The Australian Special Occupation Visa also referred to as an E3 visa was established in US law on May 11, 2005 and provides an additional opportunity for employment in the United States for Australian citizens.
The E3 category permits up to 10,500 Australians each fiscal year to enter the United States "solely to perform services in a specialty occupation in the United States. If the alien is a national of the Commonwealth of Australia" and files a labor attestation (labor condition application 'LCA'). The E3 is similar to the H1B specialty occupation visa but has separate benefits and requirements. For instance, unlike the H1B, the spouse of an E3 status holder may work in the United States. Also, the 'filing fees' for the E3 are significantly less than those of the H1B as the special fees required for the H1B are not required for the E3.
In order for a national of Australia to qualify for the E3 visa, the applicant must demonstrate that they satisfy the 'specialty occupation' requirements. These are the same requirements needed for the H1B. If a license or permission to practice in the specialty occupation is required, evidence must be submitted that the applicant will meet the requirements if it is not required to immediately practice in the occupation. Included in the H1B, but excluded from the E3 are fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.
The LCA must be submitted with the application. The LCA is the same for the E3 as it is for the H1B. Also to be presented with the application our academic or other credentials demonstrating qualification for the position, a job offer, or other documentation from the employer establishing the prospective employee will be engaged in a specialty occupation and will be the prevailing wage or higher. The applicant must demonstrate that they intend to depart the United States at the conclusion of the E3 status. Application is made for the E3 at the US consulate outside the United States or if in United States to the US CIS at the Vermont Service Center.
The E3 may be admitted initially for a period not to exceed the validity of the LCA and the normal term that is granted is for a period of 2 years. Extensions may be granted indefinitely as opposed to the maximum of 6 years for the H1B. Extension increments may not exceed the term of the LCA.
The cap of 10,500 visas per year, does not apply to E3 extensions as long as the applicant is with the same employer that had been named in the original application or petition. Dependent family members are not counted under the Cap.
Family members of the principal alien received the same visa classification of E3. They do not need to be Australian nationals and are not subject to the 10,500 visa limitation. After arrival in United States or after the principal has been granted a change to E3 the spouse may make application for employment authorization with the CIS in the Vermont Service Center. The employment application normally takes about 90 days for the spouse. In the event the spouse is battered by the principal, the spouse is independently eligible for work authorization.