The E-3 visa is available to citizens of Australia. The UW will sponsor E-3 status only for individuals eligible for H-1B sponsorship. Though the E-3 may occasionally be a useful alternative to the H-1B, the H-1B is often the better option. Before agreeing to sponsor a foreign national for E-3 status, please email International Scholars Advisors (ISO) to discuss.
The E-3 can be issued in increments of up to two years. Although the regulations do not limit the number of years that the E-3 may be used, E-3 is a nonimmigrant status which does not permit “dual intent” (intent to immigrate). The beneficiary must establish to the satisfaction of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the employment opportunity is both temporary and short-term. If the position is a permanent academic appointment leading to UW sponsored Permanent Residence the H-1B visa is the suitable visa alternative. The number of E-3 visas issued nationwide is limited to 10,500 per fiscal year, and institutions of higher education are subject to this E-3 quota limitation. Without exception, E-3 petitions based on an offer of UW employment must be processed through ISO on behalf of the Office of the Provost. Only the Provost-designee has authority to sign a Labor Condition Application or E-3 petition on behalf of the UW. Outside attorneys are not permitted to represent the UW’s interests in immigration matters. Anyone in a UW department who is asked to sign an employee-prepared or attorney-prepared E-3 petition should immediately contact email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The department may start the E-3 application process up to six months before the proposed employment will begin. Ample lead time is critical, especially if the E-3 petition is submitted for a beneficiary currently in the US who is applying for a change of status from another visa category. A beneficiary applying for change of status to E-3 cannot work or receive pay for services prior to receiving USCIS approval.
Read our page on How to Submit a Visa Request for an E-3 Permit.
E-3 change of status/extension petition to USCIS
When necessary, ISO prepares and mails to USCIS the Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, along with the Labor Condition Application and other supporting documentation. Without exception, E-3 petitions based on UW employment must be processed through ISO on behalf of the Provost. Family members file Form I-539 to change status or extend the E-3D.
If a change of status or extension petition is sent to USCIS, a Receipt Notice will be issued and sent to ISO within two to four weeks of receiving the petition. ISO forwards the I-797 Receipt Notice to the department. The Receipt Notice provides a file number which can be used to track the petition’s progress on the USCIS website. USCIS notifies ISO of the decision on the petition on Form I-797 Approval Notice. ISO forwards the I-797 Approval Notice to the department. The department attaches a copy of the I-797 to the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verficiation Form, gives the original full-page notice to the beneficiary, and retains a full-page photocopy for department records. The Approval Notice is an important document and should be carefully safeguarded. Obtaining a duplicate “original” Approval Notice can take several months.
E-3 visa application and admission to the US
If the E-3 is outside the US, he or she applies for an E-3 visa by presenting the ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application to the nearest US embassy or consulate. Accompanying dependents apply for E-3D visas. The beneficiary presents the Labor Condition Application and E-3 visa to the immigration officer at the US port of entry. Admission to the US will be for the validity period of the visa – up to two years – plus up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. The beneficiary may not be employed during these ten-day periods.