E-3 Visa – Australian E Visa
The E-3 visa , also known as the Australian E Visa, authorizes an Australian citizen to work temporarily in the US in a “specialty occupation.” In the E-3 process, the employer is called the “E-3 Petitioner” and the prospective employee is called the “E-3 Beneficiary.”
An Australian granted E-3 status may work in the US for a US employer for up to two years at a time. An E-3 Beneficiary may obtain additional E-3 approvals in two-year increments without limit. However, the E-3 visa is a “nonimmigrant” visa. This means that the application for the initial E-3 visa or renewal can be denied if the E-3 beneficiary indicates an intention to immigrate to the US or to abandon residence in Australia. The E-3 visa will name the specific employer authorized to employ the E-3 beneficiary. Any significant changes in the terms of employment require the advance approval of a new E-3 visa or E-3 petition filed with the USCIS. This is a limit of 10,500 new E-3 visas that may be issued each year. We do not expect this limit to be reached this year.
There is no limit on the number of E-3 employers the E-3 beneficiary may work for, provided the E-3 beneficiary has a separate approval for each employer. An E-3 beneficiary may be approved for concurrent employment with more than one qualifying employer. The spouse of an E-3 beneficiary may obtain a work permit. The work permit generally runs concurrently with E-3 status. The work permit authorizes any type of work, for any type of employer.
E-3 Visa Requirements
E-3 Employer Requirements. The job offered must be in a “specialty occupation.” This means that a specialized bachelor’s degree (or higher) or its equivalent is the minimum requirement for the job, according to the employer’s internal standard and industry standards. In other words, there must be a direct match between the job offered and the E-3 beneficiary’s educational background. Jobs that do not require any specific college degree or a “liberal arts” degree generally do not qualify for E-3. Even if the job requires a specialized degree, the E-3 visa can be denied if the E-3 beneficiary does not have that specialized degree. The employer must have a bona fide need for the beneficiary’s services and have the financial ability to pay the offered wage.
E-3 Employee Requirements. The E-3 beneficiary must be qualified to work in the specialty occupation, by possessing the required degree in the specialty area, or a foreign degree that is equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree in the specialty area. The beneficiary may also qualify through licensure or a combination of education, training, and or experience that is equivalent to the required degree. Equivalency to a bachelor degree is usually found when the beneficiary has three years of applicable work experience for every one year of college that is missing from completing a four-year bachelor degree program in a specialized field.
The E-3 process involves two steps. The first step is to obtain an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor. The second step is to obtain an E-3 visa stamp from an American Consulate or Embassy outside the United States. An E-3 beneficiary who is inside the US may apply for a change of status to E-3 with the USCIS. If the change of status is approved, the E-3 beneficiary is not required to depart the US and obtain the E-3 visa stamp in order to start working.
1. The Labor Condition Application. The Labor Condition Application (LCA) is filed with the Department of Labor. The LCA is the employer’s attestation regarding compliance with the following conditions:
(A). Wages & Benefits. The E-3 beneficiary must receive the higher of either (1) the average wage that the employer pays to other employees in the same position and location, or (2) the industry average wage (called the prevailing wage) in that location. The E-3 beneficiary must receive employee benefits on the same basis as US workers
(B). Working Conditions. Employment of the E-3 beneficiary may not adversely affect the working conditions of other workers
(C). No Strike or Lockout. There may not be any strike, lockout or work stoppage in the E-3 occupation at the place of employment.
(D). Notice to Workers. Notice of the LCA must be provided to other company employees in the same occupation. A copy of the LCA must be provided to the E-3 beneficiary.
2. After the LCA has been approved, the E-3 beneficiary may obtain E-3 employment authorization in either of two ways:
(A) The E-3 Visa Stamp. After the LCA has been approved, the employee may go to an American Embassy or Consulate overseas to obtain an E-3 visa stamp. The visa stamp in the passport is required for entry into the United States in E-3 status. Dependent family members follow the same process to receive their visas. The E-3 visa stamping process normally is completed within 1 to 5 days after an interview at the American Embassy or Consulate. Any American Consulate may issue an E-3 visa. However, since this is a newly created visa, we recommend that Australian citizens apply for the visa from an American Consulate located in Australia. The E-3 visa is valid for two years, allowing multiple entries during this period. The E-3 visa may be reissued following the same process.
(B) The E-3 Petition. If the E-3 beneficiary is present in the US in a nonimmigrant category (other than “visa waiver”), after the LCA has been approved, the employer may file an E-3 petition with the USCIS. An E-3 petition may be approved for up to two years, and extensions are available indefinitely. The processing time for an E-3 petition varies between 1 to 5 months. The USCIS offers premium processing, which commits them to completing case action within 15 days.
Because government processing times vary and a case may have special circumstances, the E-3 beneficiary should not make any final plans such as starting or terminating employment or school, traveling to or from the United States, purchasing nonrefundable tickets, selling or buying property, signing or terminating a lease, shipping or storing personal goods, etc., until E-3 status is granted.