E3 Visa – The Bachelors Degree & Specialty Occupation Conditions

Back after a mini break which in the end was only 4 days without posting πŸ™‚ Hope you all did not miss me too much. Since the title is a common question I get asked, I thought I would do a mini post about it.

So the E3 Visa has this requirement about Bachelor Degree and the role being a specialty occupation. Look even if you read the US Embassy FAQ about this, the definition is really a whole bunch of words that mean nothing.

In short the E3 Visa will apply if the job you are applying for in the US has a Bachelors Degree as one of the requirements or conditions for hiring a candidate. Now that does not necessarily mean you need a bachelors degree that is relevant to the role you are being hired for or even a Bachelors Degree at all.

In the US the undergraduate degree system is a lot more general so people may major in Political Science for example but go into Investment Banking. So if you have an Arts, Commerce, Science, Engineering or Law Degree as an Australian that will pretty much cover you for most roles.

They may ask you a question at the Consulate interview about this but that is easily answered by “you having a desire to go into **** field because that is where your talent and passion lies and your degree gives you great underlying knowledge to pursue it” (or something to that effect πŸ™‚ haha) Most likely it will never even come up.

If you don’t have a bachelors degree, the so-called rule is that you have 2 to 2.5 years of relevant work experience in lieu of each year of a standard degree in the field you are applying for. Now in Australia you can get Bachelors Degrees in 3 years but in the US it generally takes 4 years to get an undergraduate bachelors degree.

My tip is if you don’t have a degree but you have 9-12 years of verifiable work experience that is directly related to the role you have applied for and won in the US, and the employer has successfully filed an received the LCA from the US Department of Labor for you to take to the Visa Interview, then you will be fine! (of course the more experience the better!!)

So a specialty occupation for the E3 visa really becomes a role which requires specialized knowledge that can be obtained either by you having a Bachelors Degree or enough relevant work experience.

Of course for the E3 Visa, if your role requires some sort of certification that you need to do in the US to ply your trade in addition to your background qualifications, then you will have to that as well soon after entering the US.

Hope this clears things up.


162 thoughts on “E3 Visa – The Bachelors Degree & Specialty Occupation Conditions

  1. Hi E3 Visa,

    Love the site and the knowledge you can gain as there isn’t much help elsewhere to know this knowledge especially the E-3
    Anywho, I have a question that I really need clearing up and help with

    I have just been studying in the U.S. On a J-1 visa and now have extended it for academic training, I have been offered a position however in a ‘Marketing and sales’ position, however after talking to a visa attorney she advises me that proving to USCIS that my position is a speciality occupation is going to be almost impossible to explain and prove. But after reading a few of your articles it seems do able? How would I go abouts proving that my position that I have offered (more a sales job than anything) is a speciality occupation???

    Thanks Luke

  2. Hi CJ,

    I’m looking to get into TV production. I received cert IV in digital medua at TAFE, in the middle of completing an online diploma in TV production, and have just finished living in Canada for two years, where I interned for a film organisation. Is there any chance in hell that I’ll be able to get an E3 given my lack of experience and education?


  3. Hey guys,

    I have a question re. choosing the correct job code on my LCA for a job on the E3 visa. I have been offered a role as an assistant fashion stylist. Can you please tell me whether the ‘Education & Training Code’ needs to require a bachelor’s degree in order for the code to qualify or whether the employer merely needs to state on the job offer that the role requires a bachelor’s degree (and therefore I can choose a job code for which the ‘Education & Training Code’ states ‘No level set’).

    Example of two options below: – would both of these job codes be suitable for an E3 visa?

    27-1022.00 Fashion Designers
    Design clothing and accessories. Create original designs or adapt fashion trends.
    O*Netβ„’ JobZone: 3
    Education & Training Code: 5-Bachelor’s degree (is this necessary???)

    27-1019.00 Artists and Related Workers, All Other
    All artists and related workers not listed separately.
    O*Netβ„’ JobZone: NA
    Education & Training Code: No Level Set

    Also! If you have any advice re. the most relevant code to use for this particular job that would also be very helpful.


