E3 Visa For Australians:

The Best Way To Get It Quickly


E3 visa allows Australian Citizens to accept employment in the U.S. under specialty occupations.

Unlike most other work visa categories, the E3 does not require a prior petition approval from USCIS. Qualifying applicants can directly apply for the E3 visa at a U.S. Consulate.

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E3 Visa For Australians: An Effective H1B Alternative

The E3 visa provides an effective alternative to the H1B annual cap for Australian nationls because the standards for the job offer are essentially the same. The E3 visa allows Austrailians to secure a U.S. work visa year-round, even when the H1B annaul cap is exhausted.

For the benefit of employers and applicants, we present here the key features of the E3 US work visa for Australian citizen, and how it is an effective H1B alternative.

1. E3 Visa Requirements

To qualify for an E3 visa you must demonstrate that:

a.You have an offer of employment in the U.S.

b.You are an Australian citizen

c.The position you are coming to fill qualifies as ‘specialty occupation’

d.You have the necessary academic or other qualifying experience

e.Your stay will be temporary

The Immigration and Nationality Act defines ‘specialty occupation’ to be an occupation that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, the attainment of which usually requires a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation.

2. E3 Visa For Australian Citizens: The Application Process

Generally, applicants make the initial application for an E3 visa at a U.S. consulate outside the US. Previous approval from USCIS is not required.

You must carry the following documents to your US E3 visa interview:

a. Letter of Employment: A 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.

b. Certified form ETA 9035 from the U.S. Department of Labor, which is provided by the employer.

c. Valid Passport: 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.

d. E3 Visa Application: You must submit the DS-160 Non-Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, online before the appointment.
NOTE: You will simply need to print out the confirmation page containing the bar code and bring this page to the visa interview. It is not necessary to provide a printed application form to the Consular Officer during the visa interview.

e. Application Fee: You must follow the directions provided by the individual U.S. Consulate regarding payment of the application fee.

3. E3 Visa And Dual Intent:

Under the current E3 visa regulations, an alien classified as an E3 nonimmigrant must have an intent to depart the U.S. upon the expiration of his or her E3 status. The E3 visa does not support dual intent. You have to prove that you do not intend to immigrate to the United States.

It should be noted that there is an E3 annual cap or ‘quota’. Under the law a maximum of 10,500 E3 visas can be issued annually during each fiscal year (October 1st to September 30). Since the creation of the E3 visa category, however, the quota has never been exhausted.

4. Change of Status To E3 Visa If You Are Already Inside The U.S.:

If you are already legally in the U.S. in another visa status (not on the VWP), your employer may request a change of status to E3, or extend your existing E3 status, by filing a Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) with the USCIS Vermont Service Center.

Applying for the change of status can take up to 3-4 months whereas applying for an E3 from the U.S. consulate generally takes only a week. Thus it is usually faster to apply for your E3 visa at the U.S. consulate abroad than applying for a change of status in the U.S.

You can travel to the US on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to find a job or attend interviews but you cannot apply for change of status to E3 visa while in the U.S. under the VWP.

You may only enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for short trips (maximum of 90 days) for business or pleasure.

5. E3 Visas: Duration And Extension of Stay

E3 Specialty Occupation Workers may be admitted initially for a period not to exceed the validity period of the accompanying E3 labor condition application but cannot be longer than 24 months.

There is, however, no limit on the total length of time an Australian citizen may stay in the US in E3 status. Your E3 visa status can be renewed indefinitely.

If you wish to extend your E3 stay in the US in a specialty occupation that requires a license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation, you must submit a copy of the license or proof of other official permission to practice the occupation in the jurisdiction of intended employment.

6. Dependents of E3 Visa Holders:

The spouse and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) of an E3 visa nonimmigrant may accompany the principal to the U.S.

Additionally, your spouse and children do not need to be Australian citizens. It is only the principal applicant who must meet the Australian citizenship requirement. The spouse and children are not counted against the 10,500 annual limit.

An E3 spouse is eligible to work in the U.S. but must apply for specific work authorization (EAD). The work performed by the spouse of an E3 visa holder does not have to meet any particular requirements.

Additionally, your spouse and children do not need to be Australian citizens. It is only the principal applicant who must meet the Australian citizenship requirement. The spouse and children are not counted against the 10,500 annual limit.

E3 Visa vs H1B Visa: The Pros

In addition to circumventing the H1B cap and the benefits that flow to the spouse of the E3 visa holder, there are several other features of the E3 that make it a better choice. One of the benefits of the E3 is that you do not need a petition approved by the USCIS prior to applying for an E3 visa stamp at a US consulate. This step alone saves a substantial amount of time and filing fee.

Other examples of how the E3 is better than the H1B are below:

The H1B Quota Challenges

The E3 visa applicants do not have to worry about the H1B quota and having to file ‘at the right time’ and/or worry about getting selected in the H1B lottery. Additionally, those who do try to apply for an H1B in the H1B cap have the E3 visa as a back-up option.

Overcoming The J1 Visa 2-year Home Residency Requirement

J1 visa holders who are subject to the §212(e) 2-year home residency requirement can apply for and obtain an E3 visa without first obtaining a J-1 waiver or spending 2 years outside the United States. Those applying for the H1B visa (or L1 or a green card) must satisfy the 2-year requirement or obtain a J1 waiver before they are eligible for the visa or status.

Exhaustion of The 6-year H1B Limit

Australian citizens who have exhausted 6 years of H1B time and are not eligible to extend beyond the 6th year have the option of changing to E3 status so they can continue working and living in the U.S.

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E3 Visa vs H1B Visa: The Cons

Though E3 visa does have many advantages over H1B visa, there are some advantages to be in H1B status as well.

6. No Dual Intent

E3 visa does not support dual intent. An Australian citizen who intends to remain in the U.S. permanently by applying for permanent residency may need to switch to a different visa status such as H1B that supports Dual Intent. Timing of the permanent residence (green card) application and travel must be carefully assessed by an immigration attorney.

Although the E3 visa can be extended indefinitely, the longer you are in E3 status, the harder it may be to obtain extensions as your intent to return to your home country becomes more tenuous. Switching to H1B status may have to be considered under these circumstances.


With E3 visa having many advantages over other classifications of work visas, you must carefully prepare and submit your E3 visa application to ensure the greatest chance of success.

VisaPro immigration attorneys regularly assist employers in securing E3 visas successfully and help Australian citizens come and work in the U.S. We like to help you integrate our success strategies into your E3 application process.

That’s why we’re offering a FREE E3 Visa Filing Consultation.

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