E-3 visas or E3 visas are United States visas that are only entitled to Australian citizens. There are a few specialized visa programs designed to apply solely to particular countries’ nationals, and President Bush signed the legislation creating E-3 visas on May 11, 2005. This was made possible through an Act of Congress following tough but amicable negotiations regarding the AUSFTA (Australia - U.S Free Trade Agreement). If you need a leading California immigration attorney to make your immigration journey smooth and seamless, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
In this post, let’s find out who qualifies for an E-3 visa, its benefits, and restrictions, among other factors. We have extensive experience in this field and can bring high professionalism levels to each case, providing customized support to your individual concerns and needs.
What is an E3 or E-3 Visa?
With an E3 visa, Australian professionals can legally enter the U.S and take up professional positions relevant to their areas of expertise. This is an “Australian Specialty Occupation Professional” visa, which means it is only available to a specific set of applicants who can work as professionals within the United States. One of the basic requirements to qualify for the visa is that applicants must have university degrees. They also need to apply specifically for jobs that need degree-level knowledge and skills.
E3 visas offer fantastic opportunities to Australians and business professionals in specific who desire to live and work in the United States. You are eligible for this kind of visa as long as you have relevant qualifications and work experience and have obtained genuine work offers that qualify as “specialty occupation.”
Generally, E3 visas are similar to traditional H1B work visas, although they offer a few added benefits. For instance, obtaining this kind of visa allows your spouse to apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and work within the U.S. Moreover, your unmarried dependent children under 21 years of age can accompany by obtaining an E3-D dependent’s visa. It is also true that the process of getting the required approvals is generally more cost-effective.
Benefits of Applying For an E-3 Visa Instead Of an H-1B
Through an Act of Congress and the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, E3 visas were established in 2005. This type of visa is quite similar to the H-1B, although there are a few notable differences and benefits. They include:
The filing cost for an H-1B visa is, unfortunately, not within reach of many Australians. On the other hand, filing an E3 visa application is pocket friendly for the applicant and costs nothing for potential employers.
Higher Chances of Approval
Compared to H-1B visas, it is easier to get an E3 application approved. Only 85,000 H-1B permits are issued by the U.S annually, and 20,000 of these visas are reserved for applicants with advanced degrees. On the other hand, the U.S issues 10,500 permits that are only applicable to Australian citizens who can meet the specialty occupation requirements.
Because these 10,500 maximum opportunities don’t include E3 renewals or even visa holder spouses working within the United States, only on rare occasions do the number of applicants exceed the available visas. This means you have a good chance of enjoying visa approval as long as you follow through with the set process correctly.
You Can Include Your Spouse and Dependents
Upon approval of your E3 visa, your spouse and kids below 21 years can move with you under an E-3D. If your spouse or dependents need to work, they can submit forms to obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document). A good number of visas don’t include spouses or kids in the deal.
E3 visas typically last for two years maximum. However, they are renewable indefinitely, allowing applicants to extend their stay as long as their employers are willing to sponsor them. Note that while you can extend your stay, this does not make the E3 visa a dual-intent visa. You still need to demonstrate that you have no plans of immigrating to the U.S. permanently.
E-3 “Specialty Occupation” Visa Eligibility Criteria
Specific ground rules apply when seeking to obtain an E-3 classification visa. First, this type of visa is only eligible to Australian nationals who desire to come to the United States to offer services within a specialty occupation. In this case, the specialty occupation needs practical and theoretical applications, meaning an applicant needs specialized knowledge. As a minimum for entry into the country, one needs to have attained a degree or its equivalent in the specific field of specialty.
Some of the things applicants are required to demonstrate include:
- You are of Australian nationality.
- You have managed to obtain legitimate employment offers within the United States.
- You have the relevant qualifying credentials.
- You have what it takes to fill a work position deemed as a specialty occupation.
- You only intend to stay within the United States temporarily.
E3 Visa Requirements
Apart from the eligibility criteria mentioned above, two crucial elements play a significant role in building a successful E3 visa application.
Approved LCA Application
You need a Labor Condition Application to help the Department of Labor in the U.S. establish whether a specific job matches the applicable standards. Fortunately, the turnaround time for an LCA is quick and will not take more than ten days.
Specialized E-3 Job Offer Letter
In California, workers employed to carry out public works projects must receive the prevailing wage dictated by the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. Usually, the prevailing wage is calculated based on the type of work offered and the project’s location. An E3 visa is likely not to be approved if the proposed occupation cannot pay the prevailing wage within a state or County.
What Is A “Specialty Occupation” According To The LCA?
Unfortunately, not every job offering the prevailing wage within a state or County qualifies as a “specialty occupation”—at least not with the labor condition application. For a position to qualify as a “specialty occupation,” it must:
- Be complex enough to require specialized knowledge or rather practical and theoretical application.
