Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals From Australia
The E-3 classification applies only to nationals of Australia. The Australian National must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
Eligibility Criteria for E-3 Visa
To qualify for an E-3 visa, you must demonstrate that:
- You are a national of Australia;
- You have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
- You possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials;
- You will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.
If applying for E-3 visa from within the U.S., then your employer must file Form I-129 and apply for a change of status to obtain E-3 nonimmigrant temporary worker classification. Your Form I-129 needs to include the following:
- A Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) which cannot be the same application used in a previous H-1B application. The LCA has to be specifically annotated as E-3 LCA.
- Academic or other credentials demonstrating qualifications for the position.
- Job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that you will be engaged in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage.
- Before commencing work in the specialty occupation, you must have the necessary license or other official permission, if required.
First step is for your employer to file an I-129 petition with USCIS. Once I-129 is approved, your employer will be provided a Form I-797 Notice of Action/Approval. Please note that this is not a visa. After your I-129 is approved and your employer has forwarded you Form I-797, then you may begin application for visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (in your country or residence abroad).
You have the right to apply for an E-3 visa with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate which processes nonimmigrant visas. However, please contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply to check that they accept applications from non-residents. Some posts outside of Australia are not familiar with E3 visa and may be unfamiliar with adjudication of such visas. They are also unfamiliar with Australian education institutions, and so proving eligibility will be difficult.
E-3 visa’s initial period of stay is limited to 2 years. You may then file for 2 year extensions and there are usually no limits to number of extensions. If there is a change in employer, then your new employer must file a new LCA and a new E-3 visa application.
Family of E-3 Visa Holders:
E-3 Visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are entitled to the same E-3 classification. E-3 Visa holder’s spouse is entitled to work authorization but the children are not entitled to work authorization. Before spouse can begin to work, she must have an approved Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
E-3 Visa FAQs
Who qualifies for the E-3 Visa?
The E-3 non-immigrant visa classification applies only to Citizens of Australia as well as their spouses and children, who may not be Australian Citizens. E-3 principal applicants must be going to the United States solely to work in a Specialty Occupation.
What is the Period of Stay/Extension of Stay?
Initial Period of Stay is two (2) years with the possibility of getting up to 2 years per extension. There are no limits to the number of extensions for E-3 visas, with some exceptions.
You are a Permanent Resident of Australia but don’t have Citizenship. Are you eligible for an E-3 visa?
E-3 Applicant must be an Australian national and must have a valid Australian Passport.
Can you travel outside the United States while on E-3 visa?
An E-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa, so provided you have not changed employers or extended your status you may travel outside the United States and re-enter on a valid, unexpired E-3 visa.
How long can you stay out of the U.S. if you are in E-3 status?
There is no limit to how long you may stay outside the United States or how many times you may travel abroad during the validity of your E-3 visa, as long as you abide by the terms of your employment in the United States.
Can Dependent Family Members get Work-Authorization in U.S.?
Dependent spouse is entitled to work authorization, but not dependent children.
What if you want to work for a new employer?
Your new employer must file a new Labor Condition Application, and a new E-3 visa application. The gap between the jobs must be 10 days or less.
What is a Specialty Occupation?
A “specialty occupation” requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent. Some of the examples of Specialty Occupation are architecture, engineering, research-development, and medicine etc.
What documentary evidence you need to Submit with the E-3 petition?
- Proof of Australian Citizenship;
- Valid Offer of Employment in the U.S., and that offered position is a Specialty Occupation;
- Academic Degree, and Certificates to show you are meeting all Educational requirements;
- Labor Condition Application” (LCA) with the Department of Labor demonstrating that the employer is paying the required wage/higher wage (called “prevailing wage”) for the specific position in the geographic region where the job is located.
- Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker is required to apply for an Extension of Stay or Change of Employment or Change of Status to obtain/extend the E-3 nonimmigrant temporary worker status.
What is a Prevailing Wage?
The Prevailing Wage rate is defined as the average wage paid to individuals with similar experience and qualifications for the specific job and for that specific job location. Information on Prevailing Wage can be found on the Online Wage Library.
What is the fee for an E-3 visa?
The standard non-refundable worldwide visa application fee for the E-3 visa is currently $270 USD. For more information, please visit www.travel.state.gov.
Can you apply an E-3 Visa from within the United States?
You cannot apply for E-3 visa within the United States. You can apply for change of status to obtain E-3 nonimmigrant temporary worker classification from within the United States. If your change of status application is approved you will be issued a Form I-797 approval notice, but this is not a visa. Visa can only be obtained at a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad.
Can you apply for an E-3 Visa with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad?
You have the right to apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate which processes nonimmigrant visas. However, please contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply to check that they accept applications from non-residents, and for details of how to book an interview and current processing times, as these vary from post to post. Some posts outside of Australia are not familiar with the E3 visa and may be unfamiliar with adjudication of such visas. They are also unfamiliar with Australian education institutions, and so proving eligibility will be difficult.
What is the Processing Time?
Visa approval time depends on whether you opt for consular processing or file for a change of status with USCIS. Consular processing can generate an approval almost immediately; whereas an application filed in the US can take up to a couple of months unless you decide to file through premium processing service.
How to Schedule a Visa Interview?
If you have the certified LCA and all documents, you are required to complete the steps below
- Step 1: Prepare and upload an appropriate Photo;
- Step 2: Complete the online DS-160 application form and print the Confirmation Page;
- Step 3: Book an Appointment online;
- Step 4: Pay the Application Fee;
- Step 5: Gather any additional required documents; and
- Step 6: Personally appear at the U.S. Consulate with: DS-160 Confirmation Page, Appointment Confirmation, Original Australia Post receipt, Pre-Paid Self-addressed Envelope, and all other required documents.
What is the wait time for Interview? The wait times for interview at each Consulate vary. The latest timeframe for interviews in Australia can be checked on the Visa-point website whilst making an appointment. In Australia, if an E-3 visa is approved at interview, it is normally issued within 2-3 business days. If applying outside Australia, please visit http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html for interview wait/processing times.
What are the advantages of choosing the E-3 Visa over the H-1B/L-1Visa?
While every case is different, Australian nationals should definitely explore E-3 Visa options. E-3 visa petitions are not subject to Fraud or ACWIA fees, filing one is less costly than applying for an H or an L visa. Additionally, there is no cost to the employer, as there is no filing fee for the LCA. Finally, an E-3 visa can be extended indefinitely. Additionally, if your degree and higher-level qualifications are from an Australian Institution, you do not usually need to provide certified copies or evidence of their U.S. equivalent.