E-3 Visa – Australian Specialty Occupation

E-3 is a nonimmigrant status for Australian citizens coming to temporarily work in the US in specialty occupations.

A specialty occupation requires specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

E-3 status can be initially valid for up to 2 years and is extendable in 2-year increments.

Contact ICS at HR-ICS@ufl.edu for additional questions.


E-3 status is available to eligible Australian international employees in specialty occupations requiring a bachelor’s or higher-level degree.

No minimum FTE required for E-3 sponsorship.


  • The job must require at least a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent).
  • The candidate must have a specialized degree or its equivalent.

Positions that don’t qualify for E-3 sponsorship include:

  • Jobs that allow an equivalent combination of experience/training/education instead of a bachelor’s degree.
  • Jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field.

Types of Cases

Consular Processing

E-3 status can be obtained without filing a petition with USCIS. No USCIS filing fees.

The international employee applies for the E-3 visa stamp at a US Consulate/Embassy abroad with the support letter, LCA, and other required documents. They enter the US as early as 10 days before the start date.

Change of Status

Changing to E-3 within the US is possible but not recommended due to no Premium Processing option. The employee can work once approval is received.

Employees under another status (e.g., J-1 or F-1 OPT) can work under that status until E-3 is approved or the other status ends.

If the international employee is subject to the Two-Year Home Residency Requirement, they must obtain a waiver.


E-3 status can be extended in 2-year increments with no maximum limits. File for an extension up to 6 months before expiration.


Consult with ICS before changing any terms of E-3 employment. If an amendment is required, work can begin once submitted to USCIS and the start date has passed.

Change of Employer

To hire someone already in E-3 status, file a change of employer petition with USCIS.

There’s a 60-day grace period for those terminated before E-3 expires, allowing time to extend, change status, or prepare to depart the US.

Process & Timeline

Step 1: Department completes and submits case initiation in Fragomen Portal

The department will be responsible for gathering all the information and documentation and initiating the case in the Fragomen Connect Portal.

Step 2: ICS Review and analysis of case initiation questionnaire (1 to 2 weeks)

ICS will perform a review of the information and documentation provided. We will reach out to the department with any questions. Once the application is complete, ICS approves and submits the questionnaire to Fragomen.

Step 3: Prevailing Wage Determination (5+ months)

The Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require UF to pay an international employee the Prevailing Wage or Actual wage, whichever one is the higher salary. UF uses various wage sources depending on the specifics of each case. Most common is the Prevailing Wage Determination that is submitted with the Department of Labor (DOL PWD), and Occupational Employment Statistic wage (OES PWD).

For Change of Status, Change of Employer and Consular Processing cases that have start dates less than 8 months from the time of case initiation may be required to complete the Non-Certified PW Acknowledgment Form, also known as the OES Memo.

Step 4: LCA Posting (2 weeks)

In conjunction with Fragomen, ICS will post the “Notice of Filing of a Labor Condition Application”. The LCA must be posted for 10 consecutive business days (excluding weekends, holidays, or days UF is closed)

ICS will provide the Posting Notice to the Department to physically post at any non-UF sites. The Department will have to provide a copy of the posting to ICS after the posting period.

This step may take longer since Fragomen does prepare applications based on start date/expiration date.

Step 5: LCA filed with Department of Labor (1 week)

Once ICS verifies the Notice of Filing was posted, Fragomen will submit the LCA to the Department of Labor for official certification.

Step 6: Preparation of the E-3 Petition (2 to 3 weeks)

Once the LCA is certified, Fragomen will prepare the USCIS filing to Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and supporting documents.

If filing with USCIS, ICS reviews and signs the petition and returns to Fragomen for filing. If consulate processing, ICS notifies the department to pick up the original LCA and forwards the support letter to them for signature and to provide to the international employee.

