E3 Visa – The Bachelors Degree & Specialty Occupation Conditions

Back after a mini break which in the end was only 4 days without posting ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

CJ

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

  1. Hi CJ,
    Your site is so helpful and has helped me answer all sorts of questions I had.. thanks very much!!

    I wanted to get your opinion on what you think my chances are of being approved: I am currently on an E-3 Dependent visa and my partners employment will be ending shortly and the company I am working for would like to sponsor me on a new E3 visa.

    I don’t have a bachelors degree, but I have 11 years of experience in my field and about a quarter of a tafe degree (I couldn’t finished as we relocated to the US just after I began).

    Additionally, I head that in the last year or so, the immigration service (particularly in California) has been aggressively discriminating against non STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) positions, with small company petitioners suffering the most. Specifically, the USCIS has been routinely challenging marketing, management, sales, training and design focused positions as not requiring a bachelorโ€™s degree, and therefore not eligible for ‘H-1B’ classification…

    Do you think either of these issues will affect my application??

    Many thanks and keep up the great work!!
    Amy

  2. Hi CJ,

    I have been researching this visa for almost a year now, hoping to be eligible to apply when I graduate from my Master’s degree in June this year. Unfortunately there is no discussion anywhere relating to those who have a Masters degree but do not hold a completed bachelors degree. My undergraduate studies are incomplete and I was accepted to do my Master’s due to over 5 years industry related work experience. Do you know if eligibility is based clearly on Bachelors or HIGHER, or definitely requires a 4 year bachelors degree as a minimum?

    Thanks so much =)

  3. Hi CJ, great site!! I am currently in the US on an E-3 visa. I have been attempting to change employers since October (a process that I regret attempting and don’t recommend to anyone – just fly to Canada!). Basically the Vermont Service Center has asked for so much additional information from my new employer (6 pages in total) that I don’t even know where to begin! To cut a long story short, I am going home to Australia in April so I am just going to go to the consulate then & get my new visa the old fashioned way! But one of the things the USCIS requested was a foreign credentials evaluation of my degree. I sent my Bachelor of Economics degree off to one of the evaluation companies, only to be told that my 3 year Bachelor’s degree will not be accepted by the USCIS as such because US Bachelors degrees are 4 years. The evaluation company told me that instead of the $70 evaluation fee, I would need to spend $425 for an evaluation that credited some of my work experience to make up for the 4th year. This makes me a little suspicious because a) it seems like they are just trying to get me to spend more money and b) I have a current E-3 visa that was approved with my fully completed bachelor’s degree.

    Have the rules changed regarding what the USCIS accepts as a Bachelor’s degree? It seems crazy that the USCIS would only consider 4 year degrees with the E-3, when there are so many Aussie Bachelor’s degrees that are 3 years. I just want to get this straight before I go to the consulate.

    Many thanks!!

  4. Firstly, a massive thank you for such a fantastic resource. This website far outdoes anything else on the internet including the ‘experts’ at USCIS.

    I wanted to find out if anyone else has had success with Project Management as a specialty occupation. I’ve read a number of websites that indicate a Project Manager is not considered an occupation and it does not actually appear in the O*Net website.

    Many thanks and keep up the good work!

  5. Like everyone else has said, this is an awesome site to go to! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I understand that there are many questions about this, but I would like to be specific, because I’ve looked everywhere and cannot find a specific answer.
    Basically, I want to move to the US and it says you need a bachelors degree or something, and I was wondering if I would still be eligible with a Certificate relevant to the field I would want to work in.
    The certificate I am currently completing is a Certificate IV in Screen and Media this is being carried out at a certified institute of technology in Australia.
    I have not been to university and I have no plans to, but can I move to the US with an E3 visa with only my certificate qualification?
    And if not, is there another visa I could enter with?
    -Sarah

  6. Hi,
    First, thanks for the information on this site – it has been a great help.

    Secondly, in one of your posts you mentioned this:
    ‘In addition, you have to be making the median wage level for that job. This can sometimes be tricky: my job certainly didnโ€™t pay anywhere near the median wage, but we were able to argue that I made a certain amount as an hourly rate and worked part time. They donโ€™t need any supporting documentation to prove this information.’

