Hiring an E-3 Australian Specialty Occupation Worker

The E-3 visa category is reserved for Australian professionals who come to the U.S. to perform services in specialty occupations.  E-3 holders are expected to maintain an intention to depart the U.S. upon the expiration of their authorized stay. Employment may commence only upon receipt of USCIS approval.
Requirements for E-3 Status
In order to qualify for E-3 status the foreign national must:
  • Be of Australian nationality;
  • Work in a specialty occupation, i.e. an occupation requiring a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in order to successfully perform the duties of the position;
  • Demonstrate that he or she meets the academic and other requirements of the occupation;
  • Demonstrate a job offer from a U.S. employer in the specialty occupation with a wage that is higher of either the prevailing or actual wage for the position; and
  • The foreign national’s prospective employer must obtain an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL).

E-3 status holders may be admitted to the U.S. for a period of up to 2 years.  This status can be extended for increments of up to 2 years.  Currently there is no limit on the number of extensions an E-3 holder can have.
Applying for E-3 Status Outside the U.S.
Australian nationals who are outside the United States must apply for the E-3 directly at a
U.S. consulate. It is important to note that prior USCIS approval of a petition is not required in these cases. The only requirement is for the prospective employer to file an LCA with DOL. Once the LCA is certified, the individual may apply for the E-3 visa at a U.S. consular post abroad by presenting the following:
  • Original certified Labor Condition Application (Form ETA 9035);
  • Evidence of academic or other qualifying credentials to establish the applicant’s eligibility for E-3 status such as a certified copy of a foreign equivalent degree as evidence that the applicant possesses education and experience that is equivalent to a U.S. degree;
  • Offer letter from the employer establishing that the applicant will be engaged in qualifying work in a specialty occupation, the anticipated length of the appointment, arrangements for remuneration, evidence the E-3 holder meets the educational requirement and any licensure or occupational requirements for the position; a certified copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment if necessary; and
  • Evidence of payment of the machine readable visa (MRV) fee and fully executed form DS-156 and any other requirements specific to the consular post.

When planning for the arrival of an E-3 from outside the U.S., consider the length of time it may take for DOL to certify the LCA as well as for the employee to obtain the visa from the U.S. consulate.
Applying for E-3 status Inside the U.S.
Under current USCIS procedures, foreign nationals who are in the U.S. and wish to change status to E-3 or extend their existing E-3 status must have a petition filed with USCIS by the prospective employer.
Documents required by ISFS:

Required documentation must be submitted upon request by Immigration Affairs through Tracker. 

The petition for an employee’s change to, or extension of E-3 status must be submitted to USCIS in a timely manner. Because the petition involves approval by federal agencies outside the control of Immigration Affairs, allow 6 months for this process.
Dependents of E-3 holders do not have to be Australian nationals to have E-3 status.  They may apply to USCIS for work authorization.