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The New E-3 Visa for Australians – FAQs

by Gregory Siskind

Congress has created a new work visa category for Australians that in many respects will make it one of the most attractive visas in US immigration law. The new law will largely take Australians out of the H-1B quota (which has a long queue right now) and offer them a visa that is similar, but more flexible than the H-1B. It also has some of the elements of an E treaty visa and can be viewed as a hybrid that should be highly useful to Australian nationals seeking work in the US.

What is the new E-3 visa?

Section 501 of the Real ID Act of 2005 has made a change to the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow for a new category of E treaty visa. This change creates a new INA Section, Section 101(a)(15)(E)(iii), which allows for the admission of an alien who is a national of the Commonwealth of Australia, and who is entering to perform services in a "specialty occupation."

What is a specialty occupation?

The term "specialty occupation" means an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States. The definition is the same as the Immigration and Nationality Act definition of an H-1B “specialty occupation.”

What is required of petitioning employers?

The petitioning employer will be required to file a Labor Condition Application with the Secretary of Labor as required under Section 212(t)(1). The process for this should be virtually identical to the process currently used with H-1Bs. Employers must also file labor condition applications like in H-1B cases and make the same attestations including those regarding paying the prevailing and actual wages, not breaking up strikes, maintaining public access files, etc.

Is there a limit on the number of E-3 visas that will be issued?

The number of E-3 visas that will be issued will be limited to 10,500 per fiscal year. The spouse and children of the E-3 are allowed to accompany or follow to join the principal, and such spouses and children will not count against the 10,500 cap.

What are the time limits on E-3s?

E-3 I-94 time limits are the same as E-1 and E-2 visas (as opposed to H-1Bs). More significant, however, is that they can be renewed indefinitely.

Can spouses of E-3s work?

Unlike H-4s, spouses of E visa holders are entitled to work authorization.

Can I convert from H-1B to E-3 status?

The statute does not bar this and it should be possible to change from H-1B to E-3 status.

When can I file for an E-3?

In theory, applications can be submitted immediately as implementing regulations are not required. In practice, USCIS may not adjudicate these cases until they have at least established guidelines.

Interestingly, one might simply apply for an E-3 at a consulate and bypass USCIS. The applicant would need to present an LCA and the other documents required above, but USCIS should not have to approve it in advance. This would mean that E-3 applicants can secure visas within days of applying and be in the US quickly.

We will have to wait and see what USCIS and DOS announce, however.

Is the E-3 a dual intent visa?

They are not dual intent in the sense of H-1Bs and L-1s, but they do not have a foreign residence requirement. Applicants need to attest that they intend to depart when their status terminates. A statement is usually enough unless they have clear intentions showing the opposite. But there is case law stating that the expression of a desire to remain in the US permanently as opposed to intending to remain even if legally not permitted, is permissible on an E visa. In other words, wanting to remain permanently is okay as long as one is willing to leave if this is not permitted by law.

E visa applicants also need not demonstrate that they are coming for a limited period of time and they do not need to show a home in their home country to which they plan to return. This would be impractical given the fact that E visa holders can remain in the US for decades.

About The Author

Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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