    I am in the same boat and I feel that I could use your above technique but I am not too clear on it. My employer is offering me considerably less then the median wage (which I think is fine) but may not pass for a visa. What are my options?
    And are you able to apply for this visa just having a part time role. For example if my employer states that I would only be working 20 hours a week at a certain rate would they still grant me a visa? I always thought it was only for full time roles.

    Thanks in advance for your help

  7. Yes Kacee, the E3 visa can be for part time roles as well as full time roles and the same conditions apply.
    Cj

  8. Thanks for the site. Some questions …
    I am an Australian trained speech pathologist. Currently I am working in Canada but my work permit here may not be reviewed so am thinking of heading down south to the US. OK. so here is the situation …. in the US the minimum qualification for a SLP is a Masters. In Australia, it is a bachelor degree. There is a mutual recognition agreement between the US association and the Aust association which says that while not identical, it was determined that the academic course work and clinical practicum requirements for all of the signatory associations was comparable both in level and content. On the basis of this, I have got my American certification. So, given that I only have a bachelors degree would I be still eligible for the E3?
    Also, I have been in contact with an employer who wants to hire me but first I had to get my degree evaluated by an evaluation company to get state licensing. So I did that and the response was that because its only a bachelor degree, its not equivalent to the masters (because its only a bachelor degree) which contradicts what ASHA (american speech and hearing association) says. So seems like they don’t really look at the content of the degree, just the name. Is this going to affect my E3 application? (employer might still be able to place me somewhere where they don’t require me to get an additional credential evaluation and they accept ASHA’s judgement).
    Have other questions but will post in different thread.

    Thanks
    jacqui

  9. Hi,

    Thank you for all of the great information on this website. I was hoping to see if you would know anything about freelancing on a J-1 or E-3 visa. I am currently on a J-1 with the potential to move onto an E-3 next year. I have also been offered external freelance styling work as am wondering if this is allowed. If so, how do I go about invoicing? Thanks again

  10. RA you have to be sponsored by your employer with an approved LCA to legally work on an E-3 visa and with a J-1 visa you have to have an internship approved by your sponsor organization. Your pay level has to match approved levels with the E-3 visa.
    Cj

  11. Jacqui it sounds your qualifications are fine. The US Consular officials are going to look at whether you have a legitimate job offer, from a legitimate organization and both you and your qualifications are legitimate. The state licensing is technically separate but it sounds like you have a legitmate case just that you may have to appeal in person and get official letters from the ASHA group to say that your qualifications and experience are sufficient.
    Good Luck,
    Cj

  12. Hi,

    I have a question to ask.

    Say, I have submitted my E3 application and it has been rejected twice. My future employer has re-submitted the form again for the third time. I am thinking of not taking the job anymore. Is there any way that I can withdraw my case? Or if this time the visa is approved, can I still withdraw the case and not process that at all?

    Thank you for your help.

    Tanti

  13. Hi Tanti,

    Once your application has been submitted to Department of Labor, there is nothing you can really do until decision. If you have a case submitted to the USCIS and you have been given an application number, then you can call USCIS and ask them to stop processing referencing that number.

    Cj

  14. Hi CJ,
    Some interesting reading here, thank you!!
    I’m a Senior Executive Assistant, no degree but 15 years experience. One certainly can’t simply walk in off the street & do my job but would it be deemed “specialty” enough for an E3 Visa?
    I tried calling the embassy for clarification but the gentlemen in the call centre didn’t know.
    Any guidance will be VERY much appreciated!!
    Hopeful ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Hi Hopeful,
    As in the post here there are two parts to this criteria. Your 15 years of relevant work experience may be valid to be in lieu of not having at least a Bachelor’s Degree. However the job you are looking to be sponsored for also has to have a Bachelor’s Degree as a minimum criteria. Then when you do the ETA-9035e submission with the US all this information needs to get approved along with your pay level prior to you being able to apply for your E-3 visa. Then finally the assessing officer at the US consulate has complete discretion to determine whether your job and/or experience and/or company is valid for you to get a visa. So without trying to be alarmist or saying it can’t be done just that it will be a challenge at each step given the grey area.
    Cj

  16. Hi CJ

    I had gone through all the posts here but could not find a suitable answer to my situation. I wanna apply for E3 visa. i am presently working as software developer and have exp about 2 yrs. coming to qualification i did my bachelors in commerce in India and did Masters in Information Technology in Australia. Do you reckon i meet Qualification criteria for E3 visa.

