What is the E-3 Visa Classification and Who Qualifies?

The E-3 visa is available to nationals of Australia who are professionals coming to the United States to perform services in a “specialty occupation”. E-3 visa requirements are very similar to those of H-1B visa, with a few exceptions. USCIS defines a specialty occupation as a position that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly 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 United States.

To be eligible for an E-3 visa, Australian citizens must meet the following E-3 visa requirements:

  • have an offer of employment in the United States from an American employer. The sponsoring employer must obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) on behalf of the Australian citizen worker’s proposed U.S. position;
  • fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a specific field of study; and
  • have earned the necessary bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent to be qualified for the position. Some Australian degrees are only 3 year degrees and do not meet the criteria on its own. Australian citizens holding a three year degree must also have, at least, three (3) years of prior work experience in the field/related to the job in the U.S. to qualify for E-3 visa.

How to Apply for an E-3 visa

Australian citizens can apply for an E-3 visa directly at a U.S. consular post outside of the U.S. The following documents should be presented at the E-3 visa interview:

  • A certified Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) – filed by the prospective employer in the U.S. on behalf of Australian E-3 visa applicant;
  • Offer letter from the U.S. employer including the nature of position with specific responsibilities to demonstrate the job qualifies as a “specialty occupation”;
  • Documentation of academic or qualifying credentials;
  • If applicable, a certified copy of any required license or other permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment.

Australians applying for E-3 visas typically submit their application at the U.S. consulates in Australia; however, U.S. consulates in other countries may accept, on a discretionary basis, E-3 visa applications from Australians. It is important to check the website of the U.S. consulate to determine if they will process an E-3 visa application from an Australian citizen.

Australian citizens who are present in the U.S. in another visa status who wish to apply for E-3 visa or who already hold E-3 visa and wish to change employers in the U.S. or extend their E-3 visa status can do so by having their U.S. employer file a Petition for Nonimmigration Visa Worker with USCIS on their behalf. The processing of an E-3 visa petition can take several months. They do have an option to use premium processing service which ensures review within only 15 days. For Australian citizens changing employers in the U.S., it is important to know that their E3 visa petition must be approved before they can begin employment with the new employer in the U.S. in E-3 visa status.

E-3 Visa Duration of Stay

E-3 visa status is granted for an initial period of two (2) years and can be extended in two-year increments. There is no limit on E-3 visa extensions, and the number of times Australian citizens can extend their E-3 visas or E-3 visa status. It is important to note that an E-3 visa renewal requires Australian citizens to demonstrate “nonimmigrant intent” or “temporary intent” meaning they have the intention to return to their residence abroad at the end of their stay in the U.S. in E-3 visa status.

E-3 Dependent Visa

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an E-3 visa holder are eligible for E-3 status as dependents. E-3 visa holders’ spouses are eligible to work incident to status. They do not need to apply and secure an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Based on the March 2022 change to U.S. immigration rules, spouses of E-3 visa holders are granted E3S status with an unrestricted ability to work in the U.S.

Contact Us Today

Contact Ellen Freeman and her expert legal team to represent you in your E-3 visa case. As an E-3 visa lawyer, Ellen has helped hundreds of clients obtain and renew their E-3 visas over the past decade. Fill out the form below to schedule a consultation with Ellen and her team.