E-3 Visas

I have particular expertise in preparing E-3 visas for Australian nationals. I have written and lectured on the E-3 visa, and have prepared numerous applications. I am the author of “The E-3 Visa’s Five Year Anniversary,” (Bloomberg Law Reports, Immigration, Vol. 3, No. 5 (2010) and have given presentations on the E-3 visa in New York, California and London.

The E-3 Visa at a Glance

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the E-3 visa?

The E-3 visa allows Australian nationals to work for US employers in a specialty occupation, which is a position that requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a specialized field. The spouse and children of an E-3 visa holder need not be Australian citizens. The E-3 visa provides an excellent vehicle for US companies to recruit top talent from Australia.

Is there an annual cap on the number of E-3 visas granted each year?

Each fiscal year, Congress has designated an annual 10,500 E-3 visas solely for Australians—a number not likely to be exhausted for many years to come.

Who is eligible for an E-3 visa?

If you are an Australian national who holds a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and you have a job offer from a US employer in a specialty occupation, you may be eligible for an E-3 visa.

What is a specialty occupation?

The definition of “specialty occupation” is one that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge; and 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 US.

In determining whether an occupation qualifies as a “specialty occupation,” the embassy follows the definition contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 214 (i)(1) for H-1B nonimmigrants and applicable standards and criteria determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

I have a Bachelor’s degree from an Australian University, is it equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree?

For the purposes of the E-3 visa, a degree from an Australian university is equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree. You will need an equivalency evaluation from a reliable credentials evaluation service.

I do not have a Bachelor’s degree, can I qualify for an E-3 visa?

You may have the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree through a combination of work experience and coursework. US Code of Federal Regulations, 8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(D), describes the kind and amount of experience which can be used to establish the equivalency of a university degree. As a guide, three years of professional experience may generally be used as a substitute for each year of university-level education and diplomas may offer credit hours that can be applied toward the equivalency.

I have the equivalent of a US degree and have found a job in a related profession in the US, do I qualify for the E-3 visa?

The job will qualify provided that it requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a specialty occupation. It is not enough that an E-3 applicant holds a particular degree; the job itself must also require a bachelor-level or higher qualification. In addition, there must be a fit between the degree and the job duties.

The job offer requires a Bachelor’s degree, do I qualify for an E-3 visa?

In order to sponsor an Australian national for an E-3 visa, a US company must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the US Department of Labor (DOL) attesting that it will pay the Australian national at least the prevailing wage for the position as well as wages and benefits on par with US workers with similar qualifications. The sponsoring employer must also comply with document retention and public inspection requirements established by the DOL. US companies are well-advised to retain immigration counsel when sponsoring E-3 workers, especially in view of the increase in DOL audits and USCIS site visits nationally. The LCA provisions are designed to protect US labor, enabling US companies to enjoy the benefits of cross-border mobility without threatening the wages and working conditions of US workers.

Do I need a license to be eligible for the E-3 visa?

An E-3 applicant must meet academic and occupational requirements, including licensure if the position requires a license. In certain cases where a US license or other official permission is required to perform the duties described in the visa application, but such permission or license is not available prior to entry into the US, the applicant must show that he or she will obtain such licensure within a reasonable period of time following admission to the US.

What is the validity period for an E-3 visa?

E-3 visas are valid for 2 years and renewable indefinitely.

Can my family join me on my E-3 assignment?

Yes. They would apply for E-3 dependent visas.

Can my spouse work with an E-3 dependent visa?

The spouses of E-3 visa holders are eligible to apply for work authorization (an Employment Authorization Document/EAD card), regardless of their nationality, which enables them to work for any US employer. Your spouse may file the EAD application once s/he enters the US in E-3 dependent status. It generally takes 3 months for the application to be approved.

How do I apply for an E-3 visa?

You can apply for the visa directly at a US Consulate or Embassy, where you must present a job offer letter, certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) and evidence of tertiary qualifications and/or licenses, along with the requisite visa application forms, supporting documentation and visa application fees. A consular officer will determine whether the educational and employment information provided meets the eligibility requirements for an E-3 visa.

How can I find out more about the E-3 visa and if I am eligible?

You and/or your employer may schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. The consultation fee would be applied toward preparation of the E-3 visa application.