E-3 A New Visa Category for Australian Workers

Section 501 of the Real ID Act of 2005 (H.R. 1268) which was signed into law on May 11, 2005 provides for a new temporary visa category for nationals of Australia. Under the new E-2 visa category, which mirrors to a great extent the H-1B visa category, there are 10,500 visas per fiscal year for nationals of the Commonwealth of Australia who have a job offer from a US employer in a “specialty occupation.”

“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. This is the same definition as used to qualify H-1B visa applicants.

The US employer will have to offer at least prevailing wages for the job and file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor.

Unlike the H-1B visa though, the time limits for the new E-3 visa are like the ones for E-1 and E-2 visas and can be renewed indefinitely. Furthermore, spouses of E visa holders can apply for independent work authorization.

Since this law is new, we do not yet have guidance how to apply for this visa. It should be possible though to apply for this visa directly at the US consulate without the necessity of first obtaining USCIS approval.

For more information, please contact us.

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