What is the EB-3 Unskilled (Other Workers) Visa?

Chris Richardson
April 20, 2021

Many employers have a difficult time finding applicants for certain unskilled and low skilled workers. The EB-3 Visa was meant to solve that. EB-3 refers to the fact that this visa category is the “3rd preference” of employment-based visas. Only a limited number of visas are available in each preference category, meaning that if more people apply in a year than there are visas available, recent applicants will have to be put on a waiting list. The numbers are limited to 10,000 visas per year for this preference category under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1990. The numbers replenish each year. This once 10,000 is reached for a fiscal year, then immigrant visa category applicants must wait for the new fiscal year to see new numbers. Each country is capped at receiving only 7% of the available number of visas available. EB-3 visas require that an employer offer permanent, full-time employment from a U.S. based employer.

That employer must be willing to complete a labor certification and application process. Labor certification means that the employer recruits for, and advertises, the position in accordance with U.S. immigration law guidelines and finds no qualified U.S. workers who are willing and available to take the job. Once the foreign national completes the labor certification process, they must be petitioned (“sponsored”) by the employer through a form called the I-140 with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The foreign national can either already be in the United States and adjust their status in order to obtain their Green Card or they can interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

What is the process to obtain the EB-3 Unskilled Visa?

A foreign national can obtain the EB-3 Unskilled Visa by either (1) adjusting their status in the United States from a student visa or other type of visa to the EB-3 Visa or (2) applying overseas to be interviewed at the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Step 1: Permanent Labor Certification

A permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. Before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition (USCIS Form I-140) to the DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer must obtain a certified labor certification application from the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The DOL must certify to the USCIS that there are not sufficient U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job opportunity in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

The Job Offer The Employer offers the position to the foreign national, contingent on there being no qualified U.S. worker who will apply for the position in the subsequent recruitment.

Prevailing Wage Request Filing The ETA 9141 prevailing wage request form contains the position details (job title, duties, requirements, work location) and requests the minimum required wage from the Department of Labor (DOL). Processing time is currently approximately 5 months. You can use our proprietary prevailing wage level calculator app to accurately predict the prevailing wage.

Advertising PERM labor certification recruitment for unskilled workers requires 2 print ads in the Major Sunday Newspaper, a 30 day posting with the State Workforce Agency, and an internal PERM Notice of Filing. These recruitment procedures exist to ensure that employers are not depriving qualified U.S. workers of employment.

ETA 9089 Labor Certification Filing Once the recruitment period has ended, and there are no qualified U.S. workers who applied for the advertised position, the ETA 9089 PERM Labor Certification can be filed.

Step 2A: I-140 USCIS Filing AND I-485 Adjustment of Status Filing
Once the labor certification process is complete, the employer and the foreign national petition DHS for the EB-3 immigrant visa with a form called an I-140. If the foreign national is in the United States in some other legal status such as a student visa or an E-2 visa, the foreign national will adjust their status to EB-3 under a form called an I-485 with DHS. Once both the I-140 and I-485 are approved, the foreign national will interview at DHS and, if no problems exist, be approved for the Green Card.

Step 2B: Consular Processing As soon as the I-140 petition is approved by USCIS the foreign national will receive an email from the National Visa Center with instructions on what documentation to bring to the interview at the U.S. Embassy. Once the foreign national receives the permanent residence visa they will be able to travel to the U.S. to start their permanent employment with the sponsoring organization.

To determine your eligibility or to see if the EB-3 Unskilled Visa would be a good fit for you, register for an account here. You will also be able to chat our team with your questions.

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