What is the E3 Visa?

If you go to many other US Visa sites or forums and people talk about the E3 visa, this question is the only question that really seems to get answered. Many people I see get frustrated because they ask questions related to the many other visa posts I have in this blog but all people give them are the visa facts.

Well for the first time, I am going to go through the basic facts of the E3 Visa using the embassy FAQ site as a basis for my post.

  • The E3 Visa is a visa exclusively for Australian citizens allowing them to work in the US
  • Spouses and Dependent Children (usually under 21) do NOT need to be Australian citizens but the relationship must be a proven marriage between a male and female (the US does not recognize same-sex or common law relationships) They fall under the E3D Visa
  • You need to have a job offer from a US company prior to applying at the Consulate
  • You can NOT apply for a new E3 Visa from within the US
  • You can transfer from certain visas to the E3 Visa within the US but NOT from Tourist Status
  • There is nothing specifically stopping you going to the US to search for a job as a tourist, however you must leave the country to then apply for your visa
  • You can apply for your E3 visa from most Consulates and Embassies around the world but is always good to check with that particular Embassy first.
  • Within Australia you can apply from the Consulates in Melbourne, Perth or Sydney
  • E3 Visa is for applicants seeking employment in a specialty occupation.
  • A specialty occupation is one defined as required a specialized body of knowledge and the position itself requires a bachelor (or higher degree) degree equivalent at a minimum
  • If you have sufficient work experience in lieu of a bachelors degree and can prove it to the US consulate in the field of the job offer you possess then, that will be considered as well
  • Generally as Trade positions do not require bachelors degrees they are not considered suitable for this visa
  • The only petition required of the employer is to submit Form 9035/9035E to the Department of Labor to receive a Labor Condition Application (LCA) – at the time of writing this is still a free submission
  • The visa is valid for 2 years, and able to be renewed indefinitely for periods of 2 years as long as the job position is still valid and not considered permanent
  • There are 10,500 E3 Visas issued each year (this quota does not include extensions or spouses) and this quota has yet to be reached in any fiscal year (October – September)
  • E3 Visa holders must show they intend to return home when their visa expires
  • Spouses may work under the E3D visa and have to file Form I765 AFTER they enter the US to the USCIS (this can take up to 3 months to be approved)
  • You can enter the US 10 Days before and leave 10 Days after you start your job
  • The E3 visa is a multiple entry visa so as long as your passport and visa are current you can travel
  • You can change employers but your new employer must lodge a new LCA within 10 days
  • It usually takes 2-3 days within Australia for your visa to be issued back to you after your approval at the Consulate

What requirements and documents are needed for the application and Consulate Interview?– A job offer letter from the prospective United States-based employer

  • Electronic Visa Application Form (EVAF) DS-160, completed online (http://evisaforms.state.gov/) and printed out
  • 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. This is the LCA Form
  • Your Degree or Proof of Equivalent work experience (often they don’t even look at this)
    • To Note: 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.
    • U.S. 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.
  • Evidence establishing that the applicant’s stay in the United States will be temporary. (this could be bank accounts, mortgages, car/business    ownership, family ties)
  • A certified copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment
  • Evidence of payment of the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee, also known as the application fee. This is payable at Australia Post in Australia or if other embassy/consulate, their local procedure , and applicants should bring the  receipt to the interview as evidence of payment.

What Does An E-3 Visa Look Like?

In terms of eventually getting a Green Card there is nothing specifically precluding you from applying for one via your employer however technically the E-3 visa is not a dual intent visa like the H-1B visa. The actual regulations state;

“An application for initial admission, change of status or extension of stay in E-3 classification, however, may not be denied solely on the basis of an approved request for permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa preference petition.”

So this basically means they can’t deny an E-3 visa application just because you have an open Green Card application

I hope this all helps.

CJ

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233 thoughts on “What is the E3 Visa?

  1. Hi, I’ve been offered a job in America and am currently in the process of getting my E3 visa. I had one question which I haven’t been able to find an answer for, and this seems to be the place to ask it since you have a lot of great information about the E3 visa here. I was thinking about possibly doing a Masters degree part time at a university in the United States which is close to where I will be working. Would this be allowed? I have seen it written that the E3D visa allows for dependents to study, but no mention of whether someone on an E3 visa is allowed to study in the United States.

