Established by the REAL ID Act of 2005, the E-3 nonimmigrant classification allows an Australian national to enter the U.S. to perform services in a “specialty occupation”. E-3 nonimmigrant status is initially granted for a period of no more than two years but extensions of stay may be granted indefinitely in increments not to exceed two years. In order to obtain an E-3 classification, the employer must demonstrate that the position, for which the E-3 is being filed, requires a professional in a “specialty occupation” and, further, the foreign national (beneficiary) meets the required qualifications and is an Australian national.
A “specialty occupation” is an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and 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.
During each fiscal year running from October 1 to September 30, USCIS (US Citizenship & Immigration Services) allows up to 10,500 foreign nationals to receive initial E-3 status.
E-3 Procedure & Requirements
- The Australian national must have a U.S. equivalent bachelor’s degree;
- Attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) should be the minimum entry into the occupation;
- The petitioner must obtain a labor conditional application (LCA) from the U.S. department of Labor;
- Upon approval of the LCA, the employer should file a Form I-129 petition with the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (US CIS);
- Instead of employer first obtaining the I-129 approval notice, the Australian national has the option to apply for a E-3 visa at a US Consulate with a proof of Australian nationality, certified LCA, and a letter from the prospective U.S. employer describing the alien’s occupation, the alien’s anticipated length of stay, and salary/remuneration arrangements;
- Unlike H-1B, individuals in E-3 status are not covered by 8 CFR 274a.12.12(b)(20), which provides authorization to continue employment with the same employer while a timely filed application for extension of stay is pending;
- Similarly, portability provisions of H-1B are not available to E-3 worker.
- The spouse and unmarried child/ren below the age of 21, regardless of their nationality, are allowed to accompany/join the E-3 beneficiary;
- Unlike the dependent of an alien in H-1B nonimmigrant classification, the dependent spouse of an E-3 worker may apply for and receive work authorization;
- As E-3 is a separate classification from the H-1B classification, the additional fee required for H-1B do not apply to E-3 applicants.