Can EB3 Be Converted To EB1?

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Picture of Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Are you thinking about upgrading from an EB-3 green card to an EB-1, but don’t know where to start? Many people opt for the EB-3 visa when seeking permanent residency in the United States, but the longer waiting times can make upgrading to an EB-1 seem like an attractive option.

The word convert is perhaps the wrong choice of word here. If you have the legal requirements to apply for and win an EB-1 case, you can certainly obtain your green card on that basis, although you may have started an EB-3 case before. Why would you go from one category to another? One reason to go from an EB-3 to an EB-1 is that the latter does not require a sponsoring employer, and you can self-sponsor. If, for example, you no longer wish to work for the employer who is sponsoring you, this change of direction may be a good idea.

What if the bardo the visa bulletin, visas are not immediately available for the EB-1 category? This is when you can port or lend your EB-3 priority date for a later-filed EB-1, which will allow earlier priority date for the newly filed case to be pushed up, resulting in faster adjudication.

If you need legal advice about an immigration issue, you can find an attorney who offers a free consultation.

Our guide provides detailed information on eligibility requirements and procedures to help you make your immigration journey easier.

Read on to find out if you qualify for an easier path to the American Dream.

Key Takeaways

  • Transitioning from an EB-3 to an EB-1 visa is viable for individuals who align with the rigorous criteria of the EB-1 category. This transition is suited for exceptional talents, distinguished professors and researchers, or international managers and executives demonstrating the requisite capabilities and proven track record mandated by the law.

  • The EB-1 visa category stands out by potentially accelerating the green card process, eliminating the need for a job offer, and bypassing the labor certification required for the EB-3 visa, facilitating a more streamlined path to permanent residency.

  • Initiating a change from an EB-3 to an EB-1 necessitates the submission of a new Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, accompanied by extensive supportive documentation. This evidence must validate that the applicant’s skills, experiences, and professional accomplishments are commensurate with the high standards of the EB-1 category.

  • Applicants seeking to expedite their EB-1 application review can opt for premium processing, which promises a quicker adjudication time at an additional cost, potentially expediting their journey towards achieving permanent residency status in the United States.

Understanding EB1 and EB3 Visa Categories: A Comprehensive Guide

The EB1 and EB3 visa categories offer distinct pathways to permanent residency in the United States for foreign nationals, catering to a wide range of skills, achievements, and professional backgrounds. Each category is designed with specific eligibility requirements to accommodate the diverse pool of applicants.

EB1(a) – Persons of Extraordinary Ability

The EB1(a) category is designated for individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor, demonstrating extraordinary ability in areas such as the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must meet at least 3 out of the following 10 criteria to prove extraordinary ability:

  1. Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in their field.

  2. Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts.

  3. Published material about the applicant in professional, major trade publications, or other major media.

  4. Evidence of participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization.

  5. Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance.

  6. Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.

  7. Artistic exhibitions or showcases highlighting the applicant’s work.

  8. A leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.

  9. High salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.

  10. Commercial successes in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts or music sales.

No job offer is required for this category, allowing individuals to self-petition.

EB1(b) – Outstanding Professors and Researchers

This category targets individuals recognized with internationally recognized awards for their outstanding achievements in a particular academic field.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must demonstrate:

  1. International recognition for their outstanding achievements in an academic field.

  2. At least three years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area.

  3. An offer of employment from a prospective U.S. employer.

Evidence must include at least 2 of the following:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.

  • Membership in associations that demand outstanding achievement from their members.

  • Published material in professional publications written by others about the applicant’s work.

  • Participation as a judge of the work of others, in either the same or an allied academic field.

  • Original scientific or scholarly research contributions to the field.

  • Authorship of scholarly books or articles in scholarly journals with international circulation.

EB1(c) – Multinational Executives and Managers

The EB1(c) category facilitates the transfer of executives and managers who have been employed abroad in the same corporation or a subsidiary/affiliate.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • At least one year of employment abroad in a managerial or executive capacity with the same employer or its affiliate/subsidiary.

  • Intent to enter the United States to continue service to that employer in a managerial or executive capacity.

  • The U.S. employer has been doing business for at least one year.

EB3 - Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers

The EB3 category is for skilled workers, professionals with a baccalaureate, advanced degree”, and other workers performing unskilled labor.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Skilled Workers: Requires at least 2 years of job experience or training.

  • Professionals: Must possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent and be applying for a job that requires such a degree.

  • Other Workers (Unskilled Labor): Requires less than 2 years of training or experience.

All EB3 applicants must undergo the labor certification process (PERM) to demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position.

