Visas For Specialty Occupation Workers Coming To The U.S. From Australia
Portion of the content on this page is available as public information on the USCIS website.
Criteria for Eligibility
The E-3 nonimmigrant visa category only applies to nationals of Australia, who are temporarily hired by the U.S. company solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. A “specialty occupation” is defined as an occupation that requires (1) theoretical practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and (2) 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. The nonimmigrant in a specialty occupation must possess the following qualifications:
- Full state licensure to practice in the occupation, if licensure is required for the occupation;
- Completion of the required degree; or
- Experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of such degree and recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty.
The E-3 visa is subject to an annual quota of 10,500, but this quota is not reached, so applicants can apply for the E-3 visa at any time of year.
It is possible to apply for the E-3 visa as a change of status application from within the United States or a foreign national can apply for the visa directly with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
If applying directly with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, the petitioning employer does not need to file an I-129 petition with USCIS. However, the petitioner must prepare and file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor and must also attest that it will pay the E-3 employee at least the minimum “prevailing wage” for the position.
Once the LCA is approved, the employer prepares an application package including evidence that the position qualifies as a specialty occupation and that the foreign national is qualified with for the position and meets the minimum degree requirement. The foreign national completes the U.S. Department of State’s online visa application—DS-160, pays the visa fee, and schedules the visa appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. The foreign national presents the E-3 application package at the visa appointment. If the visa appointment is successful, the foreign national will receive the E-3 visa in their passport and they will be able to enter the United States and begin working in E-3 status.
If the foreign national is in the United States in another nonimmigrant visa status, they can choose to submit a change of status application from within the United States. In this case, the petitioning employer prepares the LCA and then files a petition for a nonimmigrant work visa with USCIS. If the E-3 petition is approved, USCIS will issue an I-797 Approval Notice and the foreign national will automatically be in E-3 status.
Initial: The E-3 status is valid for a 2-year period.
Extension: Extensions of stay may be granted indefinitely in increments of up to 2 years.
Change of Employer
E-3 visa holders are able to change employers by having a new employer sponsor a new E-3 petition on their behalf.
Family of Visa Holder
Dependents of E-3 visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) may apply for the E-3 visa. E-3 spouses may obtain work authorization in the United States. E-3 visa holder’s unmarried minor children may live and attend schools in the United States, but cannot work.
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