- Require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree or higher academic qualifications (an equivalent of these qualifications can suffice)
Your prospective employer has to submit the LCA in support of your visa application. Only after the LCA is approved can you hand over your visa application to your local U.S. consular office. With the help of a California immigration attorney, you can ensure that the entire process is as hassle-free as possible. We have an in-depth understanding of how the process works and will even lend a hand with the necessary paperwork to minimize the risk of unforeseen delays.
Essential Documents Needed For an E3 Visa Application
There are certain forms and documents you are expected to attach in support of your E3 visa application. They include:
Travel document/ Passport
It is crucial to ensure that your travel document/passport is valid for not less than six months after your stay in the U.S. it should also contain one or more blank pages. If your passport is not ready at the time of applying for a visa, this could cause unwarranted delays.
Printed D-160 Confirmation
You also need a printed D-160 confirmation that ought to include your barcode and one 2” by 2”) color photograph of yourself taken within the past six months. Again, any issues with the picture you submit can lead to unnecessary delays with your visa application processing.
Formal Offer of Employment
It is also necessary to attach your job offer letter from your prospective employer based in the United States. This will help establish that you will secure a work position that qualifies as a specialty occupation once you enter the country. It also confirms that the occupation in question will allow you to earn the prevailing wage within the State or County.
The job offer letter must be addressed to you. It must provide information about your nob role and description. Most importantly, it must be signed on the official letterhead of the company that seeks to offer you employment.
Evidence of the Relevant Qualifying Credentials
Attaching certified copies of your academic or qualifying credentials is also necessary. The idea is to satisfy the qualifying credentials requirements by attaching a copy of your degree or its equivalent as demanded by the specialty occupation.
Certified Copies of Any Required Permission to Practice
Depending on the specialty occupation you qualify for, you may need to provide a copy of your practice license or the relevant documents that show permission to practice. In case the position you intend to fill doesn’t require a permit to start working, you should, at the very list have proof that you can obtain the necessary licensure within a reasonable time frame once you settle into the country.
Copy of LCA
As mentioned earlier, one of the essential documents you need is an approved Labor Condition Application filed by your employer. This is Form ETA 9035E, itemized for “E-3 Australia”.
Proof of Nonimmigrant Intent
It is crucial to establish that you only intend to be in the U.S temporarily. You can easily verify this by showing you have ties with Australia and possibly own property, bank accounts or investments in your name. Relationships such as siblings or an aging family back at home can also demonstrate your intent to return to Australia at some point. You could also showcase your history of visiting other countries and still returning to Australia.
The list of documents needed to apply for an E3 visa may vary from one client to another. For instance, applicants with medical conditions may need to attach letters from their physicians that provide detailed information about their state of health. Applications that have been cautioned, arrested, or convicted in the past will, on the other hand, need to attach an ACRO police certificate.
We understand the set requirements and can help you get your paperwork in order. Ultimately, this will help minimize the risk of unwarranted delays. Because visas’ issuance is never guaranteed, we highly recommend starting the application process well in advance.
E-3 Visa Application Process; How to Apply
There are several vital steps you and your prospective U.S. employer must take when applying for an E-3 visa. An essential step is for an applicant to secure a job within the United States that matches the set E3 visa qualifying requirements. After this, the potential employer should send you a formal offer of employment, and the E3 visa application procedure can begin once you accept the offer.
Application Steps for an Employer
Again, there are legal requirements that must be met for a U.S. based employer to hire a foreign national. If you are seeking an Australian national to fill a specialty occupation through an E3 visa, you first need to obtain an LCA (Labor Condition Application) from the DOL (Department of Labor).
The LCA certification proves various factors, including that an employer couldn’t find available or suitable American workers for a specific position. It also shows that employing a foreign national will not harm other U.S. employees’ wages or working conditions. Most importantly, it ensures that the foreign national will receive a prevailing salary, just like any other U.S national that could fill the advertised position.
Filing an LCA is free, and the process takes a maximum of 10 business days. If the application is rejected, an employer can appeal and modify the application if necessary. In case it is approved, an applicant can begin the E3 visa application process.
Application Steps for a Potential Employee (Australian Citizen)
Once a potential employer has obtained an LCA, you can now begin processing your E3 visa. Here are essential steps to follow:
Step 1- File Form DS-160
The file form DS-160 is a vital part of a nonimmigrant visa application. It offers information about an applicant and their intent on visiting the United States. This is what the U.S. Embassy will use to evaluate your case, and a code will be issued once you complete the form and receive a confirmation page.
Step 2- Settle Visa Application Fees
The application fee that applies for E3 visa applications is only $205. Once the payment is settled, you will receive a receipt that will be required later in the process. Because no visa issuance or reciprocity fees are needed, you will not need to settle any other fees.
