Applying for an E3 Visa USA from the UK
If you are an Australian national looking to travel to the United States from the UK to undertake a new job role, you may need to apply for an “E3 Visa USA”.
The following guide looks at the eligibility criteria for an E3 Visa USA, the procedure for filing a petition, applying for your visa from the UK Embassy and what documentation will be needed in support.
What are the eligibility criteria for an E3 Visa USA?
The E3 classification in the United States only applies to nationals of Australia, their spouses and children under the age of 21. Furthermore, as the principal applicant you must be travelling to the USA solely to perform services in what’s known as a specialty occupation.
To qualify as a specialty occupation this will require the theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in a professional field, as well as the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation.
As a general guide, to establish equivalency of a university degree, 3 years of professional experience is usually used as a substitute for each year of university-level education. As such, you would need to show 12 years’ experience in the field you are applying to work in.
Further, it is not enough that an applicant for an E3 Visa USA holds a particular degree, whereby the job itself must also require a bachelor-level or higher qualification.
Accordingly, to qualify for an E3 Visa USA, you must satisfy all of the following eligibility criteria, namely:
- You are a national of Australia, although the spouse or child(ren) of the principal applicant need not be Australian citizens
- You possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials to fill a speciality occupation role in the United States
- You will fill a role that qualifies as a specialty occupation, and have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States.
Will my employer need to file a petition?
To apply for an E3 Visa USA, your prospective US employer will first need to file a petition on your behalf with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
When filing Form I-129 with USCIS, there are various documents that must be submitted in support of that petition. These include the following:
- A certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the United States Department of Labor (DOL)
- Documentary evidence of your academic or other credentials demonstrating qualifications for the speciality occupation role in question.
- A formal job offer letter or other documentation from your employer establishing that you will be engaged in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage.
- If required, before you may commence employment in the specialty occupation, you must have the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation.
The LCA refers to an application filed with the DOL by prospective employers on behalf of workers applying for work authorisation for various non-immigrant statuses, including the E3 Visa USA status.
This requires the employer to attest to certain labor conditions to which it will adhere, as well as declaring the job title, rate of pay, period of employment, and length and location of work of the non-immigrant employee in question.
The LCA must be certified by the DOL and submitted with Form I-129 in order for the E3 Visa USA petition to be approved by USCIS. Please note, until the DOL develops a new LCA for an E3 Visa USA, your employer should use the standard ETA-9035 and ask that it be annotated as an E3 LCA.
What is the process of applying for an E3 Visa USA from the UK?
In the event that your I-129 petition is approved by USCIS, your employer will be sent Form I-797, Notice of Action. A Form I-797 approval notice is not a visa, rather this is simply the form that you will require to enable you to apply for a visa from a US Embassy or Consulate overseas, typically your country of residence abroad, including the UK.
There are several steps involved in the E3 Visa USA application process. The order of these steps can vary depending on which Embassy or Consulate you apply. For the UK Embassy, you will need to complete the online visa application using Form DS-160, which includes uploading a photo in the relevant format. You will also need to pay the non-refundable visa application fee and schedule an interview.
Typically, you must schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. Although you may schedule your interview at any US Embassy or Consulate, it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence. As such, if you live in the UK you should schedule your interview at the US Embassy in London.
When you attend your interview you should bring with you various documents, including the following:
- A print-off of the confirmation page for Form DS-160
- A print-off of the appointment confirmation page
- Your passport or other travel document. This must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay in the United States
- A 5 x 5cm (2”x2”) colour photograph taken within the last 6 months, unless you have already successfully uploaded a photograph with your online application
- Documentary evidence of your status in the UK if you are not a UK or EU passport holder
- Documentary evidence of previously issued US visas
- A job offer letter or other documentation from your employer establishing that upon entry to the United States you will be engaged in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage
- The approved LCA specified for E3 Australia
- Documentary evidence of your academic or other qualifying credentials
- A certified copy of any required licence or other official permission required to practice in the speciality occupation in question.
In the event that a US license or other official permission is required to perform the duties described in the petition, but such permission or license is not available prior to entry into the United States, you must be able to show that you will obtain such licensure within a reasonable period of time following admission to the USA.
You may also need to provide additional documentation if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted, or if you have a medical condition that could affect your eligibility for a visa, or if you have ever been denied entry into or deported from the United States.
Finally, if you are seeking to establish degree equivalency for a speciality occupation, you should be prepared to provide documentation during the course of your interview outlining your work history, education and training.
The consular officer at the UK Embassy conducting your interview will determine whether the educational and employment information provided meets the eligibility requirements for an E3 Visa USA, in addition to the other matters set out above.
NNU Immigration are specialists in US work visas, including the E3 visa applications. We can also help where you are starting a new job in the US with a new employer, as a new LCA and E3 visa will be needed. Contact us for professional support with your E3 visa application.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.