What is the E-3 Visa?

The E-3 visa allows Australians who work in a specialty occupation to live temporarily in the United States.

Who is Eligible for an E-3 Visa?

To qualify for an E-3 visa, an individual must:

  • Be a national of Australia;
  • Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials;
  • Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
  • Fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.

What Qualifies as a Specialty Occupation Under the E-3 Visa?

A specialty occupation is one that requires a theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher, or its equivalent, in the specific specialty occupation. Occupations such as engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts qualify under the H-1B visa.

In order to qualify as a specialty occupation, the position must meet at least one of the following:

  • The position normally and minimally require a bachelor’s degree or higher for entry into the position;
  • The industry the position is in must commonly require a degree in positions among similar organizations, or alternatively, the job must be performed only by an individual with a degree due to it uniqueness or complexity;
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position;
  • The specified duties of the position are so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is typically associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher

What Credentials are Required for the E-3 Visa?

In order for individuals to perform a specialty occupation under an E-3 visa, they must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher that is required by the specialty occupation from an accredited U.S. university or college;
  • Hold a degree from a foreign university or college that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited U.S. university or college; or
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes the visa applicant to practice the specialty occupation fully and be engaged in that occupation immediately in the U.S. state he or she intends to be employed.

What is the Process to Obtain an E-3 Visa?

The application process for obtaining an E-3 visa is generally straightforward. The steps to apply for an E-3 visa are described below.

Step One: File a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor

To begin the application process, the E-3 visa applicant’s employer must submit a LCA with the Department of Labor by filing Form 9035 through the Department’s FLAG System. An LCA must not be submitted more than 6 months before the employment start date. The FLAG System allows applicants to check the status of their applications at any time.

The Labor Department will review the submitted LCA within seven working days to assess for completeness and any inaccuracies or errors. The FLAG System allows applicants to check the status of their applications at any time.

Once the LCA is certified, the employer may continue to assist the E-3 applicant in obtaining his or her visa.

Step Two: Generally, the applicant must:

  • Submit form DS-160 online along with a photo of the applicant that conforms to the photo requirements to the United States Department of State;
  • Register with the online Yatri system and pay applicable visa fees for the applicant and his or her family members;
  • The E visa application should be emailed to the applicable U.S. Embassy or Consulate with all required documentation included;
  • After the application has been reviewed, the applicant will be prompted to schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country.

Step Three: Attend Visa Interview at Consulate or Embassy

After an applicant has submitted the above documentation and paid all necessary fees, he or she along with any employees, must attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near them.

Prior to the interview, the applicants should compile the following documentation to bring with them to the interview:

Required Documentation:

  • Receipt showing payment of the non-refundable application fees;
  • Completed form DS-156E for both employer and employee applicants;
  • Form G-28 for applicant’s represented by an attorney;
  • Form DS-160 barcode confirmation pages for principal E visa applicant and family members;
  • Additional documentation as required by the Consulate or Embassy.

Applicant Information:

  • Marriage certificate or children’s birth certificates for principal applicants accompanied by family members;
  • Principal applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae;
  • If applicant is an employee and not the business owner, a job letter from the company should be included and should describe:
    • The business;
    • The job the applicant will do and his or her qualifications for the job;
    • Signed statement from applicant vowing to leave the United States upon termination of E visa status;
    • Copies of any changes or extensions of status granted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) via form I-797.

Ownership Verification Information:

  • Evidence that nationals own at least 50% of the business:
    • Articles of incorporation or organization for a United States business;
    • Share certificates and/or operating agreements to verify ownership;
    • For firms with several owners or subsidiaries:
      • Organization chart showing full ownership structure of company;
      • Legal proof of ownership within structure;
      • Color photocopies of passports of each unit holder of the parent company and the percentage of ownership;
      • For firms publicly traded with many shareholders, where none own more than 50%:
        • A written declaration authorized by a corporate official that states the stock exchanges on which the firm has traded;
        • A copy of recently issued trading information reflecting the nationality of the stock’s owners;
        • A chart of ownership of the enterprise and certificate of registration from the state or province in which the company is incorporated, if incorporated outside the United States.

Applicant Information:

  • Detailed cover letter describing how the enterprise and visa applicant qualify for the E-2 visa, including evidence tracing and identifying traded goods and the quantity traded with the United States.

Applying from within the United States

Along with the steps described above, individuals who are applying for an E-3 visa from within the United States must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to adjust their immigration status.

When filing the Form I-129, an applicant must submit the following documents:

  • Academic or other credential showing the applicant’s qualifications for the position they are in;
  • A Labor Condition Application (LCA) that indicates that it has been filed in support of the E-3 classification;
  • A letter showing a job offer from an employer or other documentation evidencing the applicant’s engagement in their specialty occupation and that the applicant will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage;
  • Proof of any license required of the specialty occupation, if applicable

How Long Can an E-2 Visa Holder Stay in the United States?

An E-2 visa holder and his or her eligible employees may live in the United States for an initial stay of up to two years. Extensions may be obtained after the initial two year stay in increments of two years and there is no limit on the amount of extensions granted.

How Much Does it Cost to Obtain an E-2 Visa?

The application fee for an E-2 visa is $205. An issuance fee may also need to be paid one the applicant’s visa is approved, depending on the applicant’s nationality.