  2. I have an Australian passport and want to confirm that if you have a job offer in the US in writing you can apply for the E3 visa. I have been told this takes approx 10 days and then you can travel to the US. Can you confirm this and also is there a specific time you have to apply for this and are there only a certain number given out each year? Thanks.

  3. Hi, thank you for a great site!

    This question may have been answered before but I would just like to 100% confirm. I have a Bachelor in Sports Tourism Management and I am currently applying for a Job as a Global Partnerships Administrative Assistant. The job description does say it requires the applicant to have a College Degree. Is this sufficient enough for me to apply for an E3 visa? Even though it is an assistant position?

    Thank you for your help!

  4. Hi Steph,
    At face value you are going to have big problems with that job as it probably not only doesn’t meet the Bachelor’s Degree, Specialty Occupation and your academic and work history requirements being relevant but it also probably won’t pay at a rate that is commensurate with passing at the Department of Labor certification that is also needed.
    Good Luck,
    Cj

  5. Hi Emma,
    It is a lot more complex than just having a written job offer as explained here; https://visacoach.org/2010/01/15/e3-visa-process/.
    Your employer needs to file for your LCA (Labor Condition Application) to the Department of Labor. Then once you have this you can take all your details and application forms to the US Consulate who will then assess your case and issue your visa. There are 10,500 E-3 visas every year and can be applied for at any time. The cap has never even been close to being hit in any year since it began in 2005.
    Good Luck,
    Cj

  6. HI Michael,
    Yes you can study while on the E-3 visa you jsut have go through all the appropriate application and paper work with the University. This in and of itself is not always easy and certainly not fast.
    Cj

  7. Hi, and thank you for this amazing site, would be lost without it.

    I know this has been asked before, but I’ve read a lot of conflicting information lately. If I have a 3 year Bachelor’s Degree from an Australian university, does that satisfy the education requirement? I’ve seen a lot of people talking about having to have a 4 year degree?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    Sarah

  8. Hey there!

    I want to take up personal training/crossfit coaching in America and I am unsure whether this would be considered a specialty occupation. Certificates are involved, however from my understanding no undergraduate/post graduate qualifications are necessary.

    Aside from this I too am in possession of a Law and Journalism degree (honors in Law). I’ve ample experience in the above fields (law clerk 3 years +; publicist/sports writer 4 + years).

    I’m just stuck right now… as I don’t want to enter into the US and undertake employment where I haven’t the heart to put my best foot forward.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated. = )

  9. Hi Shontelle,
    It is unlikely you would qualify for that role b/c it wouldn’t be seen as an occupation requiring a bachelors degree plus your academic and job experience background wouldn’t match the role. You could always try but it would be a tough road and additionally you would most likely need to be employed by an employer as well. You can read more information here; https://visacoach.org/2009/05/22/e3-visa-the-bachelors-degree-specialty-occupation-conditions/
    Cj

  10. Hi CJ!

    Just to add to all the comments above, thanks for such a great and helpful website 🙂

    I am Australian and am in the US on a B2 visa. As I am already on a B2 visa, am I able to apply for the E3 visa from a US consulate in Canada? If i leave the US to go to Canada does my B2 end, or does it still stay valid since I haven’t left North America? I’m confused as to what would happen – upon receipt of an E3 does my B2 visa become void? Or do I have to apply for a change of status from B2 to E3?

