E-3 Visa Category for Professional Australian National Workers05 Jul 2017
The E-3 visa is a nonimmigrant, employment-based visa category available to qualifying Australian citizens. While very similar to the H1B classification, the E-3 classification has a few unique requirements and benefits.
General Requirements Parallel Those of H1B Category
The E-3 category allows an individual to enter the United States for the sole purpose of working in a specialty occupation, and is granted to a maximum 10,500 Australian nationals per fiscal year. As of this writing, the annual E-3 cap has never been reached.
As with the H1B category, the foreign national must have an employer petitioning for the E-3 classification and the employee must be offered a position in a specialty occupation. The petitioning employer must file a labor condition application (LCA), create a public access file, provide evidence of the foreign national’s qualifications, and pay the worker the actual or prevailing wage.
Key Differences From H1B Category
Besides the fact that the E-3 is limited to Australian citizens (including those born elsewhere, but who later acquire Australian citizenship), while the H1B can be used by citizens or nationals of most other countries, there are other inherent differences between the E-3 and H1B categories. For E-3, if the Australian worker being sponsored is abroad, no petition is required; rather, the person may apply directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Unlike the H1B category, which typically can be issued for an initial period of up to three years, the E-3 generally is granted for an initial validity period of up to two years. E-3 status then, typically, can be extended in two-year increments. Further, there is no limit on the total number of years one may remain in E-3 status, as opposed to the standard six-year max for H1B workers.
While the H1B category allows for dual-intent, to be granted an E-3 visa or E-3 status, the foreign national must evidence a lack of immigrant intent. However, pursuant to official guidance, E-3 status should not be denied based solely on a pending or approved labor certification or immigrant petition.
Employment Benefits for E-3 Dependent Spouse
The dependent spouse of an E-3 worker is eligible to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) upon entry into the United States in a dependent status. Unlike the H-4 EAD benefit, no approved I-140 is required for the E-3 spouse to be eligible for the EAD benefit.
The E-3 category is a useful option for professional workers from Australia who wish to be employed in the U.S. The process tends to be relatively quick and, because the E-3 cap is virtually a non-issue, this category can be a great way for U.S. companies to utilize Australian talent.
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