    Thanks in-advance

  17. Hi Rony,
    Your academic background alone would be enough to make you eligible for the E-3 visa as long as you are an Australian citizen.
    Cj

  18. Good day CJ

    Hope you are well.
    Are you very familiar with Aussie Nurses qualifying for the E3 Visa.
    I passed my NCLEX RN already in the State of Texas.
    Have you heard of any Aussie nurses gaining an RN position that requires a Bachelors degree โ€“ and got an E3 Visa?
    I have been browsing the web it seems many RN position in the US only requires an Associates Degree

    Thanks Mate

  19. Hi CJ,

    First of all very thanks for heaps of information about E3 visa.
    My only question is regarding my bachelor degree. I had my bachelor degree in engineering from India, Is it okay to apply for E3 on the basis of Indian Bachelor degree.

    Thanks

  20. Hi CJ,

    Just after some quick advice about applying for a E-3 as a photographer,i have a Diploma in photography and my immigration lawyer is telling me i need around 50 published tear sheets of my work to apply. Is this the case ? This is also the requirement for the 0-1 that is obviously alot harder to get. any advice would be appreciated.
    Matthew

  21. A fantastic site I have just come across, thanks so much. I have an Honours degree in Journalism and now work in performing arts mostly as a contractor – writer, actor, etc but also some arts marketing. (I would not yet qualify for the specialist actor visa.) Work history has been both international but sporadic as per most careers in the arts sector. I am now looking into the E3 as a possible alternative for the purposes of building my arts career in the US, enabling me to train further, etc. Is it your understanding that as long as I apply for a job requiring a Bachelors degree and ‘specialised’ skills in either communications or arts, I might have a shot at the E3? Also, will an employer sponsor with an E3 for a temporary or part-time position, or only permanent full-time. Thanks so much!

  22. Hi Sara,
    Your understanding is largely correct and an E-3 visa can be for a part time position. However in that case you might be asked to prove how you plan to financially support yourself with current assets if only working part time with a given level of income.
    Good Luck,
    Cj

  23. Hi Matthew,
    There is no hard and fast rule for the bachelor’s degree, specialty occupation and background requirements. However if you are not the normal case then you generally need far more proof in every capacity on your side, the job side and the employer’s side. So maybe in your lawyer’s anecdotal experience he has seen that work which may be good enough or you may need more or less.
    Good Luck,
    Cj

  24. Hi MK,
    There is nothing precluding this but often can help if you just get your degree accredited as the equivalent of a US undergraduate degree by a recognized organization.
    Cj

  25. Hi CJ
    Quick question about appropriate job titles for a “specialty occupation” I’ve been working in NY at a wine bar/restaurant for the past year and they want to sponsor me on an E3 but I’m struggling to find a job title that fits a specialty occupation. Does food service manager qualify? I have a degree in business in tourism and hospitality management so my degree fits but wondering if a manager or assistant manager title would qualify for the E3 visa.
    Thanks for you help and amazing website!!

  26. Lisa if the typical Food Service Manager job tends to require a bachelor’s degree to work and the pay level you get is commensurate with the average level of a US worker then you should be fine to at least get the approved LCA. A lot of chefs are sponsored under the H-1B visa so there are roles in the food service industry that are valid. I am sure if you search here; http://www.flcdatacenter.com/ you can find a similar job title that is relevant. It doesn’t have to exactly match your job title.
    Cj

  27. Hi all

    I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, however I have just finished my Masters in Commerce and I have6 years working experience. Would this be sufficient for me to meet the requirements. I feel like I am on the grey area as I might not meet the 12 year requirement.

    Any advice is appreciated..