    Thank you, I look forward to your response 🙂

    AP

  11. AP you can either transfer to an E-3 visa status from a B-2 visa within the US or get a new E-3 visa and stamp from outside the US. The difference between the two options being timing, cost and future visa stamping. If you transferred within the country you would have to get file form I-129 with USCIS to transfer your visa status after you get your LCA. Now that approval can take 3-4 months on average and you won’t be able to work in the interim. The I-129 filing fee is $325. Additionally once you leave the US you would have to get a new E-3 Visa via a US Consulate interview anyway to return into the US. That is why this route is technically known as being on E-3 status allowing to remain in country and operate under E-3 visa rules as opposed to having an E-3 visa as you would have no stamp in your passport until you left the country and attended the interview. The other route in leaving the country would mean you get a whole new E-3 visa. This would not require filing the I-129 form but would require the cost for the E-3 visa interview at the US Consulate where you apply. You should note that some first time E-3 visa applicants have noted issues when applying in Canada with the consulate not hearing their cases saying they have to apply in Australia. Others have reported no issue and no issues have been reported with this at other US Consulates around the world outside Australia. Probably the most prudent thing to do is to check with the particular US Consulate you get an interview at and note the Canadian ones tend to have long waiting periods.
    In both cases after you get either E-3 status change or a new E-3 visa your B-2 visa would no longer apply.
    Cj

  12. Thank you CJ. Another question – I know that under the E-3 visa I will not be able to reenter the US until 10 days before the start of my employment, however that won’t give me a lot of time to find a place to live and set myself up etc. Will I be able to reenter the US earlier under the VWP or my B-2 visa, go to Canada for a few days and then return to the US under the E-3 visa 10 days before the start of employment?
    Thanks again,
    AP

  13. AP you can’t enter the country on one visa type and then operate on another legally (i.e. Visa Waiver or B-2 and then function on E-3). To stop that generally other visas are voided when you are issued with your latest visa and you may be stopped at the border if your try and enter on Visa Waiver if you have a valid other visa like the E-3 visa or they may void that which you obviously don’t want. 10 days is not a lot of time so most people setup temporary accommodations in first weeks and month or two while getting settled. Often if your company is nice they might help out with this.
    Cj

  14. Dear Admin,

    First of all thank you so much for providing such a useful and detailed information. I can’t believe how many times you would have helped some one in getting this VISA. I am also looking to apply for this visa but want a quick confirm though if you could plz help me out.

    I have done my bachelor degree in IT then Master degree in IT over seas so it took altogether 5 years to complete both of them then I came in Australia to do Masters in Information System that took another year and so on. I have been working in Telecomm industry for more than 5 years. Would I be considered for that Speciality Occupation?

    can you plz suggest any companies or consultancies who can help a bit in getting offer letter by any chance?

    Plz help

    Regards,
    Joshi

  15. Joshi there is no companies that specialize in giving offer letters as you are applying for a job like anybody else and if they want to hire you as a foreigner they have to follow the immigration process which includes an offer letter amongst other things. The employers on this page hired foreigners in the greatest numbers https://visacoach.org/us-visa-employers/ but thousands on employers hire foreign nationals but may only hire 1 or 2 a year or for their entire company. In terms of your qualifications they are more than enough in terms of your self but it is the job itself that has to be specialty occupation and generally if its minimum requirement is a Bachelor’s Degree it should pass that test. Also to note for the E-3 visa specifically you have to be an Australian citizen to be eligible for it.
    Cj

  16. Dear Admin,

    Thank you so much for your reply and information. Yes, I have been searching a lot and I am an Australian Citizen and hence wanting to lodge E-3 visa. So at least good to know that my qualifications seem ok but in terms of speciality occupation how would I know?

    I mean I have spent more than 5 years with my current employer in Telecommunication industry as a Service Desk Line Manager so does that mean the job offer I am looking for that has to be under speciality occupation ? is there any list of positions that are considered as speciality occupation for IT sector or my current role should be under speciality occupation. any information on this would be much appreciated. Once again thank you for your useful guidance.

    Kind Regards,
    Joshi

  17. Hello,

    I am in America on J1 Visa and want to continue this job as a marketing manager by applying for an transferring onto an E3. I do not have the 2 year residency rule on mine.
    What is my process?
    Who can I call for more information?
    Can I do my interview at an embassy here?

    Once my employer has lodged the ETA 90353 and it is approved can I do the rest from within America?

    I found these two point from the above article:
    You can NOT apply for a new E3 Visa from within the US
    You can transfer from certain visas to the E3 Visa within the US but NOT from Tourist Status

    I would love it if you could give me an outline of my whole process and whether I need to leave America for an interview at a consulate.

