The E-3 visa was specifically designed to allow Australian professionals to come to the US to work in specialty occupations. This page generally discusses the E3 visa application process and what it takes to qualify. If you are an Australian professional or a U.S. employer, this page should hopefully answer some of your questions, and perhaps help you decide if you should consult an immigration attorney. The following topics are covered on this page:
- E-3 visa basics
- Labor Condition Application
- Applying for an E3 visa
- Can My Family Join Me?
- Consulting an Immigration Attorney
While this page discusses certain subjects related to immigration law, it is not intended as a substitute for speaking directly with an attorney. If you have questions about what it takes to qualify or apply for an E-3 visa, contact our office to see how we can help.
E3 Visa Basics
The E-3 visa first became available to Australian professionals in 2005 under the presidency of George W. Bush. Part of larger federal legislation regulating driver’s licenses and ID cards, the law included provisions relating to Australian visa limits and workers. As suggested by the legal blog Immigration Daily, this may have stemmed from the fact that immigration concessions have become increasingly valuable bargaining chips between global trade and military allies.
Currently, the U.S. issues 10,500 E-3 visas annually. Only Australian professionals with an offer to work in a specialty occupation in the U.S. are eligible to apply for an E-3 visa. The Immigration and Nationality Act defines a specialty occupation as requiring “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.” In addition, the job will also require at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
The E-3 visa typically allows an Australian professional to stay in the U.S. for two years, with indefinite two-year extensions possible. It is a temporary visa.
By all appearances, the E 3 visa has benefited citizens of both U.S. and Australia. According to Australian travel publication Escape, there are as many as 60,000 Australians living in California, with as many as 44,000 living in the greater Los Angeles area. The cultural infusion from down under has led to a host of trendy Australian boutiques and cafes popping up along the West Coast.
Among these businesses is Bondi Harvest Café in Santa Monica, which was founded by Aussies Guy Turland and Mark Alston. Other ventures include West Hollywood eaterie E.P. & L.P. which specializes in Southeastern Asian creations by Australian Executive Chef Louis Tikaram. Non-restaurant businesses include Disrupt, a Santa Monica sports store specializing in custom sports gear, from surf and skateboards, to snowboards and yoga mats. The company was founded in 2014 by Australian Gary Elphick.
Labor Condition Application
Prior to applying for an E3 visa, the Australian professional must first obtain a labor condition application. This is done through the US Department of Labor. This step is designed to ensure that the worker will be paid a prevailing wage for the particular geographic region in which he or she will be working, and that their job won’t adversely affect the jobs of similarly employed U.S. workers. The employer will also attest to the fact there is no strike or lockout occurring on the day the application is filed.
Once labor condition application is approved, the Australian professional can file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129). This is typically done through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once this is approved, the Australian professional can apply for an E-3 visa at a U.S. Embassy or consulate.
In order to qualify for an E-3 visa, an Australian professional will need the following:
- Proof of Australian nationality
- Special license, or evidence of licensure to practice specialty occupation.
- Labor Condition Application
- Letter from employer establishing job offer of specialty occupation
- Academic credential, bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- Other documentation as necessary
If you have questions about your ability to qualify as an Australian professional, contact our office for more information.
Can My Family Join Me on an E-3?
Generally speaking, yes. Spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years old) are eligible for the same E-3 classification. However, while spouses are eligible to work under this status, children are not.
Consulting an Immigration Attorney
Australian professionals are not required to obtain the services of an attorney before applying for an E-3 visa. However, the federal immigration system is vast, and small mistakes in filing can lead to a denial of visa application. A qualified attorney will help you navigate the bureaucracy and avoid costly, or time-consuming mistakes in the process. It’s also important to speak with an immigration attorney to make certain that you are pursuing the best visa for your specific work situation. If you have questions about your eligibility for an E 3 visa, contact our office to learn more.