E-3 Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia


The E-3 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa exclusively reserved for Australian professionals seeking to work in the United States in a specialty occupation. This classification essentially mirrors the H-1B visa category but comes with distinct advantages for Australian nationals. Perhaps the most significant benefit compared to the H-1B visa , which generally requires an annual lottery to determine who can apply for limited capped visas, is that the E-3 visa does not require a lottery.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the E-3 visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Australian Citizenship: Only Australian citizens are eligible for the E-3 visa.
  • Specialty Occupation: The applicant must be entering the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is a job which ordinarily requires at minimum a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent foreign education or work experience (i.e. 3 years of work can equate to 1 year of higher education) in a specific field. Using the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) , search for the occupation which equates to the job by comparing the actual job duties to the Tasks listed for each occupation, and then review the “Education” to determine if the occupation ordinarily requires a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Job Offer: An offer of employment from a U.S. employer is a prerequisite for obtaining the E-3 visa. Self-employment is not permitted, so an employer/employee relationship must be established through control, which also commonly means employee ownership of 50% or greater is scrutinized.
  • DOL Requirements: The employer must also file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and meet Notice of Filing and other Public Access File requirements. The employee must be paid the prevailing wage which is based upon the area of intended employment, occupational classification, and wage level (i.e. entry level or more advanced). Prevailing wages may be found in the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center.


Application Process

  1. Job Offer and LCA – A U.S. employer must offer a qualifying job to the Australian citizen and submit an LCA to the DOL for certification. The LCA attests that the employment conditions meet the prevailing wage requirements discussed above. A Notice of Filing and other Public Access File requirements must be met, with which an experienced business immigration attorney can assist.
  2. If the prospective employee is in the United States and does not wish to travel internationally, the employer can file a Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with the certified LCA and required evidence with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The approval issued by USCIS does not generally permit international travel without abandonment of the approval, with limited exceptions.
  3. If the prospective employee can travel internationally, applying with the certified LCA and required evidence for an H-1B1 visa directly with a U.S. Consulate in a country of residence or citizenship is more common. This is another benefit to the E-3 for Chilean and Singaporean citizens relative to the H-1B visa, which requires a USCIS approval before applying for a visa at a U.S. Consulate.

Validity and Extensions

The initial validity of the E-3 visa is two (2) years, with the possibility of extensions in two-year increments indefinitely without limitation. Comparatively, the H-1B visa may be approved in three-year increments up to a general maximum of six years.

Spouse and Unmarried Children under 21

E-3 visa holders can bring their spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age to the U.S. These dependents can apply for E-3D visas with proof of relationship to the E-3 visa applicant and can attend school but are not authorized to work in the U.S.

Green Card Pathway?

E-3 visa holders often pursue permanent residency through a PERM Labor Certification based immigrant petition by a U.S. employer under the EB-2 or EB-3 immigrant preference categories.

The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.