USA and the UK
What is an E-3 Visa?
The E-3 Visa classification applies to Australian nationals who wish to come to the United States solely to work in a specialty occupation. This includes companies that operate in IT, international business, healthcare, and academic research.
Since this permit is dedicated only to nationals from Australia, your chances to get your visa may be higher than other petitions such as an H-1B visa. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has established a cap of 10,500 E3 visa applications that can be processed every year.
E-3 Visa holders can stay in the U.S. for up to two years, with no limit to the number of extensions (unless exemptions apply).
What is a “specialty occupation”?
The E3 (Australian Specialty Occupation Professional) Visa is a permit available to Australian nationals who work in a specialty occupation in the United States. “Specialty occupations” are defined as jobs that require a theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge. These occupations also require the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent) in a specific specialty.
You must also hold a license for your occupation where appropriate. In some cases, you may be allowed to obtain this authorization while you wait for your E-3 Visa application to be processed.
What are the E-3 Visa requirements?
The “Australian Specialty Occupation Professional” visa is available to Australian professionals. This means that eligible applicants must hold a university degree and have a genuine offer to work in the U.S. for a position that qualifies as a “specialty occupation”. In other words, applicants must meet the academic and occupational requirements to do the job.
In addition to these requirements applicants must also:
- Have received a legitimate offer of employment from a company in the United States
- Be qualified to cover a specialty role
- Intend to stay in the U.S. only until their authorized stay expires
- Have official permission to practice their occupation (If applicable)
In addition, the expected salary for a specialty occupation must fulfill the Labor Conditional Application conditions.
How to apply for an E-3 Visa?
Once you have secured a legitimate offer of employment from the United States, you can then directly apply for an E-3 Visa by filing a DS-160 Form. Your employer does not need to submit a petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at the same time.
The U.S. Department of Labor will review your E-3 Visa application and will carry out a Labor Condition Application (LCA). This will help determine if your job meets the requested standards. You will also be asked to demonstrate that your salary will be in line with the U.S. prevailing wage.
Furthermore, your E-3 Visa application must include:
- The job offer letter from your U.S.-based employer
- Evidence of your academic or equivalent qualifications
- Proof that your stay in the U.S. is only temporary
After you have submitted your DS-160 Form online, you will be shown a confirmation page which you will need to print out as it will be needed later in the application process. After Form DS-160, the applicant will then need to schedule and attend a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
At this interview, the consular officer will ask you a series of questions regarding your application, work history and experience, and reasons for coming to the United States. This interview will help the consular officer determine if the educational and employment information that you provided is sufficient enough to qualify for an E-3 visa.
After this interview, a decision will be made regarding the approval of your E-3 visa. If approved, your permit will usually be released within 5 business days.
What documents are needed for an E-3 visa?
When applying for an E-3 visa, you will need to submit a portfolio of evidence at the visa interview to help strengthen your E-3 application. This may include the following documents:
- A valid Australian passport
- A photograph shot to U.S. Visa Photo standards
- Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Receipt of payment of visa fees
- The interview appointment letter
- The visa interview appointment letter
- A formal letter from the employer confirming an offer of employment (This letter should include a description of the job, its duties, and salary)
- Form ETA 9035 (Foreign Labor Certification). This proves that your employer is certified for an LCA
- Relevant documents regarding your education and work experience. This can include copies of degrees, professional certifications or licenses, reference letters from past employers, etc.
- Relevant documents proving that the applicant has ties to Australia and will leave the United States once their visa has expired. This can include property deeds, mortgages or leases, family ties, etc.
How long does the E-3 Visa last?
Any E3 Visa will be issued for an initial period of 2 years, but you can be granted an indefinite number of two-year extensions if needed. To apply for an E-3 Visa renewal, you must prove that your job offer in the U.S. is still valid.
It is important to remember that the E3 Visa is a non-immigrant permit. Therefore, you must intend to go back to your home country when the permit expires. It cannot be used to obtain permanent residence in the country.
If you are already in the U.S. under an E-3 Visa status and you change your employer, you can remain in the country. To do this, you must complete a new transfer process through the USCIS. The same applies if you want to change to a different category of visa.
After your employment has concluded, you are permitted to stay up to 10 more days in the United States before leaving.
Why is the E-3 Visa the suggested path for Australian citizens?
The E-3 Visa is often viewed as the best preference for several workers from Australia. Unlike other work-based categories, the yearly permit quota of 10,500 for Australian citizens is less likely to be reached.
However, if you are a businessperson, you may be more interested in registering your business under the E-2 Visa scheme. Likewise, if you wish to seek permanent residence in the United States, you can follow the O1 Visa to Green Card path.
It is worth mentioning that these procedures are typically more complex than applying for the E-3 Visa scheme. If you need support in understanding which permit can be more beneficial for your case, our immigration experts can offer you their advice.
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Australians who are already in the United States and would like to apply for a change of status or to extend their E-3 nonimmigrant status will need to have their employer file Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with the USCIS. This form should also include the following documents:
- The employer’s Labor Condition Application (LCA)
- Evidence of the employee’s relevant academic or qualifying credentials
- A formal offer of employment or other documentation demonstrating that the employee will be working in a specialty occupation and that the salary being offered is higher than the actual or prevailing wage
- Appropriate license or other official permission to perform or practice the duties of the specialty occupation (if applicable)
Spouses and dependent children (unmarried children under the age of 21) are eligible to join their spouse or parent in the United States under the dependent E-3 classification. Dependent children are allowed to study in the United States but are not allowed to seek employment. Spouses of an E3 visa holder are allowed to legally work in the United States without the need of applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
All other family members who are not eligible for dependent status may visit you in the United States temporarily and for short stays by applying for a B2 (Tourist Visa) which is valid for a stay of up to 6 months or traveling to the United States under the visa waiver program which is valid for a stay of up to 90 days.
The E-3 visa requires applicants to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) in order to classify it as a specialty occupation. Since very few trade positions meet the classification standards of a specialty occupation, skilled people are not eligible for this visa.
Individuals who are in a specialty occupation but do not have a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) will need to establish that they possess the amount of experience in the role that is equivalent to a university degree. For more information regarding what constitutes as enough experience, consult with the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations or an experienced immigration attorney.
Our team can provide you with the best immigration guidance. Your lawyer will follow your application from start to end. Your advisor will:
- Prepare a complete portfolio that outlines your work history, education, and training
- Check if you hold the necessary qualifications to perform your duties
- Help you with your LCA
- Liaise with you, your employer, and the USCIS
- Support your relative to join you in the U.S.
Get in touch today to take your first step in your E-3 Visa application. Call us on +1 844 290 6312 or use our online contact form to arrange your first meeting with one of our experts.