E-3 Visa Specialty Occupation Workers from Australia

E-3 Visa Specialty Occupation Workers from Australia

Every year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues 10,500 E-3 visas to Australian nationals. The purpose of these visas is to allow Australian nationals to enter the United States on a temporary work visa to have employment in a specialty occupation. E-3 is a temporary, employment-based visa.

What Is an E Class Visa?

The E visa category is a group of temporary visas meant for treaty traders, investors, or Australian specialty occupation workers. There are three subcategories of the E visa.

  • E-1 Treaty Traders: trade goods between their country of origin and the United States
  • E-2 Treaty Investors:  invest money and are in charge of operating the enterprise of investment
  • E-3 Australian Specialty Occupation Workers

What Is an E-3 Visa?

The E-3 visa is the special U.S. visa for Australian citizens, specifically for Australian nationals to provide service in a specialty occupation.

Specialty occupations are employment positions that require specialized knowledge. This typically requires attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher (or a foreign equivalent degree) in the specialty area. As an E-3 visa holder, you must be able to practice and apply your specialized knowledge to your specific occupational position.

The E-3 visa is closely related to the H-1B visa for professional workers in specialty occupations. Though there are differences, the two visas share similar qualifications in their definitions of specialty occupations. As mentioned previously, there is an E-3 visa cap of 10,500 Australian nationals who can be issued E-3 visas each year.

E-3 Visa Eligibility

Before applying for an E-3 visa, you should first determine if you are eligible to apply. You must demonstrate the following in order to qualify for an E-3 visa:

  • You are an Australian national, meaning you are a citizen with an Australian passport.
  • You can present an offer of employment from a future United States employer.
  • You have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university or a degree/certificate of equal merit from an institution outside of the United States.
  • Your employment position requires at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and can be considered a specialty occupation.

E-3 Specialty Occupation List

A specialty occupation is any position that requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Examples of qualifying job positions for a specialty occupation include:

  • Accountant
  • Architect
  • Computer scientist
  • Designer
  • Educator
  • Heath professional
  • Lawyer
  • Researcher
  • Social worker

Remember, your job offer must directly relate to your field of expertise. If you are not sure whether your U.S. job offer is considered a specialty occupation, or if you qualify for the E-3 visa, contact your E-3  immigration attorney today.

E-3 Visa Application Process

If you’re wondering how to apply for an E-3 visa, a job offer from a legitimate E-3 visa employer in the United States is required. However, you may travel to the United States to find a job before applying for the E-3 visa.

When applying for the E-3 visa, Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker should accompany your application. Form I-129 must include and ensure the following:

  • Academic credentials supporting your qualification for the position
  • Job offer and any additional documentation from the employer in regard to the specialty occupation
  • Proof of obtaining a license to perform specialty occupation in the U.S.

You can apply for an E-3 visa at any U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in another country.

Make sure you fill out Form I-129 completely and sign it. Send your form in with all filing fees and required evidence.

Once USCIS receives your Form I-129 and accompanying documents/evidence, they will process your application. You will receive a confirmation from USCIS, letting you know your Form I-129 has been received. You may also be sent:

  • A biometrics service notice
  • A notice to appear for an interview
  • A notice of USCIS’s decision about your form

A biometrics appointment or interview may not be required.

After your Form I-129 is approved, USCIS will forward your employer a Notice of Action/Approval (Form I-797). Your employer will then need to notify you and forward you the Notice. You will then apply for the E-3 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

What Are E-3 Visa Fees?

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers, has a fee of $460. Other fees, such as a biometrics exam fee, may need to be paid if necessary for your application process.

E-3 Visa Checklist

In order to qualify for an E-3 visa, you need to follow E-3 visa requirements—being an Australian national is the top priority.

The following forms and documents are required for E-3 visa validity:

  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
  • Labor Condition Application (LCA); this is for your employer to show that the LCA has been filed to support an E-3 visa classification
  • Proof of specialized knowledge; this can be in the form of a degree, certificate, or other similar credentials
  • Proof of job offer from a U.S. employer
  • Proof that the offered position requires your particular specialized knowledge which you will be actively engaging with
  • Proof that your employer will pay you a prevailing wage for your field and region
  • Form I-907, if applicable
  • If you are filing for a change of status or extension of stay, you will have to present evidence that you maintained your E-3 status

U.S. E-3 Visa Processing Time

The Australian visa application timeline varies depending on where you are applying from. Each Australian embassy may take a different amount of time to process your petition. Your E-3 visa processing time may also vary if you are applying from within the United States to extend your period of stay or adjust your status. The process may take up to six months or more, but remember that each case is unique. Premium processing is now available for the E-3 visa USA process, which expedites your visa processing time to a maximum of 15 days.

What Is the E-3 Visa Period of Stay?

The initial E-3 visa duration period lasts two years. You are also allowed to apply for an E-3 visa renewal. Each extension of stay is up to two years. You may apply for an extension however many times is necessary for your position, though there are some exceptions that may limit the number of times you may request an E-3 visa renewal.

How to Renew an E-3 Visa

You will use Form I-129 to apply for a change of status. You must show that you are intending to stay only temporarily in the United States, even though you can renew indefinitely.  This also means that you can renew your E-3 visa in the U.S.

Family Members of E-3 Visa Holders

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may qualify for an E-3 dependent classification. Your spouse can even apply to work in the United States. However, your children are not allowed to petition for work authorization and will therefore not be able to work while in the U.S.

