This is a special visa category recently set up for Australian professionals looking to work temporarily in the US. It is a great visa category for Australians looking to bypass the long queue and the lottery surrounding the more popular and ever constricted H1-B visas. 10,500 E-3 visas are alloted per fiscal year and they have yet to exhaust this number at any year, so there are plenty to go around.
Some things to note about the E-3 visa:
- Like the H1-B, one must have a job offer from a US employer in a specialized occupation (the specialty occupation designation is the same as the H1-B) and possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
- You have to be an Australian National (not just in Australia).
- If you’re already in the United States on another valid visa, it is possible to change your status to an E-3 visa.
- Unlike the H1-B (six years maximum normally), there is no prohibition on the length of the E-3 visa — it can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the requirements of the E-3 visa are met.
- Another advantage of the E-3, is that E-3 visa holder’s spouses can obtain work authorization, unlike H-4s who are not allowed to work.
- The major disadvantage that comes up is the dual intent issue. With H1-Bs, it is commonly understood that the visa is can be used to gain permanent residency later on and it’s not just a non-immigrant visa. The E-3 is a non-immigrant visa, meaning one shouldn’t have the intention of settling permanently in the US. However, there is no foreign residency requirement either — meaning that one doesn’t have to prove strong ties to the homeland in order to be approved. A simple statement attesting an intent to return to Australia should suffice. E-3 visa holders, like other E visa holders should be able to stay a long time and if circumstances change, move onto immigrant visa.