The E-3 visa is a visa category designed for nationals of Australia. The visa category was created after the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) by Congress. In many ways, the E-3 visa is similar to the H-1B visa. However, the E-3 visa allows workers to remain employed in the US with fewer restrictions than other non-immigrant visa categories. As well, the E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely, two years at a time, so it allows Australian citizens to work and live in the US for an extended period of time. The application process for an E-3 visa is also faster than the process for most work visas and E-3 visa applicants are not subject to the number caps that apply to the H-1B visa. Since applicants can apply directly through the US consulate, they may be able to avoid some of the USCIS delays that H-1B applicants face. In addition, under current rules E-3 visa holders can have their spouses and children travel with them to the US, even if those children and spouses are not Australian citizens.
Applying for an E-3 visa is similar to applying for an H-1B visa. First, the employer will need to file for an “Labor Condition Application” (LCA) through the U.S. Department of Labor. When doing this, the employer will need to indicate that the application is for an E-3 visa. Once the employer has an LCA approved, the Australian citizen will then need to visit the US consulate to apply for an E-3 visa. In some cases, the Australian citizen may already be in the US and can get an E-3 visa simply by applying for a change of status – unless the Australian citizen is in the country on an F-1 student visa, a visa waiver program, or another status that does not permit for a change of status application.
Australian professionals can use the E-3 visa to visit and work in the US. In order to immigrate to the US with an E-3 visa, an Australian citizen must have a job offer in place and must be working in an approved specialty occupation. It is expected that an E-3 visa will stay temporarily in the US and has the experience, training, and qualifications needed for the job. In general, the specialty occupations designed for the E-3 visa are those that require at least a bachelor’s degree. Once a visa holder has an E-3 visa, they are expected to work for the employer who sponsored them for their E-3 visa.