Step 7: USCIS Processes E-3 (8 months to 12 months) / Consulate Processing

The current processing times for E-3 petitions 8 to 12 months. USCIS does post processing time information on their website, but that may not always be the most up to date information. E-3 petitions are not eligible to be filed under the Premium Processing service.

Consulate Processing

The current processing times for E-3 petitions will vary.

Each US Consulate/Embassy has their own set of requirements for processing a non-immigrant visa application. All non-immigrant visa applicants will need to complete Form DS-160, the online application for a nonimmigrant visa).

Please go to the respective U.S. Consulate/Embassy’s website for information on the requirements. Make sure to follow all of the instructions.

The international employee may need to provide the following documentary evidence with their application for an E-3 Visa:

  • An approved Labor Condition Application (LCA), which the U.S. employer obtains from the Department of Labor. The international employee is advised not to book an interview appointment until they have received this form.
  • Evidence of academic or other qualifying credentials and a job offer letter from the employer.
  • If their degree and higher-level qualifications are from an Australian institution, the international employee does not usually need to provide certified copies or evidence of their U.S. equivalent but must bring to their visa interview a copy of any certificates, and if possible, transcripts for the course of study. If their qualification(s) are not from an Australian institution, a certified copy of the foreign degree and evidence that it is equivalent to the required U.S. degree could be used to satisfy the “qualifying credentials” requirement, but the international employee may prefer to wait until their visa interview to confirm whether this is necessary. The international employee should take a copy of any certificates and transcripts to their visa interview, and if it is also necessary to produce certified copies of certificates and evidence of U.S. equivalence, they can send these to the Consulate after the interview, although their visa will not be approved until this is received. Likewise, a certified copy of a U.S. baccalaureate or higher degree, as required by the specialty occupation, would meet the minimum evidentiary standard.
  • A certified copy of any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation in the state of intended employment or, where licensure is not necessary to commence immediately the intended specialty occupation employment upon admission, evidence that the international employee will be obtaining the required license within a reasonable time after admission.
  • A Self-Addressed Express Post Prepaid Satchel (Plastic Envelope) from Australia Post.

This MUST be provided for the return of the international employee’s passport and U.S. visa. Paper envelopes from Australia Post, and envelopes/satchels from courier services/companies other than Australia Post will not be accepted. It is suggested that the international employee take a photo with their phone of the tracking number on the prepaid satchel for any future inquiries and for their records.

Step 8: Approval Notice (1 to 2 weeks) / Visa Stamp (1 to 2 weeks) USCIS Filing

The original approval notices are sent from USCIS to Fragomen. Fragomen notifies ICS when they receive the notice as well as forwarding the original notice to our office. Once ICS receives the approval notices, we email the department with information on collecting the original notice.

Consulate Processing

It is up to the discretion of the consular officer whether to approve the E-3 visa or not. If approved, the international employee’s passport will be returned to them by the US Consular/Embassy with a E-3 visa stamp.

The international employee will not be in valid E-3 status until entering the US and presenting their passport containing the E-3 visa stamp. International employees may enter the US as early as 10 days prior to the approved start date.


Consulate Processing filing fees
  • E-3 Filing Fee (required)
Fragomen legal fees
  • $1,000 Fragomen legal fee for case processing
  • Request for Evidence response fees determined at the time of RFE
  • Additional Rush fees for cases submitted with less than a certain number of days until the requested start date.
USCIS filing fees
  • E-3 Filing Fee (required)
Additional service provided

Fragomen can advance the filing fees for a department with an additional $100 processing fee. For detailed fee information, refer to the ICS Fees and Rush Chart.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can an international employee be in an E-3 status?

There is no maximum amount of time an international employee can be in E-3 status. E-3 status is initially valid for up to 2 years and can be extended in up to 2-year increments.

How soon after filing an E-3 petition with USCIS can an international employee start to work?

Change of Status inside the US: The international employee can begin working on E-3 status once the department has the approval notice and the start date has occurred. If they are currently working at UF under another status (J-1 or F-1 OPT), they can continue to work under that status until the E-3 status is approved or until that other status ends, whichever occurs FIRST.

