Immigrant Visas
(for Permanent Residency/Green Card)

Frequently asked questions

Green Cards


are valid for a period of 10 years. Once a Beneficiary has been a Permanent Resident for 5 years, he or she can apply for Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen. If the Green Card was obtained based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, the Beneficiary need only wait 3 years before applying for Naturalization.




EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons with Exceptional Ability


The EB-2 employment-based permanent resident classification is reserved for individuals who fall into one of three categories:

  1. Advanced Degree,
  2. Exceptional Ability,
  3. and National Interest Waiver.
Advanced Degree For the Advanced Degree category, the foreign national must possess a Master’s or higher degree (or its equivalent) in a specific profession and be employed in a position that would require such a degree. Generally, holders of employment-based (H-1B, O-1) or student visa (F-1) classifications will apply for this classification. Exceptional Ability The Exceptional Ability Category requires the foreign national to demonstrate that he or she has gained national or international recognition for past work in the arts, science, or business. The Applicant must also demonstrate that he or she will be employed in a position that requires his or her specific exceptional ability. Often, O-1 outstanding ability nonimmigrant classification holders will apply for this category, given the similarities of the two classifications. National Interest Waiver The National Interest Waiver category is substantially similar to the Exceptional Ability category described above. The one difference is that the foreign national, can request a waiver of the U.S. employer requirement by demonstrating that he or she will bring skills or talent that is highly beneficial to the U.S. Often, O-1 outstanding ability nonimmigrant classification holders will apply for this category based on the similarities of the two classifications, and because an employer is not required.




EB-3: Bachelor's Degree, Skilled, Unskilled Workers


  • While the EB-3 classification covers a variety of professional and unskilled categories, the primary category is the “professionals” category. This is reserved for individuals who possess at least a Bachelor’s Degree (or its equivalent) in a specific profession, and will be working in a position that requires such a degree.
  • While any nonimmigrant classification can be adjusted to this classification, the vast majority of nonimmigrant classification holders who apply for the EB-3 classification hold H-1B Specialty Occupation classifications. This is primarily due to the fact that both the H-1B and the EB-3 classifications have similar underlying requirements.
  • Applicants without a Bachelor’s Degree, such as those on the H-2B for Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers, may apply for the EB-3 unskilled category.




EB-1: Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Researchers/Professors, International Managers/Executive


is an employment-based Permanent Resident classification is reserved for individuals who fall into one of three categories:

  1. Extraordinary Ability
  2. Outstanding Professor or Researcher
  3. Multinational Manager or Executive.
The corresponding nonimmigrant classification that can lead to EB-1 Permanent Residence depends on the specific EB-1 category sought by the Applicant. However, none of these categories requires a nonimmigrant classification as a prerequisite because they can all be obtained by a qualifying foreign national outside the U.S. via consular processing. Extraordinary Ability: This is a self-petitioning category that does not require a prior nonimmigrant visa, but the most typical visas issued as a precursor to the EB-1 are the O-1A and O-1B visas for individuals with extraordinary ability. However, some nonimmigrant classifications do not permit Adjustment of Status in the US, including the Visa Waiver Program, K-1 fiancée classification, and J-1 visas that have a 2-year home country requirement. Outstanding Professor or Researcher: This is a category created specifically for leading academics. While most nonimmigrant classifications can be adjusted to this immigrant category, the most common types are academic or employment-based classifications, such as an F-1 student, H-1B “Specialty Occupation,” or O-1 Outstanding Ability visa. Multinational Executive or Manager: While most nonimmigrant classifications could be adjusted to this category, this is the one category under the EB-1 classification that has a specific corresponding non-immigrant classification--the L-1A Multinational Executive/Manager classification. In order to qualify for the EB-1-3, the applicant must demonstrate executive or managerial employment abroad with a qualifying entity for at least one year in the past three years.





An “Immigrant Visa petition” is an application to obtain Permanent Residency or “Green Card.” The petition may be filed by (1) an employer, (2) the Applicant himself or herself, or (3) by a family member. “Family members” can be: (1) a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident spouse, (2) a U.S. citizen child over the age of 21, or (3) a U.S. Citizen parent. In some instances, such as the EB-1, a foreign national can “self-petition” on his or her own behalf if she or she can

demonstrate an exceptional ability in his or her profession.


An immigrant petition (Form I-140) must first be approved by USCIS before the applicant can take the next step to Adjust Status to that of a Permanent Resident with Form I-485. Once the I-140 application is approved, applicants residing outside of the United States must attend an interview abroad at a U.S. consulate or embassy. If the visa is approved, it will be
placed in the passport and returned to the Beneficiary within a week. The immigrant visa is not in itself proof of Permanent Residence, but is merely the documentation necessary to enter the U.S. as a Permanent Resident. Once the Beneficiary is inspected by an immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry, the Beneficiary receives a stamp on the visa, and mandatory departure date on an I-94 form. Once the Beneficiary has been admitted to the U.S., the Beneficiary will receive a
Green Card.


Applicants residing within the United States may submit a form I-485 to USCIS to Adjust their Status to that of Permanent Resident. In this case, they will not actually obtain an immigrant visa, but rather will be granted immigrant status (Permanent Residence), as evidenced by a Green Card. 


Green Cards are valid for a period of 10 years. Once a Beneficiary has been a Permanent Resident for 5 years, he or she can apply for Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen. If the Green Card was obtained based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, the Beneficiary need only wait 3 years before applying for Naturalization.

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