E3 Visa for Australians
The US Congress brought good news to many Australians when it announced in early May 2005 that it would designate 10,500 newly created E-3 visas just for Australians.
This removes Australians from the H-1B quota and offers them a visa that is similar, but more flexible. It has some of the elements of an E treaty visa and should be very useful to Australian nationals seeking work in the US.
Who is eligible
The E-3 visa is for nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia who wish to enter the US to perform services in 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.
Spouses of E-3 visa holders are entitled to work authorization.
The petitioning employer will be required to file a Labor Condition Application with the Secretary of Labor. The process for this should be nearly the same as 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.
Annual limits on E-3 visas
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, and they won't count against the 10,500 cap. Spouses are also allowed to work in the US.
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), or between two and five years. More significant, however, is that they can be renewed indefinitely.
Filing and costs
Theoretically, applications can be submitted immediately as implementing regulations are not required. In practice, however, USCIS may not adjudicate these cases until they have at least established guidelines.
The information on the cost of the E-3 visa is not yet available.
The information provided on the E-3 visa is very new. workpermit.com will bring you updates as more information becomes available.