The E-3 is a nonimmigrant visa category which allows Australian nationals to work in specialty occupations in the U.S. This category also allows for spouses of E-3 visa holders to apply for work authorization in the U.S. A maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas is issued annually during each fiscal year, which runs from October 1st to September 30. Spouses and children of applicants do not count against the quota, and neither do applicants extending their E-3 visa status whilst still in the U.S. and working for the same employer. The annual E-3 cap has never been reached, a key advantage over the H-1B visa category.
The E-3 visa classification currently applies only to nationals of Australia as well as their spouses and children. E-3 principal applicants must be going to the United States solely to work in a specialty occupation. The dependent spouse of an E-3 worker is eligible to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD).
In order to qualify for the E-3 visa category, a valid job offer from an U.S. employer is required. The job offered should be a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one that requires a 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 United States.
An E-3 visa applicant must meet academic and occupational requirements, including licensure where appropriate, for admission into the United States in a specialty occupation. If the job requires licensure or other official permission to perform the specialty occupation, the applicant must submit proof of the requisite license or permission before the E-3 visa may be granted. In certain cases where such a license or other official permission is not immediately required to perform the duties described in the visa application, the Australian national must show that he or she will obtain such licensure within a reasonable period of time following admission to the United States.
If the E-3 visa applicant is outside the United States, the employer is not required to submit a petition with the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services as a prerequisite for visa issuance. However, the employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor. If the E-3 visa applicant is already present in the United States on another type of nonimmigrant visa, the U.S. employer may file a petition with the USCIS seeking change to E-3 nonimmigrant visa status.
If an E-3 visa holder changes employers while outside the U.S., a new E-3 visa must be obtained at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas. He or she may also change employers while in the US. The new employer must file a new Labor Condition Application (LCA), and a petition for a nonimmigrant worker must be approved by the USCIS authorizing the new employment.
The validity of the E-3 visa will not exceed the validity period of the LCA. The Department of State and DHS have agreed to a 24-month maximum validity period for E-3 visas. This validity may be renewed indefinitely as long as there is a valid employment and the position is not a permanent one.
Since E-3 is a nonimmigrant visa which allows for entry into the U.S. to be temporarily employed in a specialty occupation, an E-3 visa applicant must satisfy the consular officer that s/he intends to depart upon termination of status.
An E-3 visa holder can enter the U.S. 10 days before the start date of employment and can stay for 10 days after termination of employment within which time he/she must depart the U.S. The E-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa, so provided the E-3 visa holder has not changed employers or made any other changes to his/her immigration status, he/she may travel outside the U.S. and re-enter on a valid, unexpired E-3 visa.
Please contact our law firm to evaluate your eligibility without obligation if you have a job offer from a U.S. employer and believe that you qualify for the E-3 category.
[Note: Please consult with an attorney specializing in Immigration & Nationality law for professional advice in specific situations.]