The E3 Visa – Specialty Occupations

visa e3

If you’re an Australian citizen planning on coming to the US to work in a specialty occupation, you may be eligible for the E3 visa.

There are several steps to apply for the visa, including a visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. The interview will evaluate your qualifications and nonimmigrant intent.

What is the E3 visa?

The E3 visa is a nonimmigrant work visa available only to Australian nationals. It is within the E category of visas and was created under the terms of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The initial visa is granted for two years and can be extended indefinitely. Positions in the E-3 classification must be “specialty occupations” as defined by the AUSFTA. Positions must require a specialized body of knowledge and the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Unlike the H-1B visa, a petition is not required to be filed with USCIS for an E-3 visa. This reduces the burden on your US-based employer and significantly cuts down processing times for the visa.

If you are an Australian national and are interested in relocating to the United States in an E-3 visa-qualifying specialty occupation, the experienced attorneys at Galstyan Law can help you with the process. Contact us today to get started. Our firm has helped numerous Australians start their work-life in the United States, and we look forward to helping you too.

Who is eligible for the E3 visa?

The E3 visa is a specialty occupation work visa for citizens of Australia. It was enacted in May 2005 as the result of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).

To be eligible for an E-3, you must be offered employment in a “specialty occupation.” This is an occupation that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge. Specialty occupations also require a high level of education and/or substantial work experience.

US employers must file a labor condition application, or LCA, with the Department of Labor before they can apply for an E-3 visa on behalf of their employees. The LCA certifies that the job in question meets certain requirements, including that it does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of US workers in the same job title, occupation, or pay grade.

If you are already in the United States and wish to extend your stay as an E-3, you will have to leave the country, obtain a new visa at a US consulate abroad, and then return to the US. This is a cumbersome process, and it is not eligible for Premium Processing.

How do I apply for the E3 visa?

The process starts with your US employer filing a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor. The LCA certifies that the job offered to you is a “specialty occupation,” and that your salary will be at or above the prevailing wage for your profession.

If the LCA is approved, your US employer will then file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on your behalf. This is a lengthy process that requires extensive supporting documents. It’s best to work with a lawyer to ensure that all of your forms are filled out correctly and that you have all the required documentation ready before your interview date.

Once your petition is filed, you’ll need to wait for a visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate. Bring your passport and all other required documents to the interview, which will be conducted by a consular officer. Be sure to take care of yourself throughout the process – it can be stressful!

What are the requirements for the E3 visa?

The E3 visa is a non-immigrant work visa that allows for two years of employment with unlimited renewals. It does not lead to a green card and requires a company to file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) for each applicant to ensure that they are being paid the prevailing wage for their specific occupation. This process is a bit more involved than a standard job offer letter and should be drafted by a lawyer to make sure it covers all of the required elements.

Once the LCA is filed, the company can file a change of status petition or visa application to USCIS. It is preferable for employers to apply for the visa at a consulate overseas because the process is much faster than applying from inside the United States. Generally, it takes 4-6 weeks to have your interview at the consulate and receive a decision. The visa is then affixed to the passport and you are ready to start your employment.