Recognizing important economic ties with Australia and the need for American employers to tap into its educated populace, a 2005 treaty included provision for a special class of work visas to facilitate entry of Australian citizens to work in the United States in professional positions. The annual allotment of up to 10,500 E-3 Australia visas is above and beyond the USCIS’ current cap of 65,000 on H-1B visas for professionals of any country plus an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for individuals with a U.S. masters or higher degree.
On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief of 2005. The Act contains a number of important immigration-related provisions, including a new E-3 non-immigrant visa category for certain Australian professionals.
Applicants must be hired for a “specialty occupation,” under the same definition for H-1B professionals – the position must require theoretical or practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent. Qualification requires the sponsored employee to:
The U.S. employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor as a requirement for sponsoring an individual for an E-3 visa. The Shapiro Law Group advises corporate clients on the necessary documentation and any legal barriers to approval.
Australian citizens granted E-3 work visas are initially allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to two years. This period of work authorization may be renewed in two-year increments, and E-3 visas are “indefinitely renewable.”
Applications for the E-3 Australia visa are made at an American Consulate located in Australia, after the USDOL approves the American employer’s LCA.
The husband or wife of an E-3 non-immigrant is permitted to apply for employment authorization, since the provisions that permit spouse employment authorization apply equally to all visas in the E category. However, employment authorization is not available to children of E-3 sponsored employees.
Up to 10,500 E-3 visas will be available to Australian professionals each fiscal year. (Spouses and dependent children of E-3 visa holders are exempted from the annual limitation.) Note that the annual 10,500 limitations is completely separate from the annual 58,200 limitation on H-1B professionals and the 20,000 H-1B visa numbers available to foreign nationals who have earned a master’s or higher degrees from U.S. universities.
The Shapiro Law Group stands ready to assist American employers in processing E visas and discuss requirements or known obstacles. You can reach our immigration attorneys online or call us at (847) 564-0712. We will promptly respond to your inquiry and arrange a consultation at your convenience.