What is an E-3 Specialty Occupation Visa?

The E-3 visa is a non-immigrant visa. It is designed to allow US employers to recruit and employ Australian professionals in specialty occupations within the US.

Do I qualify for E-3 Specialty Occupation Status?

The main criteria for entry under the E-3 specialty occupation visa category are that you:

  • Are in a “specialty occupation”;
  • Are an Australian citizen;
  • Have a US petitioning employer who, inter alia, offers remuneration equal to or more than the prevailing wage or actual wage rate within the relevant state and profession; and
  • Have an offer of employment in a permanent position.

What is a Specialty Occupation?

A “specialty occupation” is defined as one requiring “theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge”, combined with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. It is not enough to hold a bachelor’s degree in a specialized area; your proposed employment must require such a degree or its equivalent in order to meet the criteria.

What occupations may qualify for an E-3 visa?

Specialty occupations include, but are certainly not limited to: lawyers, accountants, doctors, teachers, pharmacists, social workers, engineers and architects.

What are the benefits associated with E-3 visas?
  • Spouses are eligible for employment authorization – they may accept work at any work place (with exceptions including any job that requires you to be a US citizen)
  • Continuously renewable;
  • Low filing fees;
  • Faster processing times without having to pay exorbitant premium processing fees.

What is the cap/quota for E-3?

There are 10,500 visas available in this category each year. This limit, however, unlike H-1B, has thus far never been reached. Your ability to obtain such a visa therefore falls entirely on the merits of your case, rather than the added difficulty associated with H-1B of complete over-subscription which results in a lottery effect.

For how long are E-3 visas approved?

Your E-3 visa will generally be approved for 2 years. However, unlike the H-1B visa, you may extend for 2 year-long periods. There is no maximum number of extensions, subject to a few exceptions.


Can I bring my spouse and children?

Your spouse and children under the age of 21 years may apply at the relevant embassy or consulate for derivative E-3 visas based on their relationship with you, the principal E-3 visa holder.

What is labor certification?

US employers obtain a document from the Department of Labor attesting to a number of matters that are central to an E-3 application. These include:

  • The proposed E-3 employee is to be paid the higher of the prevailing wage rate and the actual wage rate, along with being afforded the same benefits as their US citizen colleagues;
  • Working conditions will not adversely impact the working conditions of workers similarly employed; and
  • That there are no issues at the place of work e.g. strike, lockout, work stoppage.