EB2 or EB3?
Comment added on 01 Apr 2010 by kumhar:
I am an Electronics and Telecom Engineer (Bachelor in Engg) and had experience of 8 Year in 2008. Please tell me if I qualify for EB2.
Comment added on 03 Apr 2010 by tampabuddy:
Hi Shrini82, Even I have the same case. I have 6 years of experience and before joining the company, even I had 4.8 Years of experience. Not sure under which category will I fall. Please share in this forum if you get any information.
Comment added on 20 Jun 2010 by luvfabric:
Hi there, Is there a salary requirements for EB3? I heard that there is more strict salary requirement for EB2 from level 1 to 4...Where can I find the salary chart for specific occupation? Please let me know.
Comment added on 14 Aug 2010 by mida3133:
My Labor was certified in July 2010. How do i know Attorney filed my labor in EB2 or EB3
Comment added on 08 Dec 2010 by sdeb82:
what if I'm an Indian Citizen who was born in Kuwait? Does the waiting period for EB2 still apply to me?
Comment added on 26 Nov 2011 by Acet92:
I am being sponsored as a preschool teacher. I have a bachelor's degree and more than 10 years experience. Will I be qualified for the EB-2 category?
Comment added on 16 Feb 2012 by masteruten:
if you are an indian citizen and born in kuwait you will still be an indian
Comment added on 16 Feb 2012 by masteruten:
it's the same question as, I am a duck and was born in a chicken's nest, am I chicken now ?
Comment added on 26 Apr 2012 by araghu87:
I have above 6 years of experience as QA Analyst and i am holding bachelor (4 years) degree in Computer Science and Engineering.Right now i am working in US.I joined in this company from India and worked 3.2 years in India.Then i got transferred to US on H1b and past 4 months i am working here.Before joining this company i do have 2.8 years of experience on this same field (QA). My company is willing to sponsor my GC.Would they file me under EB2 or EB3?
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