E-3 Visa

E-3 Visa – Australian Professional Workers

The E-3 is a new visa for Australian nationals to work in specialty occupations in the U.S. It has many advantages over the other types of working visas, including the ability for spouses of E-3 recipients to apply for work authorization. There is a maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas issued annually (during the fiscal year, which runs from 1 October to 30 September). The maximum validity period for E-3 visas is two years; but may be renewed indefinitely, provided the alien is able to demonstrate that he/she does not intend to remain or work permanently in the United States.

To qualify for an E-3 visa, an applicant must demonstrate the following:

  • He or she must have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
  • The position he or she is coming to fill qualifies as specialty occupation employment;
  • He or she is an Australian citizen;
  • He or she has the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials;
  • His or her stay will be temporary; and
  • He or she has the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation (if required before the he/she may commence employment in the specialty occupation).

What is a specialty occupation?

The definition of “specialty occupation” is one that requires:

  1. A theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, and
  2. 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.

A specialty occupation is one that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree (or its equivalent) in the specific specialty. For example, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are specialty occupations.

Do I need a license for a specialty occupation?

An E-3 alien must meet academic and occupational requirements, including licensure where appropriate, for admission into the U.S. 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.

Do I need a petition by my employer to the USCIS?

A U.S. employer of an E-3 principal is not required to submit a petition to the USCIS as a prerequisite for visa issuance. However, the U.S. employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA), ETA Form 9035 or ETA Form 9035E, from the Department of Labor.

Application Procedures

  1. If you are outside the U.S. you may apply directly with the Consulate by submitting Form DS-156, Electronic Visa Application Form (complete online and print out). Male applicants between the ages of 16-45, must also submit Form DS-157, Supplemental Application.If in the U.S., you must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center.
  2. Form ETA 9035, clearly annotated as “E-3 – Australia – to be processed”, or an ETA 9035E dated after January 4th, 2006, specified for E-3 Australia. Now either form is acceptable. This is the notification of an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) that the U.S. employer obtains from the Department of Labor.
  3. Evidence of academic or other qualifying credentials
  4. Submit a job offer letter from the prospective U.S. based employer establishing that upon entry into the U.S. the applicant will be engaged in qualifying work in a specialty occupation and that the alien will be paid at least the actual or prevailing wage.
  5. Submit evidence (brochures, articles, website print-outs) describing the U.S. employer and nature of its business activities.
  6. 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.
  7. Evidence establishing that the applicant’s stay in the U.S. will be temporary.
  8. 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 be obtaining the required license within a reasonable time after admission.
  9. Evidence of payment of the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee, also known as the application fee. This is payable at Australia Post, and applicants should bring the post office receipt to the interview as evidence of payment.

Spouses and dependent children

Spouses and dependent children may be granted E-3 classification. They do not need to have the same nationality as the principal and they are not subject to the numerical limitations.

To qualify, you must demonstrate 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. Please note that the U.S. does not recognize De Facto relationships, and to qualify as a spouse you will need a marriage certificate from the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

May spouses work?

E-3 spouses are entitled to work in the U.S. The spouse of a qualified E nonimmigrant can apply for work authorization upon entering the U.S. by filing an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center.