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The E-3 visa classification was established by the REAL ID Act of 2005.  It allows for the admission of Australian nationals entering the U.S. to perform work in the “specialty occupation” category.  Nonimmigrant Australian aliens who are already legally in the U.S. may change and extend their status in this category.

Guidelines recently issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) specify the requirements and documentation needed for those interested in either changing their nonimmigrant status to E-3 or extending their E-3 status.

The qualifications for E-3 classification include: the alien is an Australian national who is seeking employment in a specialty occupation and the alien possesses a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent), as well as the appropriate degree (or its equivalent) in the field in which the alien wishes to work.  E-3 status is initially granted for a period of up to two (2) years and extensions are permitted in two (2) year increments that are indefinite.  One of the advantages of E-3 status is that it allows for the dependent spouse of the E-3 worker to receive work authorization.

The yearly cap for those in E-3 status is 10,500.  This cap applies to “new workers,”  defined as “those who are coming from abroad, [and] are admitted initially in E-3 classification or those who change their nonimmigrant status to [the] E-3 classification or change employers while in E-3 status” (USCIS January 6, 2006 Press Release).

Standard procedure for those in the U.S. and seeking E-3 status will be to request a change of status or extension of status through filing a Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker).  Currently, the cost for filing this petition is USD 190.00, but this fee is subject to change at any time.  Additional documents are required when filing the Form I-129.  These include:

    • Proof of Australian nationality;
    • A support letter from the prospective U.S. employer;
    • Evidence that the alien meets the educational requirements for the position;
    • Evidence that the alien meets any licensing or other occupational requirements; and
  • Evidence that a labor condition application (LCA) specifically designated for E-3 Specialty Occupations has been filed with the Department of Labor.

It should also be noted that an Australian alien seeking to be admitted in E-3 nonimmigrant classification at a U.S. Port-of-Entry must possess a valid E-3 visa issued by the U.S. Department of State.

Disclosure: This Immigration Law Alert is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as or provide specific legal advice regarding a particular matter. Should you have specific questions regarding an immigration matter, please contact Senior Attorney or Susan L. Riddle, Esq., or Associate Cathy C. Prusinski, Esq., Yormick & Associates, Co., L.P.A., T: +1.216.928.3474, F: +1.216.566.0857, e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected].

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