Step 3- Prepare For the Visa Interview
Applicants between the 13-80 age brackets should schedule visa interviews. Make sure you plan for the interview as soon as possible to avoid possible delays because the U.S. Embassy is often busy dealing with thousands of applications each day. After scheduling the interview, wait for your visa appointment letter.
Step 4- Get Your Documents in Order
In the “Important Documents Needed for an E3 Visa Application” section, we discussed the forms and documents needed during the interview. These are official papers that can drastically strengthen your application and increase your chances of enjoying a quick E3 visa approval.
Step 5- Attend the Interview
During the interview, the U.S. Embassy officials will assess your case and determine the best way forward. Apart from evaluating your job offer letter, qualifications, and previous work experience, they will also scrutinize your character and your intent to return to your home country. It is crucial to demonstrate that you are a stand-up citizen who can be an asset to the United States and that you have all intentions of returning to Australia after you complete your work.
E3 Visa Processing Time and Cost
Once you complete your E3 visa application, submit it to the U.S. Embassy, and even complete the interview, your case will be reviewed, and the decision sent to you in about two months. Note that applications could take longer to be approved or rejected if the Embassy is dealing with a significant workload. Generally, you cannot conclude that your application is denied or approved until you receive official communication from the U.S. Embassy.
If the visa is approved, you need to submit your passport for stamping. After this, you can visit the U.S. and start working. Working with an immigration lawyer will ensure that you have maximum chances of finally migrating to the United States with minimal delays.
Compared to H-1B visa applications, which can cost anywhere between $1,710 and $8,000, applying for an E-3 visa is inexpensive. The initial application fee is only $205, which is incurred by the applicant. You may also need to settle a $410 fee when submitting the I-765 to get a work permit. Other expenses may also be incurred if you want to obtain an EAD for your spouse or dependent to work in the U.S.
How Long Is My E3 Visa Valid?
The Department of labor is responsible for issuing the LCA to employers who want to hire foreign nationalities. With the LCA comes a specified validity which will match your visa’s validity. This means that an LCA valid for half a year indicates that your visa will also be usable for half a year. Typically, the E-3 visa bears a validity of 2 years maximum.
Renewal of the E3 Visa (E3R) and Change Of Status
Unlike a decent number of visas, renewal of the E-3 visa can be open-ended. While the initial visa is often valid for the same validity period as the LCA or for a maximum of 24 months, you can apply for a renewal using the I-129 form.
It is also crucial to note that as an E3 holder, you are allowed to change employers as long as new employers meet the basic requirements of hiring Australian nationals through specialty occupation standards.
Compared to renewing the visa, switching from one employer to another one is relatively more straightforward. In this case, returning to your home country or scheduling another interview with the U.S. Embassy will not be necessary. Your new employer ought to file an LCA and obtain an I-129 petition approved for you to begin working in the new company. Ensure you can begin working in the new company in 10 days or less to avoid jeopardizing your visa status. If you want to change work positions within the same company, this same process must be followed.
Changing status or renewing an E3 visa in the U.S. may take between 2 and 3 months. By working with a skilled California immigration attorney, you can increase the odds of enjoying a quick and seamless process. We can help ensure that your paperwork is correctly filed to avoid any unforeseen delays. Remember that even minor blunders such as incorrect submission of the DS-160 form may make it necessary for you to resubmit a new form. This process can be both confusing and time-intensive. Our job is to provide the guidance you need to dodge possible pitfalls.
Compelling Reasons to Seek Our Expertise
E3 visas offer a win-win bargain for Australia and the U.S. While the United States gets to benefit from the pool of qualified Australian nationals, eligible Australians benefit from excellent opportunities to tap into different industries within the country and enhance or advance their careers. We understand the laws and requirements that apply during each application process and will ensure you have the smoothest possible experience.
Our approval rate for both E3 visa applications and E3R renewal visas earns us some serious bragging rights. We offer cost-effective services and ensure that each of our clients deals with an in-house lawyer directly. By giving each case our full dedication, we can achieve stellar results, even when dealing with clients with different needs and goals.
Here’s the deal, while applying for an E3 is cheaper and less demanding, only 10,500 E3 visas maximum are issued each year. We will offer you a solid visa strategy to increase your chances of not getting locked out of lucrative opportunities.
Find a California Immigration Attorney Near Me
U.S. immigration laws are complex. Merely because you qualify for a visa doesn’t mean the process of obtaining one will be as smooth as imagined. Once you have established the kind of visa you need, you must also ensure that you meet the preset requirements for the visa you are applying for. With the best California immigration attorney, you can focus on your immigration journey as we handle the nitty-gritty details on your behalf. Our integrity and expertise have earned us a stellar reputation among our clients who can vouch for our inflexible ethics that instill trust and confidence, even when dealing with multinationals. For more info about E-3 visas and other immigration services contact us on 424-789-8809 to schedule an appointment.