If you are an Australian national, this is an excellent visa category. Advantages of the E-3 include: employment start date at any time of year (because the yearly quota has never been met); minimal government filing fees; and a direct filing option with the US consulate. Applicants may ask for two years of work authorization and may renew in two year increments.
Requirements for an E-3 Visa:
Three main factors determine eligibility for this visa:
- The applicant must be an Australian national
- The position offered must require a bachelor's degree or higher in a specified field or fields
- The applicant must have the specified bachelor's degree OR have the equivalent of a bachelor's degree via work experience/education
- The employer must agree to pay the prevailing wage
Advantages to the E-3 Visa:
- Spouse of the principal E-3 Visa Holder may apply for work authorization in the United States
- The E-3 visa is only given to Australian nationals. Because of the limited applicant pool, the 10,500 yearly visa cap has never been reached. This fact allows for flexibility in employment start dates.
- The applicant may apply for the E-3 directly at the US consulate instead of first gaining approval from the US Department of Homeland Security.
May E-3 Visa Holders Apply for a Green Card?
Yes, they can! As for other professional workers, there are three steps to obtaining a green card via employment. To learn more, please click on the following: step one (labor certification application); step two (I-140 immigrant petition) and step three (green card application). As immigrant intent can be a concern, it may be wise to switch to an H-1B visa at some point during the process.
Definition of U.S. Bachelor's Degree Equivalent:
In order to qualify for an E-3 visa, the applicant must have a four year degree from a U.S. college or university or the equivalent of this degree. There are two ways to demonstrate this equivalency: via a full four year foreign degree or via education and professional work experience.
If the applicant has a post-secondary degree based on four years of study, this will generally be the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree. To determine this, the degree must be submitted to an accredited independent credentials evaluator, who will then certify the U.S. degree equivalence. This certification is then submitted to DHS along with the E-3 petition.
An applicant may also relying on a combination of education and professional work experience to demonstrate equivalency to a U.S. bachelor's degree. Three years of progressively responsible work experience may be substituted for each year of college level education that the applicant lacks. To determine this, the degree and detailed proof of experience must be submitted to an accredited independent credentials evaluator. In addition, the documentation must be evaluated by two college professors who work in the specialty, who will then certify the U.S. degree equivalence.
Other Business Visas That Might Apply:
In addition to E-3 visas, DHS also grants business immigration visas to investors, other professional workers, intra-company transfer employees and applicants seeking on-the-job training. Some categories require a bachelor's degree, but several work visas exist for those lacking a four year college level degree. For more information about these business immigration visas, please read these articles:
- B-1 and B-2 VISAS: Business and Pleasure
- F-1 VISA: Employment Options for Students
- E-2 VISA: Investors
- H-1B Visa: Speciality Employees
- H-3 Visa: Training Visa
- J-1 VISA: Trainee and Intern Exchange Visitors
- L-1 A and L-1B VISA: Managers, Executives and Specialized Knowledge Employees
- O VISA: Persons of Extraordinary Ability
- P Visa: Internationally Recognized Athletes, Artists, Entertainers and Culturally Unique Entertainers
- TN VISA: Canadian and Mexican Workers