The E-3 visa is a new work permit visa for Australian nationals similar to the H-1B, allowing aliens from Australia to work for an American employer in a specialty occupation. The E-3 visa was signed into law by President Bush under the Read ID Act on May 11, 2005.

What is a “Specialty Occupation”?

A “specialty occupation” is one that requieres theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor¿s degree or an equivalent. Some common specialty occupations are:

  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Physical and Social Sciences
  • Medicine and Health
  • Accounting
  • Law

What do I need to apply for an E-3 visa?

Before applying for an E-3 visa you must have a sponsoring U.S. employer. The employer will submit an application to the Department of Labor (DOL). Unlike the H-1B visa, no petition needs to be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and applications may be filed directly at an American consulate.

I Operate a U.S. Business. How can I hire Australian Workers using the E-3 Visa?

A company hiring an E-3 visa foreign worker has many responsibilities and the guidance of an immigration attorney is strongly encouraged. The employer must take all of the following steps:

  • Determining the actual and prevailing wage for the position
  • Informing workers or their representatives of the intent to hire a foreign worker
  • Submitting a Labor Conditions Application with the Department of Labor
  • Once approved, then the employee applies for the E-3
  • The foreign worker cannot begin their employment until the E-3 visa is granted

Is there a limit on the number of E-3 visas issued?

Yes, the number of E-3 visas will be limited to 10,500 per year. The spouse and children may accompany the E-3 applicant, and they will not be counted toward the limit.

What is the time limit on the E-3 visa?

The time limit to stay in the U.S. on an E-3 visa is the same as the other E class visas (E-1 or E-2), which is five years. All of the E class visas may be renewed indefinitely.

Can spouses of E-3 visa holders work?

Yes, such spouses of E-3 visa holders are entitled to work authorization.

Can I convert from H-1B to E-3 visa status?

Yes, it should be possible. E-3 visa holders also do not need to demonstrate that they are coming to the United States for a limited time nor do they need proof of a residence in their home country to which they can return. The applicable fees for an E-3 visa should also be much less than for an H-1B.

Do I need a lawyer to get an E-3 visa?

Whether you are an employer or an employee, applying for a work permit can be troublesome. An immigration lawyer can help avoid potential complications in filing an E-3 visa application.