Change of Employer inside the US: UF must file a petition for a change of employer with USCIS. The international employee can begin working at UF once the department has the approval notice in hand and the start date as occurred.

Amendment inside the US: If the international employee is changing employment conditions, they may begin work once Fragomen submits the petition to USCIS, and the requested start date has occurred.

What if the international employee’s job responsibilities change or they have to switch from one job location to another?

If the international employee has a material change in job responsibilities or a change in job location outside of their geographical area, UF will need to file an amended E-3 petition on their behalf. Any change in job location or job duties should be brought to the attention of their department liaison before accepting the change in employment. The amendment will need to be filed with USCIS or processed through the international employee’s home country before any changes in their employment. If processed inside the US, the international employee can begin the new working conditions once the petition is submitted to USCIS and the requested start date has occurred.

How is E-3 status extended?

E-3 extensions can be filed with USCIS up to 6 months before the expiration date of the current E-3 status. If an extension application is filed before the current authorized stay expires, the international employee may be eligible for continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending.

Can an international employee continue working if their E-3 Extension has not been approved by the time their current E-3 expires?

If an extension application is filed before the current authorized stay expires, the international employee may be eligible for continuous work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending.

How does an international employee or department check the status of a case after it has been filed with USCIS?

Check the case status using USCIS’s online Case Status tool. Case Status Online

When will the international employee receive their I-797 Approval Notice?

Once USCIS approves the international employee’s petition, they will forward the I-797 Approval Notice to Fragomen. Please note that it can take several days to weeks for USCIS to mail the approval notice to Fragomen. Once Fragomen receives the approval notice, they will prepare an approval packet and send it to ICS via FedEx. Once received, ICS will notify the department to pick up the original approval notice. The department will then forward the approval notice to the international employee.

When should the department request the filing fee checks?

Request the checks no earlier than 6 months before the desired start date, as checks are only valid for 6 months.

Who are the filing fee checks made out to?

The filing fee checks should be made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The E-3 extension petition is filed under regular processing. Can an international employee travel internationally?

After the current E-3 expiration date, the international employee can only travel abroad and re-enter the U.S. after they receive the E-3 extension approval notice. UF may file the E-3 Extension under Regular Filing because premium processing is not needed for extension cases. The international employee can continue employment for up to 240 days while their extension petition is pending. It takes at least 8 months for Fragomen to receive the approval notice from USCIS under regular processing. In addition, the E-3 Petition can be filed no earlier than 6 months before the requested start date.

There is a possibility of upgrading the petition to include Premium Processing. The department must pay this fee ($2,500) if it is needed for employment purposes, such as work-related travel. Otherwise, the international employee can pay this fee for personal reasons. There would be legal fees for upgrading the petition as well.

Can an international employee get paid for outside conferences and complete work outside of their E-3?

An E-3 employee is not permitted to accept payment for any activity or services rendered outside of the approved E-3 employment. They are permitted to receive reimbursement for travel expenses and living expenses associated with an activity. The international employee should keep a list detailing the expenses and how the money was applied in case they must prove that 100% of the funds went towards travel and associated expenses related to this outside activity.

Can an international employee pursue green card while on E-3?

Yes, an international employee can apply for permanent residency while on E-3, as E-3 allows for dual intent.

Can an E-3 dependent work?

Yes, E-3 dependents (spouses) may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS. Once approved, they can work for any employer in the U.S.

Can an E-3 dependent volunteer?

Yes, E-3 dependents can volunteer in the U.S., provided that the activity does not constitute employment and they are not compensated for their services.

Can an E-3 dependent attend school?

Yes, E-3 dependents can attend school in the U.S.

How long can a dependent child be in E-3D status?

An unmarried child can be in E-3D status as long as they are under 21 and their parent maintains E-3 status.