Most Frequestly Asked Questions On E-3 Visas
What is an E-3 Visa?
The E-3 is a new visa category only for Australians going to the U.S. to work temporarily in a specialty occupation.
Who qualifies for the E-3 visa?
The new E-3 visa classification currently applies only to nationals of Australia as well as their spouses and children. E-3 principal applicants must be going to the United States solely to work in a specialty occupation. The spouse and children need not be Australian citizens. However the U.S. does not recognize De Facto relationships or same-sex Civil Partnerships for the purposes of immigration, and to qualify as a spouse you will need a marriage certificate from the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
I am a permanent resident of Australia but don’t have citizenship. Can I apply for an E-3 visa?
No. E-3 visas are only available for Australian nationals. If you are a new Australian citizen or are in the process of becoming one, please note that you will need to possess an Australian passport by the time of your visa interview.
New Is there an upper age limit for applicants?
No, there is no upper age limit.
Do I have to find a job in the U.S. first before applying for an E-3 visa?
Yes. You need to have a job offer from the U.S. before you can apply for the E-3 visa.
Can I go to the U.S. to find a job and then apply for the E-3 visa from there?
No. You cannot apply for an E-3 visa from within the U.S.
Can I travel to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program to find a job or attend interviews and then apply for the E-3 visa once I return to Australia?
Yes, you can travel on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if you meet the requirements (please see our page on the Visa Waiver Program). If you do not meet the VWP requirements, you may be eligible to travel on the B-1/B-2 Combined Visa for Business or Pleasure.
You must leave the U.S. before applying for your E-3 visa.
New Can I apply for an E-3 visa from outside Australia?
Yes. You can apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate which processes non-immigrant petition-based visas, but you cannot apply from within the U.S.
A list of U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide can be found on usembassy.state.gov.
A guide to interview wait times and visa processing times worldwide can be found on travel.state.gov.
However, please contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply to check that they accept applications from non-residents, and for details of how to book an interview and current processing times, as these will vary from post to post. Some posts outside of Australia are not as familiar with the E3 visa and may be unfamiliar with adjudication of such visas. They are also unfamiliar with Australian education institutions, and so proving eligibility may be more difficult.
Can I apply at any U.S. Consulate in Australia?
Yes. You may apply in Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth
What is a specialty occupation?
The definition of “specialty occupation” is one that requires:
- A theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge; and
- The attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
In determining whether an occupation qualifies as a “specialty occupation,” follow the definition contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 214 (i)(1) for H-1B non-immigrants and applicable standards and criteria determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Please see www.uscis.gov.
Although there is no definitive list of occupations eligible for the E3 visa, a useful general guide for applicants to check if their occupation might be considered a graduate specialty profession and thus might be eligible for an E3 visa, is the Occupational Information Network website O*NET Online.
I have a degree and have found a job in a related profession in the U.S. Do I qualify for the E-3 visa?
Only if the job you plan to work in actually requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specialty occupation. It is not enough that an E-3 applicant holds a particular degree; the job itself must also require a bachelor-level or higher qualification. For example, someone with a degree in Business Studies planning to work as a Personal Assistant would not be eligible for the E-3 unless the job actually required a bachelor-level qualification.
I am a skilled tradesperson with qualifications and experience in plumbing/electrical work/carpentry for example. Do these kind of trades qualify as specialty occupations for the E-3 visa?
Not generally, because a requirement of the E-3 visa is that the job in the U.S. requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specialty occupation. As very few trade positions require a degree, they are not appropriate for E-3 visa employment.
Do I need a license for a specialty occupation?
An E-3 alien must meet academic and occupational requirements, including licensure where appropriate, for admission into the United States in a specialty occupation. If the job requires licensure or other official permission to perform the specialty occupation, the applicant must submit proof of the requisite license or permission before the E-3 visa may be granted. In certain cases where such a license or other official permission is not immediately required to perform the duties described in the visa application, the alien must show that he or she will obtain such licensure within a reasonable period of time following admission to the United States.
Do I need a petition by my employer to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?
No, the United States-based employer of an E-3 principal is not required to submit a petition to the Department of Homeland Security as a prerequisite for visa issuance. However, the employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA), ETA Form 9035 or ETA Form 9035E, from the Department of Labor.
How long is the visa valid?
The validity of the visa should not exceed the validity period of the LCA. The Department of State and DHS have agreed to a 24-month maximum validity period for E-3 visas. This validity may be renewed.
