Since 2005, under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), qualified Australians have access to a dedicated visa that is both easier and less expensive to obtain than the alternative H-1B work visa. Each year 10,500 E-3 visas are reserved exclusively for Australian nationals. Unlike H-1B visas, spouses of E-3 visa holders are also able to work in the United States.
The E-3 visa requires a bachelor’s degree, a job offer in the U.S., and the skills for a position that qualifies as a speciality occupation (e.g. finance, accounting, engineering, or technology).
The E-3 program allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers from Australia in the U.S. on a non-immigrant basis in specialty occupations. Current laws limit the annual number of qualifying foreign workers who may be issued an E-3 visa to 10,500 Australian nationals seeking temporary work in specialty occupations. For information regarding the E-3 cap, E-3 cap qualifications and E-3 petitions, see the USCIS website, the Department of Labor website, and Consular sections of the Department of State website for Australia.
Q: What is an E-3 specialty occupation ?
A: A “specialty occupation” 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.
Determination of a “specialty occupation” follows the definition contained at INA 214 (i)(1) for H-1B non-immigrants and applicable standards and criteria set by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Q: Does the Employer of the E-3 visa applicant need to do anything ?
A: The employer prepare, file, and obtain approval of a Labor Condition Application (LCA), ETA Form 9035, from the Department of Labor.
Q: What does the Employee need to do?
A: After obtaining the LCA, the employer files a Petition with USCIS for the employee as a non-immigrant worker.
After approval of the petition, the employee must start non-immigrant “consular processing” visa application at the US Deptartment of State. It may also be possible to file for a change of status if the employee is already in the U.S.
E-3 Visas in the News
US toughens up on Australian work visas (E-3 great for skilled workers, but not a way around immigration laws)
Getting a visa to work in the U.S.