The E-3 visa is a temporary worker’s visa for certain specialty occupation professionals who are Australian nationals. The Australian national must be entering the United States for the sole purpose of performing the employment within the specific occupation. The specialty occupation must require at least a bachelor’s degree and a depth of knowledge and practical experience based on the occupation. To qualify for this temporary work visa, you must show that:
- You are a national of Australia
- You have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States
- You have the required academic or other qualifying credentials
- You will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation
To apply as a professional within a specialty occupation, your employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant worker and provide credible evidentiary documentation that you meet the criteria. Such evidence includes:
- A Labor Condition Application (LCA): This is not the same as the Labor Certification which is associated with the employment-based green card. The LCA is a form that is usually related to an H-1B petition (another type of worker’s visa) filed by an employer. However, the USCIS uses the LCA in this E-3 process as well. In the form, the employer guarantees that the wages to the E-3 employee will be no less than a similarly situated U.S. worker and that the working conditions will be no different than U.S. worker. Such a guarantee is put in place to protect U.S. workers and avoid their displacement. While the Labor certification can be a long process, taking months to years to be approved by the Department of Labor. The LCA requires a much shorter preparation time. Once prepared, the LCA must be posted at the employer’s location and worksite for 10 business days. The DOL takes a few days to process it.
- Academic or other credentials demonstrating qualifications for the position: Such evidence of credentials include but are not limited to official school transcripts, job letters from previous employers describing your work experience and applicability of knowledge from your specialty occupation, copies of degree certificate, membership in any associated professional organizations or associations, and proof of the license you hold in your specialty occupation
- Job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that you will be engaged in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage
The process depends on where you are. The E-3 visa process has different steps, which are laid out briefly below.
Labor Condition Application
Generally, the employer must have the approved LCA from the Department of Labor (DOL) and then file it with I-129 Petition. The application requires the employer’s attestation that the employer will follow certain labor requirements which are:
- The employer will pay a wage that is no less than the wage paid to similarly situated and qualified U.S. workers. If the wage is more than the similar U.S. worker then the employer must show that the wage is the prevailing wage for the geographic area; and
- Working conditions will not adversely affect other similarly situated U.S. workers. Also, there must be no strikes during the LCA process. The employer must notify the union and other workers about the filing of the LCA by posting at the work site.
Applying Within the United States
If you are located in the United States, the employer can submit the Form I-129 to change your status in the United States. The employer would attach the evidence to the petition and it would then be processed by the USCIS. The USCIS would make a decision on the application and send the decision notice to the employer. During the process, you and the employer should be on the lookout for any requests for more evidence, called RFEs. Failure to respond to these may cause a delay or denial of your application.
Before applying for this visa through this process, you should make sure there are no problematic issues. Each of the pieces of this process can get complicated. If you miss something or make mistakes, it could mean a delayed process or even a denial. It is important to tread carefully and be meticulous through this process.
Applying at the Embassy
If you are outside of the United States, and the USCIS approves the petition, you will apply to the embassy in your country for the non-immigrant E-3 visa. The employer would need to forward the approval notice to you and then you would need to follow embassy instructions to apply for the non-immigrant visa. The embassy in your home country schedules the visa interview The officer will review all documentation and your application at the interview and inform you of the decision at the interview.
If approved for the E-3 visa, you’ll get a period of 2 years to stay in the United States to work, with no limits on extensions. You are permitted to take your spouse and child(ren) with you to the United States as well.
When considering whether to go through with this type of visa application, it is important to take other circumstances and factors into consideration. Failing to do this may cause complications during the application process. For instance, any facts that involve previous denials, past immigration, and criminal violations, previous marriages that involved filings, entry with other types of visas, tax issues, visa overstays, and previous employment in the United States can be just as important as the basic eligibility criteria. A single criminal violation, whether a misdemeanor or more serious, can lead you to be inadmissible to the United States, which may require additional steps to getting the visa, such as a waiver.
It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with your case. An attorney will assist with applying for the LCA, preparing the petition, assist with gathering evidence, and advocate vigorously for you during the process. Here at ST Law Office, I have dedicated my practice solely to immigration matters. I vigorously advocate no matter how simple or complicated the matter. Don’t hesitate to call us at 561-405-4889 or to schedule your initial phone, online or in-person consultation now.