Non-Immigrant Temporary Work Visa for Australians


The E-3 visa is a non-immigrant temporary work visa available for Australians. The qualifications for an E-3 visa are very similar to the H-1B work visa but the E-3 visa is reserved for Australian nationals only. The E-3 visa is an employer-sponsored process and requires an employer-employee relationship for approval. It enables U.S. employers to hire qualified Australian nationals for specialty occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Although there is a cap for the E-3 visas (similar to the H-1B visas), the cap has never been met and therefore, Australian nationals can usually apply for E-3 visas throughout the year without the cap restriction that accompanies H-1B petitions.

The duration of each E-3 visa is two years and can later be extended. There is no maximum number of extensions but the employee must be able to show that he or she has no intent to reside permanently in the U.S. The spouse and children of an E-3 worker may apply for E-3 derivative status. An E-3 spouse (unlike an H-4) may work in the United States by filing for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and work independently without visa sponsorship.

Specialty Occupation

To qualify as a specialty occupation, the position that is offered to the E-3 worker must require at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent. In addition, the application must demonstrate that the worker has the necessary educational or professional background to perform the job duties. Most bachelor’s degrees obtained in Australia would be compatible with a U.S. bachelor’s degree. A reputable academic evaluation company can verify this and prepare an evaluation that can be submitted with the E-3 application.

If the worker does not have a Bachelor’s degree in a field related to the position being offered, work experience or a combination of education and experience, can be applied to show that he or she has the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. USCIS considers three years of documented related work experience as equivalent to one year of college studies. The experience must be professional and progressive in order to qualify. Therefore, for someone without any college education, 12 years of work experience must be shown in order to be the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. Again, a reputable evaluation company can verify this and issue an evaluation for USCIS or the consulate.

The Labor Condition Application

The first step in the E-3 process is the filing of the Labor Condition Application or LCA with the U.S. Department of Labor. The process must be filed electronically through DOL’s iCert portal and takes approximately 7 days to be certified. The LCA includes a number of attestations by the employer, including attestations regarding the wage it will pay, the position, the location of employment, where the LCA files will be kept, etc.

Applying for the Visa

After the LCA is certified, an application for an E-3 visa must be assembled and submitted to the U.S. Embassy or consulate in Australia with jurisdiction over the person’s place of residence. The consulate will then call the applicant for an interview, and if all the qualifications are met, issue the E-3 visa. In certain circumstances, the applicant may be able to file for the E-3 visa with a change of status in the U.S., in which case the E-3 application with appropriate forms and supporting documentation can be submitted to USCIS.

If you wish to file an E-3 visa for yourself or for an employee, and minimize any potential for delays or denials, call our office to start your application today.

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