What is an E-3 Specialty Occupation Visa?
The E-3 visa is a non-immigrant visa. It is designed to allow US employers to recruit and employ Australian professionals in specialty occupations within the US.
Do I qualify for E-3 Specialty Occupation Status?
The main criteria for entry under the E-3 specialty occupation visa category are that you:
- Are in a “specialty occupation”;
- Are an Australian citizen;
- Have a US petitioning employer who, inter alia, offers remuneration equal to or more than the prevailing wage or actual wage rate within the relevant state and profession; and
- Have an offer of employment in a permanent position.
What is a Specialty Occupation?
A “specialty occupation” is defined as one requiring “theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge”, combined with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. It is not enough to hold a bachelor’s degree in a specialized area; your proposed employment must require such a degree or its equivalent in order to meet the criteria.
What occupations may qualify for an E-3 visa?
Specialty occupations include, but are certainly not limited to: lawyers, accountants, doctors, teachers, pharmacists, social workers, engineers and architects.
What are the benefits associated with E-3 visas?
- Spouses are eligible for employment authorization – they may accept work at any work place (with exceptions including any job that requires you to be a US citizen)
- Continuously renewable;
- Low filing fees;
- Faster processing times without having to pay exorbitant premium processing fees.
What is the cap/quota for E-3?
There are 10,500 visas available in this category each year. This limit, however, unlike H-1B, has thus far never been reached. Your ability to obtain such a visa therefore falls entirely on the merits of your case, rather than the added difficulty associated with H-1B of complete over-subscription which results in a lottery effect.
For how long are E-3 visas approved?
Your E-3 visa will generally be approved for 2 years. However, unlike the H-1B visa, you may extend for 2 year-long periods. There is no maximum number of extensions, subject to a few exceptions.
Can I bring my spouse and children?
Your spouse and children under the age of 21 years may apply at the relevant embassy or consulate for derivative E-3 visas based on their relationship with you, the principal E-3 visa holder.
What is labor certification?
US employers obtain a document from the Department of Labor attesting to a number of matters that are central to an E-3 application. These include:
- The proposed E-3 employee is to be paid the higher of the prevailing wage rate and the actual wage rate, along with being afforded the same benefits as their US citizen colleagues;
- Working conditions will not adversely impact the working conditions of workers similarly employed; and
- That there are no issues at the place of work e.g. strike, lockout, work stoppage.