    Regards
    Nick

  28. Nick so if you have a graduate degree that supercedes any requirement for a Bachelor’s Degree. Also there is no actual 12 year requirement it is just a good rule of thumb when people don’t have undergraduate and graduate degrees. If the job is in a hyper specialist field requiring special skills that are unique say in genetic research or astrophysics then in all probability less years of experience may suffice. Ultimately it is a combination of the job itself, the company and your background experience and qualifications.
    Cj

  29. Great info on this site! Finally getting some questions answered!

    Here is my issue and question: my boyfriend is in the US on an e-3 visa. Before we race ahead and get married so I can also live and work in the US also we wanted to check out my e-3 visa options. I am a recently qualified teacher in Aus. According to the teaching visa (J-1) one is required to have 3 years of classroom experience before they can apply for this visa. However, can I apply for an e-3 visa if I am offered a job as a teacher?

    And one last quick question? What are the minimum number of hours one can work on an e-3 visa?

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Cheers, Sally.

  30. hi CJ
    I AM REGISTERED NURSE WORKING IN AGED CARE IN AUSTRALIA FROM LAST FOUR YEARS AND WOULD LIKE TO MOVE USA BUT NOT AS AN REGISTERED NURSE BECAUSE I DONT HAVE TIME TO PREPARE FOR NCLEX SO CAN I APPLY AS PATIENT ASSISTANT OR NURSING ASSISTANT ?

    I ALSO HAVE BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE MEANS DOUBLE DEGREE CAN HELP WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

  31. Sally if your job meets the bachelor’s degree, specialty occupation and pays the prevailing wage for the role, level and location then the E-3 visa would work for teaching. The E-3 visa can be for a part time job but it is doubtful they would approve it if was for something as little as 10 hours per week unless you were able to show how you are going to support yourself and even then could be doubtful.
    Cj

  32. Jignasa it is unlike that Nursing Assistant type roles in the US would require a Bachelor’s Degree as a mandatory qualification so may not be applicable roles. Also the prevailing wage condition is something to consider given the role level and location.
    Cj

  33. Hi CJ!

    Thanks for all you info on this site! It’s been hard to find detailed information with regards to the E3 Visa.

    I have been looking at programs that assist with the E3 Visa process here in Australia and in their requirements it says that you must have a bachelors degree, masters degree and 1 year commercial experience to qualify for the visa. I will qualify under this category once I finish my masters in July. Do I need to go under a program or can you just apply for the E3 Visa through the US embassy? Also I am looking at possibly going under the J1 Visa first, once finishing that program is it possible to then come back to apply for the E3 Visa?

    Your help is much appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Brigid you don’t need a master’s degree or work experience to be eligible for the E-3 visa. In fact technically you may not even need a Bachelor’s Degree although that is more rare. Read this post as this has the detailed conditions.
    Also the most common route to an E-3 visa is to be directly sponsored by a US employer not via any program (which most people tend to go under for the J-1 visa). You can’t directly apply for the E-3 visa yourself without a sponsoring employer first and appropriate documentation before you go to the US Consulate interview. You can do a J-1 visa first and then an E-3 visa but the process for the E-3 visa would be the same. Note that many of the J-1 visa conditions includes what is known as the 2 year bearer or home residency rule which means at conclusion of the J-1 period you can’t apply for another US visa until you have been out of the country for 2 years.
    Cj

  35. Hi there,

    Just wondering if I am still eligable for the E3 if I was 2 subjects shy from graduating my 3yr bachelor before I dropped out, but have 4yrs relivant work experience in the field.
    Would that be enough if I go get sponsorship in the US for an E3?

    Thanks.

  36. Hi CJ,

    I have a 5 year chemical engineering degree . I just got a job in an investment bank in New York. Will I have a problem getting an e3 visa?

    Because the role is in finance and degree is in engineering?

    Your advice is much appreciated. Your blog and articles are great!

    Thanks

  37. Hi CJ,

    Great website and blog. Very informative.

    I have a Bachelor of Engineering from UNSW (5 year degree). I have secured an investment banking job in NY. The HR department is now concerned that I will not be able to get my visa.

    What do you think will happen? or what advice can you give me in securing the visa?

