The E-3 visa category, similar to the H-1B category, is designated for “specialty occupation” professionals who are citizens or nationals of Australia. While the E-3 visa is very much like the H-1B, there are few distinct differences. Let’s a take a closer look at the E-3 visa category, a great alternative to the H-1B for Australians.
1. E-3 Visa Requirements For Australians
The basic requirements for the E-3 visa category are:
a.You must be a citizen of Australia
b.The position offered to you must be in a specialty occupation, that is, it must require the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge, the attainment of which is generally gained through a bachelor’s degree or higher, or its equivalent, in the specific specialty, as a minimum for entry into the occupation
c.You must have attained a post-secondary bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, involving at least four years of study in your field of specialization
d.You will be employed by a U.S. employer
NOTE: The E-3 visa does not allow you to be self-employed or to be an independent contractor.
DID YOU KNOW?
Like the H-1B, the Immigration and Nationality Act provides an annual cap on the number of E-3 visa. There are 10,500 E-3 visas available per fiscal year for Australian professionals seeking temporary work in “specialty occupations.” Since its inception, the E-3 visa quota has never been exhausted!
2. E3 Application Process
Much like the other treaty-based visas (including the E-1, E-2, TN and H-1B1), the employer does not have to submit a petition to and obtain approval from the United States Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS) before you can apply for an E-3 visa. Your employer does not need to submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS and you don’t need the Notice of Approval, Form I-797, before submitting your visa application. You can apply for the E-3 visa directly at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
You must bring the following documents to your H1B1 visa interview:
a. Certified Form ETA 9035 or 9035E:Labor Conditions Application (LCA), from the U.S. Department of Labor signed by the employer.
b. Visa Application and Visa Fee Receipt: You must submit an online electronic application form, DS-160 Non-Immigrant Visa Electronic Application and pay the appropriate Visa Fee before the interview, and bring the DS-160 Confirmation and Fee Receipt to the interview.
c. Letter of Employment: Job letter from your U.S. employer specifying the details of the temporary position (including job responsibilities, salary and benefits, duration, description of the employing company, qualifications of the applicant, etc.) and confirming the employment offer.
d. Valid Passportn: Your passport must be valid for travel to the United States with a minimum validity of six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
e. Degree Certificate, Education Evaluation and other documents evidencing eligibility for the specialty occupation.
3. Change of Status To E-3 If You Are Already Present In The U.S:
Individuals already in the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status which supports change of status (e.g., Visa Waiver, K-1, etc. do not support a Change of Status), may apply for a change of status to E-3.
To apply for a Change of Status, your employer must file a Form I-129, accompanied by:
a. A Certified form ETA 9035 or 9035E, Labor Conditions Application (LCA), from the U.S. Department of Labor signed by the employer.
b. Letter of Employment: Job letter from your U.S. employer specifying the details of the temporary position (including job responsibilities, salary and benefits, duration, description of the employing company, qualifications of the applicant, etc.) and confirming the employment offer.
c. Degree Certificate, Education Evaluation and any other documents evidencing eligibility for the specialty occupation, and.
d. Evidence that you have lawfully entered the U.S. pursuant to a valid nonimmigrant visa and have maintained status (copy of the visa, I-94 record, etc.).
Procedures for the E-3 visa for Australians are similar to those established for obtaining H-1B1 classification under the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements and the TN for Canadians and Mexicans under NAFTA.
4. Duration And Extension Of Stay On E-3 Visa
E-3 visas are valid for 24 months (2 years) and the validity of the E-3 visa cannot exceed the validity period of the Labor Condition Application (LCA). When entering the U.S., or changing status to E-3 status, you can only be admitted for a two-year period. Unlike the H-1B, the E-3 can be renewed indefinitely along as you can show that you do not intend to live in the U.S. permanently.
DID YOU KNOW?
When E-3 Extension of Stay is timely filed, the beneficiary will have authorization to continue working for 240 days past the expiration of the E-3 status validity date.
5. Spouse And Children of E-3 Visa Holders
The spouse and children under 21 of E-3 visa holders are eligible for derivative E-3 visas (commonly called “E-3D”). An E-3 dependent spouse is eligible to work after obtaining the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. Children are not entitled to work authorization. All E-3 dependents can attend school full-time.
6. E-3 Visa For Australians – Pros and Cons:
a. E-3 visa holders do not need to prior petition approval when obtaining the E-3 visa.
b. The E-3 Cap has never been exhausted, therefore, there has never been an E-3 lottery.
c. E-3 status can be extended indefinitely as there is no 6-year maximum, as with the H1B, as long as the beneficiary can show that he/she does not intend to permanently live in the U.S..
d. The Beneficiary does have authorization to work for 240 days past the I-94 expiration once a timely E-3 extension of stay is filed.
e. Employers filing an I-129 petition for E-3 are exempt from the $500 Fraud Prevention Fee.
a. E-3 visa holders can only be admitted and status can only be extended in two-year increments.
a. Those who intend to commence the immigrant visa process should file for Adjustment of Status before the E-3 needs an extension, or may need to switch to another appropriate visa category, such as the H1B.
The E-3 visa category is a great alternative to the H-1B for qualified professionals from Australia. By being able to avoid the dreaded H-1B Cap and H-1B Lottery, Australian employees can begin working quickly and with minimal delays. The E-3 is also a great option for Australian nationals who have missed out on the H-1B Cap.
Our immigration attorneys have successfully helped nationals of Australia with E-3 visas. If you have any questions regarding the E-3 visa, or need help in applying, Schedule A Free Immigration Consultation Today >>
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