E-3 Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
What is the E-3 classification? The E-3 classification is only for Australian foreign nationals. In order to be eligible, Australian nationals must travel to the United States for the purpose of performing services in a specialty occupation. The foreign national must obtain a legitimate employment offer and provide evidence of their qualifications (academic equivalence to a bachelor’s degree or relevant work experience). A foreign national cannot self-petition themselves for an E-3 visa, an American employer must do so on their behalf. The employer must attest that they will pay the foreign worker the higher of the actual or prevailing wages according to the foreign worker’s position and work location when signing the Labor Condition Application (LCA). Employers can access prevailing wage information by visiting the Online Wage Library Foreign Labor Certification Data Center.
What is a Specialty Occupation?
A specialty occupation is one that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in an area most often associated with the STEM occupational fields. Specialty occupations typically require the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent in order to qualify for the occupation.
Applying for an E-3 Visa from the United States
In order to apply for an E-3 visa, the foreign national’s employer must submit USCIS Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker along with the E supplement and supporting documents. The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the E-3 visa petition. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case. The list includes but is not limited to the following items:
- A Labor Condition Application (LCA) ETA -9035 specifying the application as an E-3 LCA;
- 2 American style passport photographs of the beneficiary;
- Academic or other credentials demonstrating the beneficiary’s qualifications for the position;
- Job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that the beneficiary of the petition will be engaged in a specialty occupation and will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage;
- The beneficiary must obtain the necessary licenses or other official permissions to practice in the specialty occupation (if applicable);
- The beneficiary’s biographical documentation such as passport ID page (copy), U.S. Visas issued to the foreign worker (copy), copy of I-20 (if applicable), copy of DS-2019 (if applicable),
- Beneficiary’s resume;
- Copies of the Passport ID pages of dependents, marriage certificate and birth certificates of children (if applicable);
- Dependents of E-3 principal applicants in lawful status in the United States must seek a change of status on USCIS Form I-539 (dependents cannot seek a change of status if they have entered the United States on the visa waiver program);
Applying for an E-2 Visa at a U.S. Consulate/Embassy Abroad
If the Beneficiary is in the United States in lawful status, the Petitioner should request a Change/Extension of status on USCIS Form I-129 and E Supplement on behalf of the Beneficiary. The Beneficiary will not be able to travel outside of the United States while the petition is pending.
If the Beneficiary is outside of the United States the Beneficiary must apply for the E-3 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad once the I-129 is approved. The Beneficiary will need to complete Form DS-160 and schedule a Consular interview once all documents have been gathered. Once the petition is approved the Beneficiary will be able to obtain their E-3 visa at their local U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
Duration of Stay
An E-3 visa holder may be admitted for an initial period of no more than 2 years. The spouse and minor children accompanying the principal E-3 visa holder shall be admitted for the period during which the principal is in valid E-3 status.
Extensions of stay can be granted in increments of two years, generally with no limit on the amount of extensions that can be sought. The employer may extend the Beneficiary’s duration of stay by filing an application for extension of stay on Form I-129 and E Supplement, with required accompanying documents.
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of E-3 workers are entitled to the same E-3 classification with the same restrictions as the principal. Only the spouse of an E-3 principal worker is entitled to work authorization. To work in the United States the spouse of an E-3 visa holder can apply for USCIS Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
Change of Employment
Change of employment is possible if the foreign national has a bona fide job offer in a specialty occupation. The new employment must submit a new E-3 visa application and Labor Condition Application on their behalf. The gap should be no more than 10 days.