What is the fee for an E-3 visa?
Other than the normal non-refundable worldwide visa application fee, there is no special fee for an E-3 visa. For further information, please see our fee information page.
Is there a limit to the number of E-3 visas?
Yes, there will be a maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas issued annually during each fiscal year, which runs from October 1st to September 30. We will advise on the website when the quota has been reached, it has not yet been reached for the U.S. fiscal year ending 30 September 2007. Spouses and children of applicants do not count against the quota, neither do applicants extending their E3 visas whilst still in the U.S. and working for the same employer.
Do applicants need to demonstrate a “residence abroad?”
E-3 status provides for entry on a non-permanent basis into the United States. Similar to E-1 and E-2 visa applicants, the E-3 must satisfy the consular officer that s/he intends to depart upon termination of status.
How do I demonstrate that I qualify for an E-3D (dependent) visa?
You must demonstrate to the consular officer that the established relationship exists. Usually this can be accomplished with a marriage certificate for spouses or a birth certificate for dependent children. Please note that the U.S. does not recognize De Facto relationships or same-sex Civil Partnerships, and to qualify as a spouse you will need a marriage certificate from the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. You must also show that the principal applicant is the recipient of an E-3 visa.
What is the process to apply for an E-3D (dependent) visa?
The dependent must make a separate visa application, which involves most of the same steps as the principal applicant’s application, namely completing the required forms, paying the application fee, and scheduling a visa interview with a U.S. consular officer. Further details can be found on our page on how to apply.
The dependent does not need to provide the principal applicant’s Labor Condition Application (LCA) or evidence of employment, but needs to show that the principal applicant is the recipient of an E-3 visa by providing a copy of the visa or, if the applicant has obtained E-3 status in the U.S., the I-797 Approval Notice. The dependent can apply and arrange a visa interview at the same time as the principal applicant, or can apply and be interviewed later, once the principal applicant’s E-3 visa is issued. The principal applicant does not need to be present at the dependent’s interview. Each dependent must make a separate visa application, but children under 14 who are Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia are not usually required to attend an interview.
May spouses work?
E-3 spouses are entitled to work in the United States and may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765) through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The spouse of a qualified E non-immigrant may, upon admission to the United States, apply with the Department of Homeland Security for an employment authorization document, which an employer could use to verify the spouse’s employment eligibility. Such spousal employment may be in a position other than a specialty occupation. Please note however that the U.S. does not recognize De Facto relationships or same-sex Civil Partnerships for the purposes of immigration, and to qualify as a spouse you will need a marriage certificate from the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
How long is the E-3 visa valid?
The validity of the visa should not exceed the validity period of the LCA. The Department and DHS have agreed to a 24-month maximum validity period for E-3 visas.
If I get an E-3 visa, how long before I start my job can I enter the U.S.?
You can enter the U.S. 10 days before you start your job.
How long can I stay in the U.S. after I finish my job?
You can stay 10 days after you finish your job.
Can I travel outside the U.S. while on my E-3 visa?
An E-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa, so provided you have not changed employers or made any other changes to your immigration status, you may travel outside the U.S. and reenter on a valid, unexpired E-3 visa.
If you change your employer while you are outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a new E-3 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas. You can apply for a new E-3 visa at most U.S. Embassies or Consulates worldwide.
A guide to wait times for interviews and visa processing times at all posts worldwide.
Please contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you plan to apply to confirm that they accept applications from non-residents, and for details of how to book an interview and current processing times, as these will vary from post to post. You will need to have a visa interview, complete a new DS-160 application form, pay a new application fee and present the same supporting documents as you did for your original application (including your job offer, LCA, and educational certificates).
If you are visiting Australia and plan to apply for your new E-3 visa there, please see details of how to apply.
How long can I stay out of the U.S. if I have an E-3 visa?
There is no limit to how long you can stay outside the U.S. or how many times you can travel outside the U.S. during the validity of your E-3 visa.
Can I renew the E-3 visa? Is there a limit to the amount of times I can renew?
E-3 applicants are admitted for a two-year period renewable indefinitely, provided the alien is able to demonstrate that he/she does not intend to remain or work permanently in the U.S.
Can I change employers once I am in the U.S. and stay on the E-3 visa?
Yes, your new employer must lodge a new Labor Condition Application (LCA), and the gap between jobs must be 10 days or less.
I am already in the U.S. on an E-3 visa and want to change employers. Do I need to come back to Australia for another interview?