    Thanks for your help,
    Steph

  18. Steph outside of an attorney or support groups you can call the USCIS within the US but the information they will give you is very general. If within the US your company has to file an I-129 with USCIS after the approved LCA. This initial filing date has to be before your current J-1 visa expires. There are no US consulates or embassies in the US. Read this for more information https://visacoach.org/2010/01/15/e3-visa-process/.
    Cj

  19. Hi there, I have just been offered a job by a start-up in the US. They have submitted my LCA and I am waiting for approval. I have read quite a few blog posts about start-ups and immigration not approving the E3 visa because the company is too new, not well established.

    Have you heard anything like this? What is your experience with a US start-up sponsoring an E3 visa? Would I be better off going back on a B2 and then looking for a more established organization to sponsor me whilst there? Comments and experiences will be much appreciated.

    Thanks!

  20. Mel many people get employed at start-ups on US work visa. Ultimately the same criteria applies to nature of role, specialty occupation and bachelor’s degrees conditions, being paid at least the prevailing wage for the role and location and that the company is legitimate as has an IRS tax ID, in good standing and solvent. Usually the ones getting denied have one or more of these criteria at issue.
    Cj

  21. Hi, I am here in the US on an E-3D visa. I am interested in further study but would like to know – if I apply to study here in the states, would I be paying international tuition fees or local fees? I can’t seem to find any information on this. Is it at the university’s discretion? Thank you!

  22. Hi all. I found work as a marketing specialist for an Ad agency. The prevailing wage was too high for the category I was qualified for so in order to achieve sponsorship we selected a slightly different category from the ACWIA Higher Education list. Office Clerk, general.

    The application itself doesn’t really ask for any proof of experience or study, so has anyone qualified for work with this job category before? It doesn’t specifically say it requires a degree on the website, though sometimes does. Therefore surely my case should be fine because I have both a Bachelor and Masters degree?

  23. Hi,
    Ok I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this but ill go ahead and ask anyway. I have 14 years experience in the film and games industry as an artist. I have no formal qualifications for this at all. I’ve gotten by on sheer talent as pretensious as that sounds. On top of this my highest level of high school education completed was year 10. Would I be eligible to get an e3 visa if I had a job offer?

  24. Thanks for all the info on the site!

    Just a question, are you allowed to run a side online business while on a E3 visa with a full time job?

  25. Hi Guys,

    Not sure if you are still looking at these questions, But I have the opportunity for a job, and then will need to apply for a E-3 Visa, But don’t have a Degree, but I do have over 12 years work in the Same industry, What sort of proof of this do I need to supply? and As I do visit the USA for Holidays, I would not want to put that at risk if they for some reason
    my application was denied, What sort of thing do you think it would be denied ( i Don’t have any Police record)

    Regards
    Pat

  26. Hi guys, I’ve recently been offered a job in the US, no contract yet, and I’m getting married in early July, if I get the contract and start the visa process before I get married will that hinder my wife’s ability to be on the visa as a spouse?

  27. Hi thanks again on such informative information. My question is, if you are on an E3 visa can you work for another employer at the same time, like having a part time job as well? I know you can transfer from one employer to another as long as you lodge the correct documents in 10 days but do you know any information on working a part time job as well unrelated to E3 visa employer?

  28. Hi CJ,
    Your site is really good, thank you for taking the time to create it and offer such a wealth of information.

    I would be grateful for your advice,
    I am a photographer & have been fulltime in the industry for over 12 years, no degree as such but have an enormous body of published work. I want to move to the US to continue advancing my work in entertainment/photography do you think it is easier and cheaper for me to go for an E3 visa or should I apply for the O1 artist visa with an immigration lawyer or can I do this by myself?

    I did read the 6 qualifying points I would require for the O1 application which I can easily meet, but was unsure of the last point for Salary, can you explain to me how I would meet this criteria?
    (I do know it states I only need 3 out of the 6 points but is salary one of the most important ones?)

    I have spoken to an immigration agent but the costs was over $4000usd and take up to 3 months. I also did find a sponsor (industry agent who wanted to charge me a fee) but I am not sure how it works being a freelancer photographer when you need to be available with as much freedom as possibile to work for multiple agencies or companies in entertainment?

    Can you shed any light on this and suggest what is the quickest & cheapest path to take with a more likely result of getting the visa?

    Thanks Francis

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