E-3 Specialty Occupation Visa For Australian Nationals

Posted on Feb 10, 2020 by Chris Prescott

What is an E-3 Visa?

The E-3 visa is very similar to the H-1B visa in the sense that it is reserved for individuals working in a specialty occupation.  However, the E-3 visa is specifically for Australian nationals, their spouses and children under the age of 21.

What is specialty occupation?

The definition of “specialty occupation” is a position 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.

To qualify an individual must not only demonstrate that the position typically requires a specific Bachelor’s degree, but also that they possess the relevant degree and are therefore qualified to perform the duties of the proffered position.

Do I need an Offer of Employment to apply for an E-3 visa?

Yes, you can only apply for an E-3 visa if you have a bonafide offer of employment to work in a specialty occupation.

Does my Employer have to pay me a certain wage?

Yes, your employer has to file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.  The Department of Labor’s regulations requires that the wages offered to a foreign worker must be the prevailing wage rate for the occupational classification in the area of employment.   The prevailing wage rate can be determined by using the Online wage library at https://flcdatacenter.com/

Is there a lottery like there is for an H-1B?

Although there are only 10,500 E-3 visas available each year, these almost never get used up, so in the majority of cases, it is possible to apply for an E-3 visa at any time of the year.  This makes the E-3 visa a far more attractive option than the H-1B.

How long can I stay on an E-3 visa for?

E-3 visas are issued in 2-year increments, but unlike the H-1B, there is no limit to how long an individual can remain on an E-3.

How do I apply for an E-3 visa?

If you are outside of the U.S. you can apply for an E-3 visa directly at the Consulate in your Country of Residence.  If you are in the U.S. in another status you can apply for a change of status to E-3 by submitting Form I-129.

Family of E-3 visa holders.

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for an E-3 visa also.  Additionally, spouses can apply for work authorization by submitting I-765 to USCIS.

Can I change employers while on an E-3 visa?

Yes, while it is possible to switch employers while on an E-3 visa,  your new employer would need to submit a completed I-129 petition to USCIS. Unlike the H-1B visa which allows individuals to change employers after the petition has been submitted and received by USCIS, an individual cannot change employers until the new E-3 petition is actually approved.

If you are interested in filing an E-3 visa or would like further information please contact our Senior Immigration Attorney, Chris Prescott at cprescott@patellegal.com