E3 Dependent Visa

The E-3 visa classification permits spouses and children under 21 to join principal applicants who are coming to the US to perform services in specialty occupations that require theoretical and practical application of knowledge in professional fields, or earning a bachelor’s degree.


E-3 visa holders are permitted to bring in their spouses and children (known as dependents) into the US as dependents. Spouses can work under an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), while dependent children can attend school here and apply for post-completion OPT after finishing high school. E-3 dependents do not need to work in specialty occupations but instead must satisfy certain educational and wage requirements set by the Department of Labor.

Spouses and children of E-3 visa holders must be legally married; USCIS does not recognize de facto relationships or same sex partnerships as valid relationships and will require them to apply for another nonimmigrant visa instead. Once in the US, spouses can change jobs but for this to happen they must first secure a transfer approval from USCIS; this process requires extensive knowledge of USCIS regulations.

Foreign nationals in E-3 status have the responsibility of upholding their eligibility for visa entry and engaging in activities which would violate it, while it is also upheld as family member’s duty to stay under E-3 dependent status. Should any reason arise whereby leaving the US becomes necessary, USCIS requires you to request a change of status before its expiration date by visiting any Social Security Office with valid passport, visa and I-94 card indicating entry under E-3 status.


The E3 visa is a nonimmigrant worker program that enables Australian citizens to enter the US to work in specialty occupations. A US employer must sponsor them with jobs that require specific knowledge or require at least a bachelor’s degree – as well as being able to pay the prevailing wage in their state or territory of employment.

Under dependent E-3 visa classification, spouses and children of E3 visa holders can join them to the United States under dependent status. While the spouse may work incident to their status, children do not. Spouses and children do not necessarily need to be Australian nationals but must provide evidence of their relationship to the visa holder via acceptable documentation.

If a family member is already present in the US on another type of visa, they can switch over to an E3 dependent visa by filing a petition with USCIS along with an LCA. Before doing this, however, it’s advisable to consult an experienced E3 visa lawyer because filing this petition must take place within 180 days from either their previous visa’s expiration date or 60 days from when their employee filed their nonimmigrant worker petition with USCIS; failing this requirement can invalidate it altogether and make their stay more challenging than expected.

Specialty Occupations

Specialty occupations encompass graduate-level jobs that require theoretical or technical expertise. Examples of specialty jobs include architects, graphic designers, software developers and other IT specialists as well as accountants, lawyers, consultants and engineers.

To be eligible for the E3 visa, your job must meet certain requirements as detailed in a Labor Condition Application (LCA), filed by your employer with the US Department of Labor to attest that it is a specialty occupation and that you possess all of its requirements.

In today’s more stringent environment for specialty occupations, the requirements are increasingly stringent. It is generally believed that any graduate-level job requiring the application of highly specialised knowledge should be classified as a specialty occupation – this would include massage therapists, airline pilots and assistant college sports coaches in the past that were H-1B approved – this means many jobs that previously qualified such as massage therapy would no longer qualify under H-1B approval standards.

If you are granted an E3 visa, your spouse and children can join you in the United States. They cannot work, but can attend schools and universities there. In order to bring them over to America legally, however, a separate petition needs to be filed on their behalf in order to allow entry. Likewise, all family members must possess valid passports as well as copies of your approved LCA before being permitted entry.


While it is possible to extend E-3 status while in the United States, it can often be more cost effective and time efficient to travel abroad and apply at a consulate there instead of filing with USCIS directly. Consular processing offers faster results.

E-3 visa extensions are limited in duration and applicants should carefully understand both their rights and responsibilities associated with holding this type of visa before making an application. It is critical for E-3 holders to keep up their qualifying criteria – an active work assignment, pay, and Labor Condition Application (LCA).

An E-3 visa holder may only work for the employer who sponsored them; working for any other employers (or freelancing) would constitute a violation of his/her status and could lead to deportation from the United States and being prohibited from returning for an indeterminate amount of time.

E-3 dependent spouses are allowed to work while visiting the US and are able to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), although it is vital that they keep their visa status current by filing all appropriate paperwork on time and before changing jobs in the US consult with an attorney first.