E3 Visa for Australian Professionals
The E-3 visa is similar in many aspects to the H-1B working visa but it applies only to nationals of Australia. The E-3 visa has many of the same characteristics of the H-1B visa with some important differences about length, renewal, spousal working ability, and dual intent with Permanent Residency. Moreover, the E3 visa is easier and less costly to obtain than the traditional H1-B work visa.
The E-3 visa was originally introduced into the U.S. Immigration System in 2005. Australians may apply for E-3 visas in order to live and work in the USA trough the opportunities offered under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). The AUSFTA is a preferential trade agreement between Australia and the USA modelled on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
It ensures greater access to the United States market for Australian products.
This Agreement also enhances prospects for Australian services, trade and investment, improves the regulatory and investment environment between the two countries, and promotes increased business mobility. The AUSFTA was signed on May 18, 2004 and came into effect on January 1, 2005.
E-3 Visa Requirements
To qualify for an E-3 visa, you must demonstrate that you:
- Are a national of Australia;
- Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
- Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials;
- Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation;
- Applying for an E-3 Visa from within the United States.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
If you do not hold a bachelor's degree, you may still qualify for an E-3 visa on the basis of your other studies and/or professional work experience.
Additionally, you must have a U.S. employer sponsor you. If you don't have a prospective employer already, you can come to the U.S. for 90 days on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and use that time to look for an employer.
Alternatively, you can obtain a B1or B2 Visitor Visa which will allow you to remain in the U.S. for 6 months to seek employment. If you enter the US in B1/B2 status you will later also have the option of changing your status to E-3 while remaining in the U.S. rather than having to go to a U.S. consulate abroad to apply for the E-3 visa.
The Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) is used to apply for a change of status to obtain E-3 nonimmigrant temporary worker classification.
If your petition Form I-129 is approved, we will forward a Form I-797 (Notice of Action/Approval to the employer), who in turn will forward it to you.
After Form I-129 is approved by USCIS, you may apply for a U.S. visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, generally in your country of residence abroad.
Each year 10,500 E3 visas are reserved exclusively for Australian nationals. Unlike the H1B visa, spouses of E3 visa holders are now able to work in the United States without restrictions, unlike other U.S. non-immigrant visas, even if they are of a different nationality.
The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age are entitled to the same E-3 classification, filing a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
The E3 visa is renewable every 2 years indefinitely (in two-year increments) as opposed to singular H-1B instances which are renewable once in 3 year increments. It does not mean you will automatically be eligible for E3 visa renewal as it is up to the USCIS or U.S. Consulate assessing your case.
In most cases you should be fine but due to the non dual-intent provision of the E3 visa and maintaining home residency, sometimes it could be difficult.
If you are an Australian citizen trying to obtain an E-3 Visa as a specialty worker, don't risk a visa rejection, get help from an E-3 visa lawyer.