The E3 visa is a United States work visa available exclusively to qualifying Australian citizens that offers unique advantages over other work visas, such as the H1B.
The E3 visa’s unlimited renewals allow U.S.-based employers to build long-lasting relationships with their Australian hires who relocate to the country. HR teams also enjoy shorter visa processing times and reduced costs.
E3 visa holders also receive numerous benefits, including the option to bring their spouses and children to the U.S., easy transitioning between employers, and a termination grace period.
Read on for a list of E3 visa eligibility criteria and a detailed outline of how this visa benefits U.S. companies and Australian talent. Also, find a list of required documents, a step-by-step guide for applying, and answers to commonly asked questions.
The E3 visa is available exclusively to Australian nationals with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience who have a job offer in the U.S. in a specialty occupation that pays at or above the prevailing wage for that position.
The E3 visa also includes the holder’s spouse and children under 21. The spouse and children do not have to be Australian citizens.
The E3 visa offers U.S. businesses and Australian employees many benefits, such as minimal application costs, faster processing time, unlimited renewals, and simplified transitions between employers.
Below we discuss each of the E3 visa benefits in detail.
Benefits for U.S. employers
- No lottery. Unlike other U.S. work visas, the E3 visa program is not restricted by an annual lottery, making it a viable option for employers year-round.
- Large quota. While the U.S. limits the number of E3 visas, it grants up to 10,500 annually, they generally only reach 50% of this quota each year, meaning that all eligible applicants receive approval.
- Direct application. Unlike with the H1B visa, E3 visa applicants do not have to file an I-129 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying.
- Low costs. The application cost for an E3 visa is minimal, particularly if a candidate submits their application directly through a U.S. Consulate, which costs US$315.
- Fast processing time. The E3 visa application process is relatively quick, often taking four to six weeks or 15 days via premium processing, offering a faster, more efficient route to securing top Australian talent.
- Unlimited renewals. The E3 visa features unlimited renewals, offering employers stability and longevity in their hires.
- Easy transitions between employers. Australian employees already residing in the U.S. on the E3 visa can switch employers while remaining in the country, further simplifying the process of hiring top Australian talent.
Benefits for Australian employees
- Spouse and children inclusion. The E3 visa’s most notable benefit to Australian employees is that spouses and children may join them, and spouses may work unrestricted in the U.S.
- Low costs. E3 visa application fees total US$315, whereas the H1B visa costs over US$1,000.
- Higher chances of visa approval. Most eligible applicants receive approval because the USCIS rarely meets the annual quota of 10,500 visas.
- Direct application. Candidates may submit their visa application directly to a U.S. Consulate without first submitting an I-129 petition to the USCIS.
- Fast processing time. Candidates receive a visa decision within five to seven days of submitting their application.
- Easy transitions between employers. E3 visa holders already residing and working in the U.S. enjoy a simplified process for switching between employers while remaining in the country.
- Termination grace period. Whether an employee voluntarily or involuntarily terminates their employment, they enjoy a 60-day grace period to find a new employer or change their status to visitor.
The E3 visa offers a simplified application procedure. However, candidates must still prepare several critical documents before they apply, including their job offer, Form ETA 9035, and academic credentials. We provide a general list of required documents below.
Required documents for U.S. employers
- Copy of Form ETA 9035. This form proves that the employer has LCA certification, indicating they could not find a suitable U.S. citizen for the position. It also confirms that the foreign national will receive a fair salary in the U.S. Employers must provide a copy of Form ETA 9035 to their employee to include with their visa application.
- Proof of the employee’s qualifications. This refers to either the employee’s bachelor’s diploma or documents confirming equivalent experience.
- Copy of the job offer. The offer must demonstrate that the employee’s position is in a specialty occupation.
- Copy of the original job posting. Employers must provide a copy of the initial job post listing the job description and responsibilities.
Required documents for Australian employees
- Application confirmation. At the interview, applicants must provide the confirmation page they receive after completing the online application form DS-160.
- Visa appointment letter. This document should confirm the date and time of the applicant’s visa appointment.
