Purpose of E-3 Visas
The E-3 visa program allows U.S. employers to hire Australian professionals who seek to come to the United States “solely to perform services in a specialty occupation.”
The definition of a specialty occupation for the E-3 visa program is the same as it is for the H-1B visa program – one that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, along with at least a bachelor’s degree (the degree must be in a field that is relevant to the position) or its equivalent. The government generally follows what is known as the three-to-one formula, where three years of experience equals one year of university education. Examples of specialty occupations include accounting, architecture, business specialties, education, engineering, health, medicine, law, and theology.
There are two steps to the E-3 process:
- The U.S. employer must file, and receive approval for, a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor; and
- The Australian national must apply for an E-3 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
Unlike the H-1B process, the employer does not have to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
E-3 visas are issued for a maximum period of two years but may be extended indefinitely. To apply for an extension of stay, the E-3 visa holder’s employer must file the application on Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
The E-3 Visa Cap
No more than 10,500 E-3 visas may be issued annually. Only principal E-3 visa holders count against this cap. Spouses and children are not counted. Neither are current E-3 visa holders working in the U.S. who apply to extend their status while working for the same employer.
Applying for an E-3 visa
You cannot schedule an appointment with a U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for an E-3 visa until you have received Form ETA 9035, or Form ETA 9035E—this is the notice your U.S. employer receives when the LCA is approved.
To qualify for an E-3 visa, you must:
- Be a national of the Commonwealth of Australia;
- Provide evidence that an LCA has been approved on your behalf (Form ETA 9035, or Form ETA 9035E);
- Provide a letter from your U.S. employer describing the specialty occupation you will be working in, your anticipated length of stay in the U.S., and how much and how you will be paid;
- Provide evidence that you meet the educational requirements for the specialty occupation you will be working in; and
- Provide evidence that you possess any necessary licenses required to work in your specialty occupation.
Family Members of E-3 Visa Holders
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may accompany, or follow to join, the primary E-3 visa holder and are given the same status. Spouses and children accompanying, or following to join, an E-3 visa holder do not have to be Australian nationals.
Spouses of E-3 visa holders may apply for an Employment Authorization Document by filing Form I-765 and may work in the United States.
Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch works with cases to provide E-3 Visas to Australian Professionals.