As you know, the E-3 visa is a U.S. work visa dedicated to Australian citizens. In 2005, the U.S. and Australia entered the Australia – US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). Due to that, they created a specialty visa that only highly qualified Australian citizens can obtain.
Each year, only 10,500 E-3 visas are given to Australians. This visa is reserved for Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia. A specialty occupation is defined as:
⦁ One that has a body of specialized knowledge
⦁ One that requires higher education qualifications such as a Bachelor’s, Master’s or a Doctoral Degree
Only people with a certain amount of work experience and educational qualifications can obtain the E-3 visa. Work experience can substitute educational qualifications if you have worked for more than 12 years in that occupation. Additionally, the applicant must have the necessary credentials if the occupation or profession requires licensing.
Who Can Apply for the E-3 Visa?
Examples of specialty occupations include:
⦁ Computer Scientists.
⦁ Medical Practitioners.
Who Is Eligible for an E-3 Visa?
In order to qualify for an E-3 visa, you must meet a certain set of requirements:
⦁ You must be an Australian citizen.
⦁ You must be in possession of a legitimate offer of employment in the U.S.
⦁ You must fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.
⦁ You must possess the required academic qualifications.
⦁ You must assure your stay in the United States will be temporary.
If you meet these requirements, then your company is able to sponsor you for the visa as an eligible beneficiary. The visa application will be processed, and a response will be given to you. If you get the visa, that does not necessarily guarantee entry into the US. That is at the discretion of the immigration officials at any U.S. point of entry.
E-3 Visa Requirements
Two particularly important elements must be considered in preparing an E-3 visa application.
1. An LCA or Labor Condition Application must be prepared. The LCA helps the U.S. Department of Labor to determine if the job meets the applicable standards. (This is usually returned within 7-10 days.)
2. The job must pay the prevailing wage for the county or state in which the job will be based.
Documents Required for an E-3 Visa
Quite predictably, you need to attach an array of documents to your E-3 visa application. Here is what you will need:
⦁ Your current valid passport.
⦁ The formal employment offer from your employer must be addressed to you, signed on the company’s letterhead, and include a job description specific to your job role.
⦁ A copy of LCA filed by your employer.
⦁ A printed DS-160 confirmation must include your photo and barcode.
⦁ A copy of your documents related to qualifications and degree.
⦁ Supporting documents illustrate that you have ties with your country and don’t intend to settle in the U.S. permanently. This could be anything like owning property in your name.
How to Apply for an E-3 Visa?
Once you have the required documents, you can should file the DS-160, pay the visa fee, and schedule your appointment at the U.S. consulate in Australia. You will be asked a few questions during the interview, and then your application will be processed.
How Much Does an E-3 Visa Cost?
Currently, E-3 visa appointment fees cost $270 at the consulate. This fee is non-refundable. You are not required to pay anything else apart from this. Further, your employer bears no government cost as well as there not be a filing fee associated with an LCA.
E-3 Visa Processing Time
After you send in your application to the U.S. Embassy and complete your interview, the Embassy will review your case and send you their decision. If they approve your visa, you will need to send in your passport for stamping, and then you can go to the U.S. and begin your employment.
How Long is the E-3 Visa Valid?
When the Department of Labor issues the LCA to your employer, it will have specific validity. Your visa validity will match the LCA validity. If the LCA is valid for 6 months, your visa will also be valid for 6 months. Initially, the E-3 visa cannot be valid for more than 24 months or 2 years.
Is It Possible to Renew the E-3 Visa?
After the 2 years, you can apply for an E-3 visa renewal as long as you maintain your eligibility. You can renew or extend the E-3 visa indefinitely if you intend to return to Australia.
How to Change the Employer or Status?
Additionally, you are eligible to change employers if you find a job that suits you better. Your new employer must file and have a new approved LCA. You must start your new job within 10 days of leaving your previous one. If you do not, then your visa status is at risk.
Also, you can change your status if you fulfill the requirements for other visas. If you find an employer willing to sponsor and file an employment petition for you, you can change to H-1B visa status. The H-1B status is limited to a maximum of 6 years with some exceptions, while the E-3 visa can be renewed indefinitely.
As I promised, here’s some bonus information that you may not know about:
When you apply for the E-3 visa, and whenever you renew it, you must prove an intent to return to Australia. That is why going from an E-3 visa to a green card is challenging. The E-3 visa is not dual intent, so it does not allow permanent residence. However, there are ways to obtain a Green Card.
The easiest is to change the status to a dual intent visa. Dual intent visas are H category visas such as the H-1B visa. You can apply for a green card when you get this visa. Another way is if you have family in the U.S., such as a U.S. citizen spouse.
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