E-3 Professional Status for Australian Citizens

Sydney Opera House at sunset

E-3 Overview

The E-3 classification is designed for Australian nationals to work in the U.S. in a “specialty occupation” under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. A specialty occupation is one that requires a specialized body of knowledge and the attainment of a college degree.  All UC Davis Departments who wish to use this category should download the E-3 package.

E-3 workers are granted status initially for two years at a time, with an unlimited number of extensions.

Why the E-3?

E-3 visas obtained at a U.S consulate abroad do not require any government filing within the U.S.  This substantially cuts down on the paperwork for the hiring department.  Also, there are no USCIS filing fees if the visa is obtained directly from abroad.

Another considerable benefit of the E-3 category is the opportunity for dependents (E-3Ds) to apply for work authorization within the United States.  Work authorization can be obtained for the duration of the primary beneficiary’s (the E-3’s) stay. This is not a benefit for H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders. 

Department Responsibility

The E-3 petition is a University application that requires UC Davis certification to the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Therefore, it is the responsibility of the employing department rather than the individual scholar to prepare this petition and supporting materials.  These application materials should not be completed by the individual worker on his or her own behalf, except perhaps the forms completed on behalf of dependent family members.

How to Apply

There are two ways to apply for an E-3 —within or outside of the U.S.

1. From Australia or Another Country:

The scholar will need a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) completed by SISS and an employer support letter to apply for an E-3 visa.  He/she would take this document along with a resume, copies of the highest degree in a specialty occupation and an Australian passport to the embassy.

2. From Within the U.S.:

To apply for an E-3 Change or Extension of status from within the U.S., the employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and supporting documents with the USCIS. UC Davis departments should work with the scholar directly to prepare the required documents to forward to SISS for review and processing.
Note: there is no Premium Processing service for cases filed within the U.S.

Processing Steps 

  • Submit a prevailing wage request to the dedicated email box listed on the sheet inside the E-3 package.  Include the link to the salary scale.
  • Wait for an email confirmation from SISS that the wage has passed.
  • Post the Notice of Intent to file an LCA (form C) and submit the entire package (with filing fees for cases filed in the U.S.) to SISS.  Note: you do not need to post Form C if the position is under a collective bargaining unit but the form C should still be sent to SISS. 
  • SISS reviews the package for any missing information and contacts the department if needed.
  • For consular processing cases —SISS will prepare a package to be sent abroad to the scholar to apply for a visa.
  • For cases filed within the U.S. —SISS prepares the application for filing with the USCIS and tracks receipt and approval notification.
  • Once approved, the USCIS will send SISS an approval notice with attached I-94 record.

Processing time from the time a complete request is received at SISS is approximately 3-4 months.

Note:  The E-3 status (unlike the H-1B) is a non- “dual intent” visa category.  As such, the intent of the scholar must be to come to the U.S. temporarily and then return home.  Therefore, scholars using an E-3 status at UC Davis should not have the intent to immigrate (apply for a green card).  

If the scholar is applying for a visa abroad, he or she may be asked by the U.S. Embassy abroad to show permanent ties to Australia.


For all forms, please go to the Department section of the Resources and Forms tab.