E-3 Specialty Occupation Workers from Australia
Are you a national of Australia looking to go to the United States to work in a specialty occupation? The E-3 Visa could be the right pathway for you.
What is an E-3 Visa?
The E-3 visa classification applies only to nationals of Australia, their spouses, and children under the age of 21. E-3 principal applicants must be going to the United States solely to work in a specialty occupation that requires a higher degree of education. The spouse and children do not need to be Australian citizens.
Who May Qualify for an E-3 Visa?
Although it has nothing to do with trading and investing, the E-3 visa remains popular among citizens of Australia.
If you work in a qualifying profession, have Australian citizenship, and wish to work in the United States, then you may qualify for an E-3 visa.
Not all professions qualify for the E-3 visa. You need to have a “specialty occupation”. Typically, a specialty occupation is defined as:
- An occupation that requires post-secondary education, including a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree
- An occupation that requires specialized, practical knowledge
A doctor would qualify for an E-3 visa, for example, as would an occupational therapist. However, there’s no specific list of professions that do and do not qualify for the E-3 visa. If your profession requires specialized knowledge or a degree, then it’s possible that you can work in the United States under an E-3 visa.
Generally, this visa is popular for professionals like engineers, business executives, researchers, computer scientists, doctors, and highly-qualified artists or entertainers.
What Are the Requirements for the E-3 Visa?
E-3 visa requirements vary depending on your profession. An E-3 visa applicant seeking to work as a doctor in the United States has different requirements than an E-3 visa applicant seeking to work as a movie director, for example. Generally, however, E-3 visa applicants must abide by the following requirements:
- Must be an Australian citizen (E-3 visas are not available to Australian permanent residents)
- Must have a job offer in the United States from a U.S. company
- The job must be considered a specialty occupation
- You must have the required skills, training, education, and experience to work in that specialty occupation
- You must have any required licenses to practice that specialty occupation, if needed
How Can I Get the E-3 Visa?
The E-3 visa application process is similar to the application process for any American Work Visa. Your employer needs to prove that they can provide a safe and appropriate working environment for the foreign worker. Then, you can begin the rest of the application. Unlike a typical work visa, your employer does not need to file Form I-129 with USCIS.
How to Apply for an E-3 Visa
The first step for your employer is to obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor. If the employer has already hired foreign workers in the past, then the employer may have already received an LCA.
To qualify for an LCA, the employer must prove that they are providing a safe working environment for foreign workers. Employers are also required to demonstrate that they are paying the worker a competitive wage similar to what an American worker would earn. This form can be filed electronically and is labeled ETA 9035E. Once the LCA is approved, you can start the application process.
You will then need to file Form DS-160. Form DS-160 is the standard application form for most non-immigrant visas for the United States. Fill out the form accurately. You can find form DS-160 on the website of your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
Then you will pay the visa application fee and schedule your interview. The E-3 visa has an application fee of $205 USD. Pay the fee and get your receipt.
Once your interview is scheduled, you will need to prepare the required documents. These include a valid passport, a photograph that meets US visa photo requirements, confirmation of visa fee payment, DS-160 form submission, letter from your employer confirming the job offer, and Form ETA 9035 proving your employer has LCA certification.
Applying From Within the United States
When applying for the E-3 visa within the US, a Form I-129 is used to apply for a change of status to or an extension of stay in the E-3 nonimmigrant temporary worker classification.
You must include the following documents with the Form I-129:
- A Labor Condition Application (LCA);
- Academic or other credentials demonstrating qualifications for the position; and
- A job offer or other documentation from the employer establishing that you will be working in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage.
Applying From Outside the United States
If your Form I-129 is approved, the US government will forward a Form I-797, Notice of Action/Approval, to your employer, who should forward it to you.
Your next step is to apply for a U.S. visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, generally in your country of residence abroad.
After You File
Once your Form I-129 is received, the embassy will process your application and you will receive a:
- Receipt notice confirming we received your petition;
- Biometric services notice, if applicable;
- Notice to appear for an interview, if required; and
- Notice of our decision.
Family of E-3 Nonimmigrant Workers
The E-3 visa allows for dependents to join you in the United States. The E-3 dependency visa is available to:
- Your legal spouse
- Your unmarried children under 21 years of age
You can apply for an E-3 dependent visa at the same time as the main E-3 visa application. Or, you can apply afterward.
E-3 Visa Processing Time
It takes approximately 4 to 8 weeks to process an E-3 visa, although wait times can vary widely depending on your local U.S. embassy.
How Long Can I Stay in the US With an E-3 Visa?
Typically, the Department of Labor’s LCA will govern the validity of your work visa. The LCA may be granted for a period of two years, for example, in which case your E-3 visa may be valid for two years as well.
The E-3 visa cannot be valid for more than 2 years upon initial approval.
Can I Extend my E-3 Visa?
You can apply for an E-3 visa renewal or extension as long as you are still working in the United States. Your employer must get an LCA with a new validity date and file form I-129. You are also required to file Form I-539 to extend or change your status.
There is no limit to the number of times you can renew or extend your E-3 visa, as long as you can prove that you intend to return to Australia in the future.