EB-2 and EB-3 Degree Equivalency

Are Foreign Academic Degrees Equivalent to U.S. Degrees?

An EB-3 visa is an immigrant visa that allows skilled workers and professionals to immigrate to the U.S. Among other eligibility standards, it requires those who are classified as professional workers to have at least a U.S. bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent or two years of experience as a skilled worker.

The EB-2 visa is an immigrant visa for foreign professionals with exceptional ability in the sciences, business, or arts or advanced degrees. They must have at least a U.S. master's degree, its foreign equivalent, or a bachelor's degree and experience equivalent to a master's degree. (Typically, five years of progressive experience in a specialized field is considered equivalent to a master's degree.) If the applicant practices in a profession that typically requires a doctoral degree in the U.S., he or she must have a U.S. doctoral degree or its equivalent.

Questions About EB-2 and EB-3 Degree Equivalency

These visas raise important questions: Which foreign degrees are the equivalent of U.S. university degrees? Are foreign three-year degrees equivalent to U.S. bachelor's degrees? What about a combination of degrees? What does "progressive experience" really mean?

It is unwise to assume that your foreign degree will be accepted as the equivalent of a U.S. degree. An experienced immigration lawyer can advise you of whether your degree is likely to be considered the equivalent of a U.S. degree. However, many questions remain unresolved.

EB-2 and EB-3 Degree Equivalency Court Decisions

In a Texas case, EB-2 petitions for physicians who held a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degrees were denied because they were bachelor's degrees — not advanced degrees. In January 2009, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) — the body that reviews decisions by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service — determined that an MBBS from India was the equivalent of a U.S. Doctor of Medicine degree.

Other determinations of EB-2 and EB-3 degree equivalency include:

  • A three-year bachelor's degree from India is equivalent to a four-year U.S. bachelor's degree.
  • A three-year bachelor's degree and a two-year master's degree can, in certain cases, be equivalent to a U.S. master's degree.
  • Multiple foreign degrees may be combined and evaluated as equivalent to a single U.S. degree.
  • Progressive experience is post-baccalaureate (B.A.) experience that includes advancing levels of responsibility and knowledge within a specific field.
  • The EB-2 requirement for five years of progressive experience may be fulfilled through work either in the U.S. or abroad.

To arrange a free consultation with one of our lawyers about EB-2 or EB-3 degree equivalency, please contact us at your earliest convenience. From offices in New York City, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we represent clients from throughout the U.S. and around the world.