You do not need to have another interview or make a new visa application to change employers while you are in the U.S. on an E-3 visa. However, you must complete a transfer process through the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) in the U.S.
Please direct any inquiries about the transfer process to USCIS, as once you are in the U.S. you are responsible for maintaining the correct immigration status with USCIS. Please see USCIS’s website at www.uscis.gov or contact their National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283.
I am already in the U.S. on a different category of visa and want to change to an E-3 visa. What should I do?
Please direct any inquiries to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS), as once you are in the U.S. you are responsible for maintaining the correct immigration status with USCIS. Please see their website at www.uscis.gov or contact USCIS’s National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283.
New How do I apply for an E-3 visa?
You may make your appointment for an interview as soon as you have all the documents prepared. You do not need to send your documents in advance, just take them to the interview. There is no specific application form, applicants for all non-immigrant visas must complete the same standard application form known as the DS-160.
If applying in Australia please see our website for further details, and for links to the online visa appointment website Visapoint, and to the DS-156 application form, see our page on how to apply.
If applying outside Australia, please find a list of U.S. Consulates and Embassies overseas.
A guide to wait times for interviews and visa processing times at all posts worldwide.
New How long does it take to apply?
The wait times for interview at each Consulate vary, you can check the latest timeframe for interviews in Australia on the Visapoint website whilst making an appointment.
In Australia, if an E-3 visa is approved at interview, it is normally issued within 2-3 business days. Visas and passports are returned by mail, so please also allow time for this. Applicants should bring a self-addressed registered or express post envelope to the interview. Please see our website for further details on how to apply in Australia.
If applying outside Australia, please see the FAQ above for a link to interview wait times and processing times worldwide.
What requirements and documentary evidence are needed for the application?
Submit a job offer letter from the prospective United States-based employer. A treaty alien (i.e. the Australian applicant) in a specialty occupation must meet the general academic and occupational requirements for the position pursuant to Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 214(i)(1) (please see www.uscis.gov).
In addition to the Electronic Visa Application Form DS-160, completed online (http://ceac.state.gov/genniv/) and print out the confirmation bar code page and bring it with you to your interview along with the following documentary evidence must be submitted for an application for an E-3 visa:
Form ETA 9035, clearly annotated as “E-3 - Australia - to be processed,” or an ETA 9035E dated after January 4th, 2006, specified for E-3 Australia. Now either form is acceptable. This is the notification of an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) that the U.S. employer obtains from the Department of Labor. You cannot book an interview appointment until you have received this form.
Evidence of academic or other qualifying credentials as required under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 214(i)(1) (see weblink above), and a job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that upon entry into the United States the applicant will be engaged in qualifying work in a specialty occupation and that the alien will be paid the actual or prevailing wage referred to in INA 212(t)(1) (www.uscis.gov)
If your degree and higher-level qualifications are from an Australian institution, you do not usually need to provide certified copies or evidence of their U.S. equivalent, but please bring to your visa interview the original certificates, and if possible, transcripts for the course of study. If your qualification(s) are not from an Australian institution, a certified copy of the foreign degree and evidence that it is equivalent to the required U.S. degree could be used to satisfy the “qualifying credentials” requirement, but you may prefer to wait until your visa interview to confirm whether this is necessary. You should take your original certificates and transcripts to your visa interview, and if it is also necessary to produce certified copies of certificates and evidence of U.S. equivalence, you can send these to the Consulate after the interview, although your visa will not be approved until this is received. Likewise, a certified copy of a U.S. baccalaureate or higher degree, as required by the specialty occupation, would meet the minimum evidentiary standard.
In the absence of an academic or other qualifying credential(s), evidence of education and experience that is equivalent to the required U.S. degree.
Evidence establishing that the applicant’s stay in the United States will be temporary.
A certified copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment if so required or, where licensure is not necessary to commence immediately the intended specialty occupation employment upon admission, evidence that the alien will be obtaining the required license within a reasonable time after admission.
Evidence of payment of the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee, also known as the application fee. This is payable at Australia Post, and applicants should bring the post office receipt to the interview as evidence of payment.
I do not hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Can I apply for the E-3 visa based on my work experience?
U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(D), describes the kind and amount of experience which can be used to establish the equivalency of a university degree. As a guide, three years of professional experience may generally be used as a substitute for each year of university-level education. During their visa interviews, applicants for U.S. work visas should be prepared to provide documentation outlining their work history, education, and training. A consular officer will determine whether the educational and employment information provided meets the eligibility requirements for a U.S. visa.