E-3 Visa FAQ & Additional E-3 Visa Information

Can I Apply for an E-3 Visa in the U.S.?

No, your initial E-3 visa application process must be done at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside of the United States.

Can I Have a Change of Employer on an E-3 Visa?

Yes! You are allowed to change employers while you are in the United States. This means that you do not have to leave the U.S. and return to Australia or another country if you switch employers as long as you maintain your E-3 status. Just like your last employer, your new U.S. employer must apply for and obtain a certified Labor Condition Application. A Form I-129 also needs to be submitted for your new qualifying job position.

Upon your previous E-3 visa termination of employment for this new position, USCIS may consider you as maintaining your E-3 status for up to 60 days.

If My Occupation Is a Skilled Trade, Do I Qualify for an E-3 Visa?

Occupations such as a plumber, electrician, or carpenter are not usually eligible for a U.S. E-3 visa from Australia. A special occupation needs to have an accompanying qualifying degree or equivalent. Even if you do have a bachelor’s degree, but the position is in a skilled trade such as those previously mentioned, you would still not qualify because the job itself does not call for a bachelor’s degree.

Can I Apply for an E-3 Visa if I Have Professional Experience but No Bachelor’s Degree?

Technically, yes, you are allowed to apply if you qualify for a special occupation. However, to be considered a qualifying candidate, you need an equivalency to a bachelor’s degree or higher. Experience may be quantified that, for every three years of professional experience, you are accounted for one year of schooling.

In total, you will need to show at least 12 years of experience in the field of your job position. Again, your experience must coincide with the job description that you will be practicing in the United States. You must also demonstrate your understanding of your field, usually determined during the interview process. Your interviewer will then determine whether or not your professional experience equates to a bachelor’s degree.

Is a License Necessary to Qualify for An E-3 Visa?

If the position you have an employment offer for requires a license, you may need to present your licensure. However, if there is a license required by U.S. standards that is not available in Australia, then you need to be able to show that you will obtain your required license after admission into the United States.

If I Have a Degree and a Job Offer, Can I Apply for or Renew an E-3 Visa in the U.S.?

Just because you as an individual meet the E-3 requirements does not mean that your job offer does. You need to make sure that the job position requires your particular degree/specialty. The job must correlate with your field of study and, at a minimum, require a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position.

Does My Spouse Need to Be Australian to Accompany Me on My E-3 Visa?

No, your spouse does not need to be an Australian national. If your spouse accompanies you on your E-3 visa, they are allowed to apply for an EAD, or Employment Authorization Document, using USCIS Form I-765. E-3 rules differ from the spousal rules for other visas, which is one of the benefits of an E-3 visa.

How Long Does it Take to Get an E-3 Visa?

After your interview, if your E-3 visa is approved, your visa will generally be issued within five business days. This is if you apply at your U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Australia.

What Is a Labor Condition Application?

An LCA is an application filed with the Department of Labor for the petitioning employer of an E-3 visa holder. The LCA makes certain that the E-3 visa employers:

  • Pay prevailing or actual wages
  • Do not break up strikes
  • Maintain public access files

An LCA is required in order to apply for an E-3 visa. You must submit the LCA along with USCIS Form I-129. Your employer can apply for an LCA using ETA Form 9035.

What Is Premium Processing for an E-3 visa?

Premium processing is a request to expedite your U.S. E-3 visa processing time. A request for premium processing speeds up the processing time to a maximum of 15 days after USCIS receives your request. Your employer may file a request using Form I-907. The ability to request premium processing for an E-3 visa is fairly new—it was implemented in February 2021. This allows for easier E-3 visa renewals because E-3 status holders can remain in the United States while their E-3 visa renewal forms are pending approval. For more information about premium processing options, see our information page.

Is the E-3 Visa a Green Card?

The E-3 visa is a temporary work visa. You must show that you are only in the United States temporarily. Therefore, you are not a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) if you have E-3 status or an E-3 visa.

Is There an Age Requirement for an E-3 Visa?

There is no upper age limit for an E-3 visa. In order to qualify, you must have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

After My E-3 Visa Termination of Employment, How Long Can I Remain in the United States?

You can legally stay in the United States for up to 10 days after your U.S. job position has ended.

Can I Travel Abroad With My E-3 Visa?

Because the E-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa, you are allowed to travel. However, if you change your visa status while you are outside of the United States, you will need to reapply for a new E-3 visa while outside of the United States at an embassy or consulate.

If I Do Not Have Citizenship in Australia, But I Am a Permanent Resident, Can I Still Apply for an Australian E-3 Visa?

E-3 visa regulations state that only Australian nationals may apply for the E-3 visa. If you are a permanent resident but do not have citizenship, you do not meet eligibility standards for the E-3 visa.

If you are interested in immigrating to the United States based on a specialty occupation, temporary employment, or otherwise, contact your immigration lawyer to discuss visa options that you may qualify for.

Contact an Immigration Attorney Today

At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., we provide individuals, families, and employers the legal representation they need to navigate the process of obtaining nonimmigrant visas such as E-3 Australian Specialty Occupation Worker visas. With over 30 years of experience in immigration law, we are well versed in the legalities of obtaining a visa. We have the knowledge and experience to answer any questions you may have about your process of coming to the United States. Contact a member of our team by calling 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form today. We look forward to hearing from you!

We're looking forward to hearing from you!