E-3 Australian Professional Visa

The E-3 Visa:

The E-3 visa is a United States visa for which only citizens of Australia are eligible[1]. It was created by an Act of the United States Congress as a result of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), although it is not formally a part of the AUSFTA. The legislation creating the E-3 visa was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on May 11, 2005.

The E-3 visa is similar in many respects to the H-1B visa. Important differences include the fact that spouses of E-3 visa holders may work in the United States without restrictions (unlike other US non-immigrant visas, even the TN visa issued to Canadian and Mexican citizens), and that the E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely (in two-year increments). Australian citizens applying for an E-3 visa are also no longer subject to the 65,000 annual visa limit for H-1B visas; although there is a separate annual quota of 10,500 E-3 visas, this is believed to be much more generous to Australians than requiring them to compete with all other nations for H-1B visas. Visas issued to spouses and children are not included in the E3 quota and spouses and children do not need to be Australian citizens.

E-3 visas are non-immigrant visas. Accordingly, E-3 visa holders must prove their intent to return to Australia when the E-3 job is finished. This is significantly different from an H-1B visa, which is also a non-immigrant visa, but allows dual intent. Thus, although an H-1B visa holder may apply for permanent residency (a green card) while working on an H-1B visa, an E-3 visa holder may not. However, an E-3 visa holder may apply for permanent residency under an alternative category, for example if their spouse is an American citizen. Also, E-3 visas may be renewed indefinitely (in theory) whereas any one H-1B visa is valid only up to six years (unless the H-1B holder begins the green card process in which case the H-1B is extended during the time the green card application is pending).

The regulations for applying for an E-3 visa were published in the United States Federal Register on September 2, 2005. Following these procedures will allow an Australian citizen to apply for an E-3 visa at a US embassy or consulate.

Similar to an H-1B visa, the prospective employer of the E-3 visa holder will first apply for a “Labor Condition Application” (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor, with a note at the top of the form indicating it is for an E-3 visa for an Australian citizen. After the LCA is granted, the Australian citizen will then apply for the actual visa at a US consulate and then enter the US. Australians who are already in the United States on another type of temporary/non-immigrant visa may also apply to change their status to an E-3 visa. Change of visa status is not possible if the applicant has entered the country under the visa waiver program.

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