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The E-3 visa
The E-3 visa category allows qualified citizens of Australia to come to the United States to perform services in a "Specialty Occupation," defined as a position that requires at least a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) in a specific field of study as a minimum requirement.
Permanent residents of Australia are not eligible for an E-3 visa. Only Australian citizens qualify.
E-3 visas may be granted for a maximum of two years at one time; however, there is no limit to the number of extensions a qualifying E-3 worker may be granted. E-3 visas require non-immigrant intent.
Spouses and children of E-3 employees may apply for E-3 Dependent (E-3D) visas. E-3 spouses are entitled to work in the United States with a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Upon admission to the United States in E-3 status, they may apply for an EAD through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Departments who may wish to hire or retain faculty and highly specialized scientific staff should complete the E-3 Employee Request e-forms in Sunapsis so the Office of International Services can determine whether E-3 eligibility criteria are met.
Acquiring E-3 status
If eligible, the OIS will either file a petition with USCIS or provide guidance on how to acquire the E-3 status overseas. Generally, if the employee is outside the United States, the OIS will review, complete, and submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once the LCA is certified, the Australian citizen then presents the necessary evidence to a U.S. consular officer to apply for an E-3 visa. The OIS will assist the sponsoring department to write a support letter, and this letter should be provided to the Australian citizen along with the Instructions to E-3 Employees. The instructions specify the list of documents the Australian citizen will need to apply for E-3 visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas. With an E-3 visa, the Australian citizen can then apply for admission to the U.S. in E-3 status at a U.S. port of entry.
If the Australian citizen is already inside the United States and has no plans for international travel, the OIS will submit a petition to the USCIS to obtain or extend their E-3 status. There is a $460 fee. The employee can then start to work at UMB once the E-3 petition is approved. Premium processing is not available for E-3 visa petitions. For this reason the OIS highly encourages Australian new hires to travel and re-enter in E-3 status.