E3 Work Visa Program Australian Nationals/Citizens only

The process to obtain an E3 work visa is the same as to obtain an H1B Visa (you must first find a job with a sponsor company). This means that H-1B employers and sponsors also recruit and hire people on E3 visas.

The regulations implementing the new E3 visa were published in the US Federal Register on 2 September 2005. With the publication of the regulations, Australians are now able to apply for E3 visas in order to live and work in the USA. The E3 visa will help Australian business people and professionals capitalise on the opportunities offered under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA).

Qualified Australians wishing to live and work in the USA now find themselves in a privileged position. They have access to a dedicated visa that is easier and less costly to obtain than the traditional H-1B work visa. 10,500 E3 visas per annum have been reserved exclusively for Australian nationals. Unlike the H1B Visa, spouses of E3 visa holders are now able to work in the United States - eliminating a barrier that in practice has stopped many Australians from applying for temporary residence in the US. E-3 visa holders will be able to apply for extensions. The application fee for an E3 visa is significantly lower than for the H1B Visa.

To qualify for an E3 visa, an applicant must demonstrate:

  • that he or she must have a legitimate offer of employment in the US
  • that the position he or she is coming to fill qualifies as specialty occupation employment
  • that he or she is an Australian citizen
  • that he or she has the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials
  • that his or her stay will be temporary, and
  • if required before the alien may commence employment in the specialty occupation, that he or she has the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation.

An approved Labor Condition Application is required and no more than 10,500 E3 visas can be issued per year.

E3 Work Visa Update

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USClS) issued guidance today regarding E3 nonimmigrant Specialty Occupation Workers. In particular, USCIS provided specific information on the eligibility requirements and documentation needed for individuals wishing to either change their nonimmigrant status to that of an E3 worker or to extend their E3 status.

Established by the REAL ID Act of 2005, the E3 nonimmigrant classification allows for the admission of a temporary worker who is national of Australia and is entering the U.S. to perform services in a “specialty occupation.” As is generally the case, nonimmigrant aliens who are already legally in the United States may apply to change their status to that of an E-3 specialty worker and, eventually, apply to extend their stay in E3 classification.

Note: The new E3 nonimmigrant category should not be confused with the separate and independent H-1B nonimmigrant category for “specialty occupation” workers.

To qualify for E3 classification, an alien must, among other things, be an Australian national who is seeking employment in a specialty occupation requiring possession of a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent), and possess the appropriate degree (or its equivalent) in the field in which the alien wishes to work. E3 nonimmigrant status is initially granted for a period of no more than two years. Extensions of stay may be granted indefmitely in increments not to exceed two years.

Congress has established a yearly cap of 10,500 new E3 workers. For purposes of the cap, “new E3 workers” are those who, coming from abroad, are admitted initially in E-3 classification or those who change their nonimmigrant status to E3 classification or change employers while in E3 status. Unlike the dependent of an alien in H-1B nonimmigrant classification, the dependent spouse of an E-3 temporary worker may apply for and receive work authorization.

An alien seeking to be admitted in E3 nonimmigrant classification at a U.S. Port-of-Entry must posses a valid E3 visa issued by the U.S. Department of State. Aliens already in the United States may request a change of status to E3 or extend their E3 status by filing a Form 1- 129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) directly with the Vermont Service Center. The cost for filing the request for change of status or extension of stay is $190. In addition to the Form 1-129, applicants must include the following documentation:

  • Proof of Australian nationality,
  • A letter from the prospective U.S. employer describing the alien’s occupation, the alien’s anticipated length of stay, and salary/remuneration arrangements,
  • Evidence that the alien meets the educational requirements for the position to be filled (a bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent in the specific specialty occupation),
  • Evidence that the alien meets any licensing or other occupational requirements, and
  • Evidence that the prospective U.S. employer has filed with the Department of Labor a labor condition application (LCA) specifically designated for E3 Specialty Occupations.

More information about the E3 temporary work visa and temporary worker programs in general is available on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov and on the Department of State website at www.state.gov.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions About E3 Visas if you have any questions.

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