  4. Hi All,
    This site is fantastic and a wealth of information!
    I have just been offered a senior management role with my organization in the USA. Unfortunately my company no longer provides visas but are more than happy for me to apply for an E3 Visa and go from there. The part I am stuck on is the bachelors degree equivalent and specific roles which apply. I have 17 years in my field in the tourism and airline industry and secondary high school qualifications. I have the relevant reference letters from each employer over the 17 years (4 jobs over 17 years in AUS). A requirement of the role was a bachelors degree and the company are happy to file the LCA etc, but wondering if anyone has any knowledge regarding an airline/tourism role and the relevant experience. Many thanks in advance! Cheers, Em

  5. Hi,

    If my employer has already file labor for other forienger and they are happy to offer me a position as an accountant as I have done MPA from CQU. If they file LCA will it be approved?

  6. Hey,

    Love the site!! Just one thing, I’ve been on a J1 visa and have been working for a gym as gym staff/personal trainer. Now they want me to stay and want to sponsor me but the job doesn’t require any kind of bachelors. What can they do to sponsor me for such job? Is there any way around this?
    Please this is urgent!

    You’re awesome.

    Thanks Demi

  7. Hi Visa Coach,

    Im trying my luck here because it doesn’t look like you have been replying, but here it goes. I just wanted to clarify.. I hold a Bachelors of Chemical Engineering but have to interest in working in the field. If I get offered a job unrelated to my bachelor degree lets say (a) Design – while holding a Certificate IV Graphic Design or (b) Analyst.

    I am a little confused because I was sure it had to be directly related to the course.


  8. Hi guys
    I have just been speaking to an attorney because I’m super in love with the USA and want to stay here, currently on a J1 but want to move to e3. My bachelor of health science is only a 3 year degree but my attorney seems to think it needs to be a 4 year degree for me to apply. Can anyone clear this up as to weather it has to be the full 4 years or if it just has to be a bachelor?

  9. Hi Fiona,

    I am by no means an expert as I’m still in the process of seeking E3 visa sponsorship myself – however, from my research and understanding of the education system in the US is that the level of their education seems to be a tad lower than Aus, hence why their Bachelors degrees are 4 years compared to 3 and why many professional roles that would only require a Bachelors in Aus require a Masters or higher here (this judgement is also based on the numerous American exchange students I knew whilst completing my own degree who tended to struggle with the level of coursework whilst studying in Aus).

    Also, as the Visa Coach mentioned in earlier replies experience matters and can be substituted for years of a degree – so as long as you have at least 2 years experience in your field on top of your 3 year degree you should be fine. It’ll also depend on your employer though and whether they can define the role as a specialty occupation requiring a degree and experience level (minimum 4 year Bachelor’s) that you can fulfil.

    The whole ‘specialty occupation’ part is a sticking point for me just now, there’s a HR role I’m in the process of applying for and my background is a Bachelor’s in Psychology as well as several years experience in project administration and management so I believe I would be very well suited to the role, however the job description only specifies a Bachelor’s degree (not specifically Psychology), along with key areas of knowledge and skills that are more specific. However their Immigration team doesn’t think the role qualifies as a ‘specialty occupation’ as the degree requirement of the role isn’t specific itself – my argument is that as far as I can tell in my research there is no clear definition of what a ‘specialty occupation’ constitutes, apart from being a role in a professional field that requires the application of knowledge obtained in a Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent) – and I feel that the role fulfils that requirement. I have a phone conference scheduled with the team next week where hopefully I’ll find out if they’re basing their judgement on actual experience in being unsuccessful with HR role applicants, or if it’s just based on their conservative interpretation of what a specialty occupation role is.

    As a side note, I don’t believe this site is kept up to date any longer – so if anyone has any other more recent resources I would be really grateful!!

    Also, if there are any links or resources or even anecdotes regarding different roles people know E3 visa’s have been granted for – particularly roles that don’t necessarily scream ‘specialty’ in definition – I would love to know about them!

    Cheers πŸ™‚

  10. Hi CJ,

    What are the steps to obtain the E-3 if after your first interview you are denied?

  11. Hello. I’m an Australian citizen and Qualified electrician. Would I quality for an E3?

    Many thanks

  12. Hi CJ,

    Could combining years studied at university with years of work experience equate to a bachelor’s degree? Just for instance, I have an Advanced Diploma of Building Design (2.5 years of study) and I have been working within my field for 1.5 years. Could this be a valid point when applying for a E3 visa?


    Shaun Nelson

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