    Thanks
    Sid

  38. Dear Cj,

    I am looking at working in the US. I am an Optometrist in Australia with a 4yr Bachelor of Applied Science and a 1yr Post Grad Certificate. However, I can’t work in America as an Optometrist until I compete a 2yr bridging course. I can get registration to work as an Ophthalmic Technician however it only requires a college diploma or Associate Degree, not a Bachelor’s. Would I still be eligible for an E3 visa? Could I apply for the E3 with the title of Optometrist even though I’d be working as an Ophthalmic Technician?

    Kind regards, Mel

  39. Melanne if it doesn’t meet the bachelor’s degree condition then likely not. You could use that title on your LCA application during the process but then of course the pay the employer is paying you has to match that title and the location of your job so if you are really doing a lesser job, then an employer will be over paying you as well as misleading the government.
    Cj

  40. Sid I have no idea what will happen as their concern may stem from your the nature of your degree in relation the job you are sponsored for. Lots of US residents with that type of qualification get that type of job but it is a different standard with immigrants. Hopefully it works out for you but there is not much you can do as your background and qualifications are what they are. They will document any financial experience you have which will help and given engineering degrees are valued highly and your salary level should all be fine then you should be ok.
    Cj

  41. Thanks for your reply Cj, that’s what I expected. And thank you for your blog, it’s really great.

    Cheers, Mel

  42. Hi CJ!

    Love your blog!

    After reading this article, I’m concerned my E3 application was rejected for no valid reason. At the interview, I was rejected based upon the job description not being a specialized role even though the employer was asking for a degree qualified person with 5+ years experience. I did have an approved LCA. I was also told I can not appeal the decision. This has cost me the position and now back to square one on the job front!
    Very frustration situation to be in!

    Laki

  43. Hi,

    I have a job offer from a start up medical marijuana consultanting company that also sells edibles. I have 1 year of a bachelors degree and 8 years in Retail management experience. They are looking for someone to run their retail side of the business. Do you think i should continue with the process? or am i not qualified enough?

    Regards,

    Jon

  44. Hi CJ๏ผŒ

    Love your blog, it’s very imformative and helpful! It has been very difficult to find detailed information about E3 visa on the internet. Finally I am here : )

    I’m Australian citizen. I completed a bachelor degree of business(specializing in accounting) and master degree of international business. However I’m always interested into arts but have no working experience in this field. Right now I decide to enrol in a 2 yrs certicate program in the field animation and visul effect in a American school. This is a very highly recognized school in the industry and all the graduates are supposed to be production-ready! In this industry, most people get job from who only watch their demo reel and judge them purely on their visual output. It is a very specialty job, but employer don’t care you got a degree or self-taught even tough they require more than what you learn from the college. In this situaltion, do you think I will have a chance to get a E3 visa if I completed the 2 yr certificate and get a job offer as a specilist in visual production?

    Sorry for the length and thank you.

    Shantel

  45. Hi CJ,

    Your website is amazing! Great information, so helpful.

    I was wondering, my career is Personal Assistant work in professional services; I do not have a Bachelors Degree, but I do have 9 years work experience in my specialised field. Is this something that the US consulate will reject an E3 visa for if I apply for jobs?

    Thanks heaps

  46. Hi everyone,

    Just hoping somebody might have some info for what’s needed as a qualified tradesman? I have a certificate in joinery and completed my apprenticeship in 2005. Im 31 years old. I can’t seem to find a lot of info for tradespersons wanting to work in the usa on potentially the E3 visa or another specific visa needed for a tradesperson. So I guess my question is, is it possible to attain an e3 without a bachelors degree, does a trade certificate possibly equal this? Or is there another visa available for trade related skills for the USA?
    Thank you,
    Tony1983

  47. Hi CJ,
    I have been looking at the posts on here but none specifically pertains to my situation. I am currently in the U.S. On a J-1 visa that is valid for another 6 months. However, I have just been offered employment for a large business that is not in my field. I have a degree in biomedical science and the job title is a ‘product specialist’ for a car selling business. Clearly the two are unrelated, but my question is, if I work for them for the next 6 months until the cessation of the J-1, would this be sufficient in providing reason for them to sponsor me on an E3? Or do you think my degree being unrelated to the field would hinder that option?
    Thanks in advance!

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