By Mary Helen Rigney, J.D, Law Clerk & Kaitlyn Garcia, J.D., Managing Attorney | Immigration Attorney | Houston, Texas
The E-3 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa that applies only to nationals of Australia who will be working as professionals in specialty occupations.
What is a Specialty Occupation?
Generally put, a "specialty occupation" requires at least a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent.
How to qualify for an E-3 visa?
To qualify for an E-3 visa, the individual must:
· Be a national of Australia;
· Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
· Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials; and
· Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.
What are the differences Between H-1B and E-3 Visas
The E-3 visa is very similar in many respects to the H-1B visa. However, there are two big differences between the two visas worth noting.
1. E-3 visa has unlimited extensions, however the H-1B has limited extensions
The E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely in two-year increments. The application for an E-3 visa is much quicker than many other visas. Whereas an H-1B visa is limited to two 3-year terms or, in other words, to 6 years total. The only way to extend past the 6 year limit on H-1B is with a green card process in the works.
2. Can’t have "Dual Intent"
Dual Intent refers to the fact that certain U.S. visas allow foreigners to be temporarily in the U.S. with lawful status and immigrant (green card) intent at the same time. With an E-3 visa this is not allowed. All E-3 nonimmigrants must maintain an intention to be temporarily in the the United States (meaning no green card pathway for an E-3 holder, unless they move to another status like H-1B).
Similarities Between H-1B and E-3 Visas
1. Similar to an H-1B visa, the prospective employer of the E-3 visa holder will first apply for a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor, with a note at the top of the form indicating it is for an E-3 visa for an Australian citizen.
2. Once the LCA is approved, the Australian citizen will then apply for the actual visa at a U.S. consulate and then enter the U.S. The visa should arrive in about a week and the Australian citizen is then able to travel as soon as the day after receiving the visa.
Ways to apply for an E-3 visa
If outside of the U.S. an Australian citizen can apply through consular processing.
Australians who are already in the United States on another type of temporary or non-immigrant visa may also apply to change their status to an E-3 visa.
Note: change of visa status is not possible if the applicant has entered the country under the visa waiver program, however, if the applicant has entered on a different visa such as with an F-1 student visa, then a change of status is allowed.
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