- Valid passport. The applicant’s passport must be valid for at least six months beyond their intended stay in the U.S. and include at least one blank page.
- Color photograph. Applicants must provide a physical 2 x 2 in. (5 x 5 cm) photograph taken within the last six months and a digital copy uploaded with the DS-160 application.
- Previously issued U.S. visas. This includes copies of and details from any of the applicant’s previously issued U.S. visas.
- Job offer. Applicants must provide the job offer from the employer confirming their qualifying position in a specialty occupation at the prevailing wage.
- Academic or qualifying credentials. Applicants must provide a certified copy of their degree or evidence of equivalent education and experience, such as licenses or letters from previous employers.
To apply for an E3 visa, the employer must first acquire LCA approval. After receiving LCA approval, the employee may collect all required documents and schedule a visa appointment with a local U.S. Consulate in their country of residence.
Below we outline each of the E3 visa application steps in detail.
Application steps for U.S. employers
File for a Labor Condition Application (LCA)
The U.S.-based employer must file Form ETA 9035 with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to acquire LCA approval for hiring an Australian national.
Filing for an LCA is free and takes 5 to 10 business days to process. If the DOJ rejects the application, the employer may appeal and amend the application.
Application steps for Australian employees
1. Complete Form DS-160
Upon receiving the LCA, the employee may complete the nonimmigrant visa application by filling out Form DS-160 online. If applying from within the U.S., they must first submit Form I-129 to the USCIS.
2. Pay the visa fee
Pay the E3 visa application fee of US$315 via the department’s online portal. Applicants must keep their receipts and bring them to their visa interview.
3. Schedule a visa interview
The applicant may then schedule a visa interview with a U.S. Consulate in the country where they reside, either online or through the department’s website or call center. After scheduling an interview, the applicant will receive a visa appointment letter which they must keep and bring to the interview.
4. Collect the required documents
Collect all of the required documents for the interview, including those in this list mentioned above.
5. Attend the visa interview
Attend the scheduled interview with a consulate official to answer several questions about the intended trip to the U.S.
6. Collect the visa
After completing the visa interview, it takes about three to five days for the consulate to make a decision. Once approved, the applicant must return to the consulate to collect their passport with the visa stamped inside.
Below you can find answers to frequently asked questions about the E3 visa.
Is an E3 visa better than an H1B visa?
The E3 visa is exclusively available to Australian nationals and offers significant advantages over the H1B visa regarding application cost, processing time, renewals, and dependant inclusion.
The application fee for the E3 visa is US$315, compared to the H1B visa cost of US$1,055. The E3 visa also includes the holder’s spouse and children and permits the spouse to legally work in the U.S. without further application processes.
Because the department usually does not reach the annual E3 visa quota each year, most eligible visa applicants receive approval.
Additionally, E3 visa holders enjoy unlimited visa renewals, whereas H1B visa holders must leave the U.S. after residing and working there for six years. E3 visa applicants also do not have to file an I-129 petition with the USCIS before applying.
Can an E3 visa lead to a green card?
The E3 visa does not lead to a green card and does not tolerate immigration intent, meaning that individuals may not apply for this visa with the intention of immigrating to the U.S.
However, E3 visa holders may apply for a green card after residing and working in the U.S. for several months by applying for an adjustment of status with the USCIS.
For how long is an E3 visa valid?
E3 visas are valid for two years and are eligible for unlimited renewals.
While the E3 visa streamlines immigration, relocating talent to the U.S. is a time-consuming process. Many businesses choose to expand their operations to the Australian market and hire local talent instead.
The Australian market offers U.S. companies numerous benefits, including economic stability, access to lucrative regional markets, and no language barrier.
Plus, by partnering with a global expansion expert, like an employer of record (EOR), companies can quickly establish themselves within the Australian market and begin hiring local talent right away—without undergoing entity establishment or risking non-compliance.
An EOR in Australia simplifies hiring, paying, and managing top local talent to give you the support you need while you grow your business.
Contact Velocity Global today to learn how to hire employees in Australia and more than 185 countries with speed and compliance.