Comprehensive Application Requirements

Applying for any EB category involves detailed documentation and evidence to meet the stringent criteria set by U.S. immigration law. It is recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that all aspects of the application are accurately addressed, enhancing the chances of approval.

This guide provides an exhaustive overview of the EB1 and EB3 visa categories, detailing the pathways to U.S. permanent residency for foreign nationals based on their unique skills and achievements.

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How to Perform EB-3 to EB-1 Porting

To perform EB-3 to EB-1 porting, applicants need to understand the porting process and the benefits of EB-1 versus EB-3. This includes filing a new Form I-140 petition and meeting the specific eligibility criteria for the chosen category within the EB-1 visa. The word porting is used because at times, the visa numbers for EB-1 are not readily available and there is a waiting period before a visa becomes available. However, if you have previously filed an EB-3, the priority date for that case can be used for the new EB-1 filing, an upgrade process which is effect potentially pushed your case forward in line ahead of other EB-1 cases at the same time as yours.

EB-3 to EB-1 Porting Process

To perform EB-3 to EB-1 porting, ensure that the job responsibilities, education, skills, licenses, and certifications align with the requirements for the EB-1 category.

  1. Check Eligibility: Assess if your qualifications meet the criteria for extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, or multinational managers and executives under the EB-1 categories.

  2. Determine Job Equivalency: Understand how US Citizenship and Immigration Services evaluates job responsibilities, education, skills, licenses, and certifications to establish the same job classification for porting from EB-3 to EB-2 National Interest Waivers.

  3. File Form I-140: Complete and file Form I-140 for immigrant petition for alien workers under the appropriate EB-1 category based on your qualifications.

  4. Premium Processing Option: Consider utilizing premium processing services if available to expedite the I-140 petition process by paying an additional fee.

  5. Prepare Documentation: Gather all necessary documentation supporting your eligibility for the specific EB-1 category you are porting into.

  6. Seek Legal Guidance: Consult with an immigration attorney experienced in employment-based immigrant visas to ensure compliance with regulations and procedures.

  7. Track Priority Dates: Keep track of priority dates and understand how they may impact your transition from EB-3 to EB-1 status.

In-Depth Comparison: Benefits of EB-1 versus EB-3 Visas

Understanding the nuanced benefits between different visa categories is paramount when navigating the complex landscape of U.S. immigration. This knowledge not only aids in making informed decisions but also aligns one’s immigration strategy with one’s professional aspirations and long-term goals. The contrast between the EB-1 and EB-3 visa categories showcases a spectrum of advantages tailored to diverse applicant profiles.

EB-1 Visa: A Pathway for the Exceptionally Qualified

The EB-1 visa category is designed for a select group of applicants who have demonstrated extraordinary achievements and are recognized as being at the top of their field. This prestigious category immigrant visa comes with several compelling advantages:

  • Expedited Green Card Process: One of the most significant benefits of the EB-1 visa is the generally faster processing time for obtaining permanent residency. This category often has shorter waiting periods due to the availability of visa numbers, facilitating a quicker path to becoming a lawful permanent resident.

  • No Labor Certification Requirement: EB-1 applicants are exempt from the labor certification process (PERM), a requirement for most EB-2 and all EB-3 visa categories. This exemption simplifies the application process, reducing the time and documentation needed to prove there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position.

  • Self-Petitioning Capability: Individuals in the EB-1A subcategory (Persons of Extraordinary Ability) have the unique advantage of self-petitioning, meaning they do not need an employer to sponsor their green card application. This autonomy is particularly beneficial for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and professionals who wish to remain independent.

  • Priority Dates: EB-1 applicants often enjoy current or more favorable priority dates, resulting in shorter wait times for visa availability compared to EB-2 and EB-3 categories.

EB-3 Visa: Accessible Opportunities for a Broad Range of Professionals

While the EB-1 category targets the upper echelon of professionals, the EB-3 visa provides a practical route for skilled foreign workers and, professionals, and other workers. Despite its more extended processing times, the EB-3 visa remains an attractive option for many, offering the following benefits:

  • Broader Eligibility Criteria: The EB-3 category accommodates a wide variety of professionals, including those with bachelor’s degrees, skilled workers with at least two years of experience, and unskilled workers. This inclusivity ensures that a larger demographic of foreign nationals can pursue permanent residency based on employment.

  • Labor Certification as a Pathway: Though the requirement for labor certification (PERM) introduces an additional step in the application process, it also serves as a structured pathway to demonstrate the need for foreign talent in the U.S. job market. This process can benefit employers and applicants by providing a clear framework for filling positions where there are no available U.S. workers.

