For Australian college students or professionals looking to work in the U.S., the E-3 visa offers a significantly preferable option to the H-1B.
To qualify for an E-3 visa, an applicant must demonstrate that:
- S/he has a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
- The position qualifies as specialty occupation employment;
- S/he is an Australian citizen;
- S/he has the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials;
- His/her stay will be temporary; and
- S/he has the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation, if any.
An approved Labor Condition Application is required and no more than 10,500 E-3 visas can be issued per year.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is an E-3 Visa?
A: The E-3 is a visa category only for Australians going to the U.S. to work temporarily in a specialty occupation.
Q: Why are only Australians eligible for this visa?
A: The legislation limited the E-3 to nationals of Australia.
Q: Who qualifies for the E-3 visa?
A: The E-3 visa classification currently applies only to nationals of Australia, as well as their spouses and children. E-3 principal applicants must be going to the United States solely to work in a specialty occupation. The spouse and children need not be Australian citizens.
Q: Are there other requirements for qualifying for an E-3 visa?
A: A job offer letter from the prospective U.S.-based employer must be submitted. A treaty alien in a specialty occupation must meet the general academic and occupational requirements for the position pursuant to INA 214(i)(1). In addition to the nonimmigrant visa application, the following documentary evidence must be submitted in connection with an application for an E-3 visa:
- Form ETA 9035, clearly annotated as “E-3 – Australia – to be processed”, or an ETA 9035E dated after January 4, 2006, specified for E-3 Australia. Either form is acceptable.
- Evidence of academic or other qualifying credentials as required under INA 214(i)(1), and a job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that, upon entry into the United States, the applicant will be engaged in qualifying work in a specialty occupation and that the alien will be paid the actual or prevailing wage referred to in INA 212(t)(1). A certified copy of the foreign degree and evidence that it is equivalent to the required U.S. degree could be used to satisfy the “qualifying credentials” requirement. Likewise, a certified copy of a U.S. baccalaureate or higher degree, as required by the specialty occupation, would meet the minimum evidentiary standard.
- In the absence of an academic or other qualifying credential(s), evidence of education and experience that is equivalent to the required U.S. degree.
- Evidence establishing that the applicant’s stay in the United States will be temporary.
- A certified copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment, if so required, or, where licensure is not necessary to commence immediately the intended specialty occupation employment upon admission, evidence that the alien will obtain the required license within a reasonable time after admission.
- Evidence of payment of the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee, also known as the application fee.
Q: What is a specialty occupation?
A: The definition of “specialty occupation” is one that requires:
- A theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, and
- The attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
In determining whether an occupation qualifies as a “specialty occupation”, the definition contained at INA 214(i)(1) for H-1B non-immigrants and the applicable standards and criteria determined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) should be considered.
Q: Do I need a license for a specialty occupation?
A: An E-3 alien must meet academic and occupational requirements, including licensure where appropriate, for admission into the United States in a specialty occupation. If the job requires licensure or other official permission to perform the specialty occupation, the applicant must submit proof of the requisite license or permission before the E-3 visa may be granted. In certain cases, where such a license or other official permission is not immediately required to perform the duties described in the visa application, the alien must show that he or she will obtain such licensure within a reasonable period of time following admission to the United States.
Q: Does my employer need to submit a petition to DHS?
A: The U.S.-based employer of an E-3 principal is not required to submit a petition to DHS as a prerequisite for visa issuance. However, the employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA), ETA Form 9035 or ETA Form 9035E from the Department of Labor.
Q: How long is the visa valid? Can it be renewed?
A: The validity of the visa should not exceed the validity period of the LCA. The U.S. Department of State and DHS have agreed to a 24-month maximum validity period for E-3 visas. E-3 visas are renewable indefinitely, provided the alien is able to demonstrate that s/he does not intend to remain or work permanently in the United States.
Q: What is the fee for an E-3 visa?
A: Other than the normal visa application fee, there is no issuance fee.
Q: Is there a limit to the number of E-3 visas?
A: Yes, there will be a maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas issued annually. Spouses and children of principal applicants do not count against the numerical limitations.
Q: Do applicants need to demonstrate a “residence abroad?”
A: E-3 status provides for entry on a non-permanent basis into the United States. Similarly to E-1 and E-2 visa applicants, the E-3 applicant must satisfy the consular officer that s/he intends to depart upon termination of status.
Q: How do I demonstrate that I qualify for an E-3D (dependent) visa?
A: You must demonstrate to the consular officer that the established relationship exists. Usually this can be accomplished with a marriage or birth certificate. You must also show that the principal applicant is the recipient of an E-3 visa.
Q: May spouses work?
A: E-3 spouses are entitled to work in the United States and may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765) through USCIS. The spouse of a qualified E nonimmigrant may, upon admission to the United States, apply with DHS for an employment authorization document, which an employer could use to verify the spouse’s employment eligibility. Such spousal employment may be in a position other than a specialty occupation.
Q: How do I apply for an E-3 visa?
A: You may make your appointment for an interview as soon as you have all the documents prepared.