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The E-3 visa is an employment authorization and a unique and highly sought-after opportunity for Australian professionals to live and work in the United States. Created under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) in 2005, the E-3 visa is exclusively available to Australian citizens.
It provides a much-needed pathway for skilled Australian citizen professionals to pursue their careers in the U.S. If you are considering applying for an E-3 visa, it’s essential to understand its eligibility requirements, the application process, benefits, and the impact it has on Australian professionals.
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Understanding the E-3 Visa and the Theoretical and Practical Application Requirement
The E-3 visa is specifically designed for Australian nationals who want to seek temporary employment in a specialty occupation within the United States. Under U.S. immigration laws, a specialty occupation is defined as a position that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge. The applicant must also have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific field.
To be eligible for the E-3 visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Australian Citizenship: Applicants must be Australian citizens, either living in Australia or another country and seeking temporary employment in the U.S.
- Job Offer: Individuals must have a legitimate job offer from a U.S. employer for their specialty occupation.
- Qualifications: Applicants must possess the necessary qualifications relevant to the specialty occupation, including a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Labor Condition Application (LCA): The U.S. employer must file a certified LCA with the U.S. Department of Labor, attesting to the terms and conditions of employment, which should also detail the applicant’s wages and working conditions.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Intent: Applicants must demonstrate their intent to return to Australia upon the expiration of the E-3 status.
It should also be noted that if U.S. laws require, applicants must have the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation before beginning employment in the specialty occupation.
If you haven’t yet received your U.S. license, you must provide a guarantee that you will apply for the required license shortly after admission to the United States.
The Application Process and Employment Authorization
The application process for an E3 Visa is less arduous than some other visas. First, the U.S. employer submits a job offer letter and files a Labor Condition Application with the U.S. Department of Labor. Next, the applicant must complete Form DS-160 online and pay the required visa application fee.
Applicants then schedule a visa interview at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. They must attend the interview with the required documents, including:
- Their applicable job offer letter
- Educational qualifications
- Other supporting materials
What is the Labor Condition Application?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) require that employers complete a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to ensure that the employment of H-1B/E-3 visa holders doesn’t negatively impact the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. It’s required by the Immigration Act of 1990.
By signing and submitting the completed LCA, the employer attest that:
- Employment of the E3 applicant won’t negatively impact the wages and working conditions of workers similarly employed in the area of the applicant’s intended employment.
- They will pay the noncitizen the higher of the actual or prevailing wage for the occupational classification in the area of the applicant’s intended employment.
- They will notify employees that they are filing the LCA
- There is currently no strike, lockout, or work stoppage related to a labor dispute in the occupation the E3 applicant is applying for
Required Educational Supporting Documents
If you attended a college in some place other than Australia or the United States, you must submit documentation showing that your degree is equivalent to an American bachelor’s degree or higher.
Suppose you didn’t go to or graduate from college at all. In that case, you can still apply; however, you must show evidence that your work experience is equivalent to the U.S. degree required by your new position.
You are allowed to change employers while remaining in the U.S. To do this, your new employer must obtain a certified Labor Condition Application for the position in which you will be employed and properly file a Form I-129 petition. The Form I-129 petition must be approved before you have formal approval to work for the new employer.
USCIS may let you maintain your E-3 status, following cessation of employment, for up to 60 days during the period of petition validity (or another authorized validity period).
Benefits of an E-3 Visa for the Australian Citizen
The E3 Visa for Australian professionals has many benefits, including:
- Specialized Work Opportunities: The E-3 visa provides Australian professionals access to a wide range of specialized work opportunities in the U.S., including roles in engineering, healthcare, finance, I.T., and more.
- Family Accompaniment: E-3 visa holders can bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the U.S. on an E-3D dependent visa. Dependents can also apply for work authorization in the U.S. and attend school in the U.S. In addition, the applicant’s spouse and children aren’t required to be Australian citizens.
- Renewable: The E-3 visa is renewable in two-year increments, with no maximum number of renewals. This allows professionals to continue working in the U.S. as long as they maintain their eligibility. Your E-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa, so if you decided to leave the United States and return within the time period stipulated by your visa, your visa would still be valid. However, if your visa expires while you are outside of the U.S., you will need to return to Australia and re-apply for a new E-3 visa.
- Dual Intent: Unlike many other nonimmigrant visas, the E-3 visa allows for dual intent, meaning applicants can simultaneously seek permanent residency (Green Card) while legally maintaining their E-3 status.
- Quick Processing: The E-3 visa application process is generally faster than other work visas.
- No Limits: Unlike some other visas, there is no annual cap on the number of E-3 visas that U.S. immigration officials can issue.
Impact on Australian Professionals
The E-3 visa has significantly impacted Australian professionals seeking opportunities in the United States. It has allowed skilled workers to contribute their expertise to various industries, enhancing innovation and productivity. Australian professionals, including engineers, healthcare practitioners, educators, and I.T. specialists, have filled vital roles in U.S. companies and institutions, driving economic growth and cultural exchange.
Furthermore, the E-3 visa has fostered closer ties between the United States and Australia by facilitating the exchange of knowledge and skills. It has allowed Australians to share their expertise while gaining valuable experience in the U.S., ultimately benefiting both nations’ economies and strengthening their bilateral relationship and impact on the globe.
E3 Visa Challenges and Considerations
While the E-3 visa offers numerous benefits, applicants should be aware of potential challenges and considerations with this type of employment authorization:
- Competitive Selection: Since the E-3 visa is only available to Australian citizens, it can be highly competitive, especially for roles in high-demand industries.
- Temporary Nature: The E-3 visa is a temporary work visa, and applicants must demonstrate their intent to return to Australia upon visa expiration. Individuals seeking long-term or permanent residency may need to explore other visa options so that they can remain in the U.S. longer.
- Employer Sponsorship: E-3 visa applicants require a job offer from a U.S. employer. Securing suitable employment is a critical step in the application process. Without employment or a job offer, their application will be denied.
The E-3 visa is the ideal visa and employment authorization for many degree-holding Australians.
Yet, it can be confusing to figure out where to begin. This is why many e3 visa applicants enlist the help of a seasoned immigration attorney to help them navigate the process and ensure they meet all the requirements.
The E-3 visa offers Australian professionals a unique opportunity to pursue their careers in the United States through employment authorization while contributing their expertise to various industries and fostering cross-cultural exchange. Its creation under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement reflects the strong partnership between the two nations and has led to mutually beneficial outcomes. As Australian professionals continue to seize the opportunities provided by the E-3 visa, they play an integral role in shaping the future of both countries and enriching the global workforce.
Need Help with E-3? Call TZG Law Today
TZG Law is here to provide professional guidance and support in navigating the complexities of immigration law. With our team of experienced immigration attorneys, we specialize in various areas of immigration, including E-3, employment visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and more. Whatever your immigration needs may be, we have the knowledge and skills to assist you.
Take action today! Contact TZG Law at 385-396-4599 or click here to schedule your initial consultation with Tina. Let us be your trusted partner on your immigration journey.