  • Opportunity for Employer Sponsorship: Unlike the EB-1A subcategory, all EB-3 applicants must have a job offer and an employer willing to sponsor their green card application. This requirement can provide stability and assurance for both the employer and the employee, fostering long-term employment relationships.

Strategic Immigration Planning: Tailoring the Choice to Individual Goals

Choosing between the EB-1 and EB-3 visa categories depends on an individual’s qualifications, career goals, and the urgency of their immigration timeline. For those who meet the stringent criteria of the EB-1, the benefits of faster processing times and the independence of self-petitioning offer a compelling option. Conversely, the EB-3 visa provides a viable and accessible pathway for a broader range of professionals, skilled workers, and others seeking to contribute their talents to the U.S. workforce.

Ultimately, each benefit associated with these visa categories plays a pivotal role in shaping an effective immigration strategy, tailored to the unique circumstances and aspirations of each applicant. Understanding these distinctions ensures that individuals and their families can make well-informed decisions, positioning themselves for success in their pursuit of permanent residency in the United States.


Things to Remember Before Attempting to Port

Before Porting, Understand the Eligibility Criteria for EB-1: Ensure you meet the strict requirements for extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, or multinational managers and executives.

Evaluate Your Documentation: Gather all evidence such as awards, publications, patents, and testimonials to substantiate your eligibility.

Ensure Legal Compliance: Adhere strictly to immigration laws and regulations; consult an immigration lawyer if needed.

Stay Informed of Timelines and Fees: Be aware of processing times, premium processing availability, filing fees for I-140 petitions, and adjustment of status costs.

Consider Professional Assistance: Seek guidance from experienced immigration professionals who can provide accurate advice in navigating the complex process effectively.


In the intricate journey of U.S. immigration, the option to transition from an EB-3 to an EB-1 visa represents a significant strategic move for individuals who align with the exceptional criteria set for the latter. This transition, often referred to as porting, not only opens the door to a faster route to permanent residency but also elevates the applicant to a category recognized for its high priority and esteemed regard within the U.S. immigration framework.

The process of shifting one’s application from the broader EB-3 category, encompassing skilled workers, professionals, and other workers, to the distinguished EB-1 tier, underscores a commitment to leveraging one’s extraordinary abilities, academic contributions, or executive leadership for the benefit of securing a more expedient path to the American Dream. Given the nuanced and stricter eligibility requirements and requisites and the intricate legal landscapes that define each visa category, the decision to embark on this transition is one that requires thorough understanding, meticulous preparation, and an appreciation for the subtleties of immigration protocol.

Seeking the expertise of seasoned legal professionals becomes indispensable in this context. Immigration attorneys, well-versed in the dynamics of U.S. immigration law, offer invaluable guidance, ensuring that every aspect of the porting process is navigated with precision. Their insights can illuminate the path forward, transforming the complex process into a manageable journey marked by informed decision-making and strategic planning.

Moreover, the ever-evolving nature of immigration policies and regulations underscores the importance of staying abreast of current developments. Changes in visa quotas, adjustments in eligibility criteria, or shifts in regulatory priorities can all have a direct impact on the feasibility and timing of transitioning from EB-3 to EB-1. Keeping informed, either through professional advisement or diligent research, is crucial for anyone considering this significant shift in their immigration strategy.

Ultimately, the move from an EB-3 to an EB-1 visa is more than a procedural change; it’s a strategic repositioning that places individuals on an accelerated track to permanent residency, reflecting their own exceptional abilities, status, contributions, and potential to enrich the U.S. on a national scale. With careful planning, expert guidance, and a deep understanding of both the opportunities and challenges inherent in this process, aspirants can navigate their way to achieving their goals, fully leveraging the benefits and privileges that come with being recognized at the highest levels of professional and personal accomplishment.


1. What is an EB3 green card?

An EB3 green card is for skilled workers, professionals, or other workers to become permanent residents in the U.S.

2. Can you change from an EB3 to an EB1 visa?

You cannot simply convert an EB3 into an eb2 to EB1; however, if you meet certain criteria like having extraordinary abilities (EB-1A) or a national interest waiver, you may apply for it separately.

3. What's the benefit of moving from EB3 to EB1?

The big plus of getting into the EB-1 program is faster processing times which means quicker permanent residency compared to other employment-based visas.

4. Do all green card holders need a new I-140 form to change their visa category?

Yes – even current green card holders must file a fresh I-140 petition with USCIS when they want to move from one work visa category like the eb2-visa or eb5-green-card to another type such as Eb-1

5. If my job has changed since getting my H-1B status, can that affect switching visas?

Changes in your job could impact your eligibility; double-check with immigration rules and maybe discuss on forums before deciding on filing dates or submitting documents like your Employment Authorization Document.

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