Can You Upgrade Your EB-3 Visa to an EB-1 Visa?

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Picture of Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Thinking about upgrading from an EB-3 visa to an EB-1 visa? You’re not alone. Many individuals start with an EB-3 visa when seeking permanent residency in the United States but find the long waiting times daunting. Transitioning to an EB-1 visa can offer a faster route to permanent residency.

Understanding the EB-3 and EB-1 Visa Categories

What is the EB-3 Visa?

The EB-3 visa is designated for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers. It typically requires a job offer and labor certification, proving that there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position. The processing time can be lengthy, often taking several years.

What is the EB-1 Visa?

The EB-1 visa is reserved for individuals with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers. This visa category is highly prioritized and often has shorter waiting times. It also allows self-petitioning, meaning you don’t need an employer to sponsor your application.

Why Consider Transitioning from EB-3 to EB-1?

  1. Faster Processing Times: The EB-1 visa is generally processed more quickly than the EB-3 visa, allowing you to obtain permanent residency faster.
  2. No Labor Certification Required: The EB-1 visa does not require labor certification, streamlining the application process.
  3. Self-Petitioning Option: If you qualify under the EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability) category, you can self-petition without needing an employer.

How to Transition from EB-3 to EB-1

While you can’t simply convert an EB-3 visa to an EB-1 visa, you can apply for an EB-1 if you meet the eligibility criteria. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Assess Your Eligibility

Determine if you meet the criteria for one of the EB-1 subcategories:

  • EB-1A (Extraordinary Ability): Demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim.
  • EB-1B (Outstanding Professors and Researchers): Show international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a specific academic field.
  • EB-1C (Multinational Managers and Executives): Have been employed in a managerial or executive capacity by a multinational company and are being transferred to a U.S. office.

2. Gather Supporting Documentation

Compile evidence to support your eligibility:

  • Awards and Recognitions: Document any national or international awards.
  • Publications and Citations: Include copies of your published work and citations by others.
  • Professional Memberships: Provide proof of membership in associations that require outstanding achievements.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Obtain letters from experts in your field attesting to your extraordinary ability or contributions.

3. File a New Form I-140

Submit a new Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, under the appropriate EB-1 category. This petition will require extensive documentation proving your qualifications.

4. Consider Premium Processing

If available, opt for premium processing to expedite the review of your I-140 petition. This service involves an additional fee but can significantly reduce processing time.

5. Port Your Priority Date

If your EB-3 petition has already been filed, you can port the priority date to your new EB-1 petition. This allows you to retain your earlier filing date, potentially speeding up the process.

EB 3 visa

Benefits of Upgrading to EB-1

Expedited Green Card Process

The EB-1 visa category typically has shorter waiting periods due to the availability of visa numbers, leading to a faster path to permanent residency.

No Labor Certification Requirement

Unlike the EB-3 category, the EB-1 category does not require labor certification, simplifying the application process and reducing the time and documentation needed.

Self-Petitioning Capability

For those in the EB-1A category, self-petitioning allows for greater autonomy and does not require employer sponsorship. This is particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and professionals seeking independence.

Key Considerations Before Transitioning

Eligibility Criteria

Ensure you meet the stringent requirements of the EB-1 category. Carefully review the criteria and gather substantial evidence to support your claim.


Prepare comprehensive documentation to substantiate your eligibility. This may include awards, publications, professional memberships, and letters of recommendation.

Legal Compliance

Adhere strictly to immigration laws and regulations. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney to navigate the process accurately.

Priority Dates and Processing Times

Keep track of your priority date and understand how it affects your application. Utilizing premium processing can help expedite your petition.

Professional Assistance

Seek guidance from immigration professionals to ensure your application is complete and compliant with U.S. immigration laws.


Transitioning from an EB-3 to an EB-1 visa can be a strategic move for those who meet the exceptional criteria required for the EB-1 category. This upgrade can offer a faster and more flexible path to permanent residency in the United States. With careful planning, thorough documentation, and professional guidance, you can navigate this process successfully and achieve your goal of becoming a permanent resident.

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