E-3 Australians

E-3 Australian Professionals in Specialty Occupations

How is E-3 Processing Handled at USC?

E-3 status is used at USC for degreed professionals in specialty fields, where the university wants to employ the person for several years.  How we handle E-3 sponsorship is informed by both Federal regulations and USC’s internal institutional policies and systems.

At USC, all E-3 requests must be submitted by the department to FSVS.

The USC Job Offered Must Qualify for E-3 Status

  • Must be Listed in the USC Job Codes or the Faculty Handbook:  USC job codes can be found here:  HR Division – Job Codes List.  The latest Faculty Handbook can be found here:  USC Faculty Handbook.
  • Must Meet the Minimum Education Requirement: Per Federal regulations, the job offered must require a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and must require that the degree be earned in a specific field, or closely related group of fields (e.g. must require Electrical Engineering or Computer Science, not Electrical Engineering or Business).
  • Must Pay the Required E-3 Wage:  The E-3 wage will be analyzed by FSVS once the completed request is received.  The regulations require the department to pay either the “actual wage” paid to similar positions in the department or the “prevailing wage” established by U.S. Department of Labor Data, whichever is higher.
  • Must be Fully Benefits-Eligible:  The position must be eligible for full, regular USC benefits for faculty and staff.
  • Must be full-time.

The Person Must Qualify for E-3 Status

The individual must be an Australian national.  Additionally, they must possess the minimum education and experience required for the E-3 job, and have no background issues that would prevent them taking up E-3 status.

Duration:  E-3 status can be requested for up to two years at a time.

E-3 Processing Times at USC

Requests are submitted by the department to FSVS.  Processing cannot begin until all of the required information and materials are complete.  We advise departments to submit to FSVS a full 6 months prior to the needed start date.  Later submissions carry an increasing risk that the need cannot be met.

Total processing time varies, depending on the factors each case presents.  A projected processing timeline will be sent to the individual and the department when processing begins.

There are two processing paths for E-3 status:

Consular Processing

Can be used where the individual is waiting outside the USA to enter in E-3 Status.

  • Stage 1: FSVS Processing:  Approximately 6 weeks from time request materials are complete.  Specific case issues may require additional processing, for example to obtain a prevailing wage, an Export Control determination, or address other issues. This can delay processing from 2 weeks to 3+ months.  Every effort is made to spot issues early in processing, so that they can be factored in to the estimated timeline for the individual case.
  • Stage 2: Consular Processing:  Varies.  Typically 2 to 4 weeks, depending on speed at the U.S. Consulate.  The department will forward the E-3 request documentation prepared by FSVS to the individual at their home address in Australia via secure courier.  They can then apply for an E-3 visa at their nearest U.S. Consulate and enter the USA.

USCIS Processing

Can be used where the person is already in the USA and does not wish to return to Australia for Consular Processing.

  • Stage 1: FSVS Processing:  Approximately 6 weeks from time request materials are complete.  Specific case issues may require additional processing, for example to obtain a prevailing wage, an Export Control determination, or address other issues. This can delay processing from 2 weeks to 3+ months.  Every effort is made to spot issues early in processing, so that they can be factored in to the estimated timeline for the individual case.
  • Stage 2:  Government Processing:  All USC E-3 cases are submitted via the USCIS Premium Processing Program.  Typically, this takes 15 days.  However, in some cases, the USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE).  This can delay processing, commensurate with the nature of the RFE.
  • Stage 3:  Approval Document Delivery:  The USCIS mails the original approval notice to FSVS, which can take 7-14 days from the time of decision.  If the individual is abroad, the notice must then be sent to them so that they can go to a U.S. Consulate to obtain a visa stamp in their passport and enter the USA in E-3 status.  This can take an additional 2 weeks or more.

Maintaining E-3 Status

  • E-3 employment is limited to what is described on the E-3 application or petition.  If the person’s employment is changing, or the person is changing employers, a new petition must be submitted to the government before the change can take place.
  • E-3 extension requests should be made to FSVS a full 6 months in advance.

Visa Stamps and Traveling as an H-1B

E-3 Dependents:  H-4 Status

E-3 status is available for the spouse and children (under 21) of the principal E-3 visa holder.  This will be discussed at the outset of the case.

E-3 spouses can work in the U.S. by applying to the USCIS for work authorization using Form I-765 >> here.