Obtaining E-3 Status
STEP 1: Acceptance of a UH job offer
STEP 2: Determination of E-3 eligibility
STEP 3: E-3 entry or E-3 petition
STEP 4: USCIS processing (applies to E-3 petitions only)
STEP 1: Acceptance of a UH job offer [top]
employees can only enter the U.S. in E-3 status with a job offer from a
U.S. employer. Likewise, if a prospective UH employee is already in the
U.S. and needs E-3 petition approval for a change of status, change of
employer, or concurrent employment, UH can only file a E-3 petition on
his/her behalf if he/she has accepted a job offer from a UH department
(i.e. an employment relationship exists between the UH department and
the foreign national).
Once a UH department enters into an
employment agreement with a foreign national, the department must
determine whether he/she is eligible to work in the U.S. If he/she does
not already have employment authorization that will allow him/her to
work at UH, he/she will need the proper authorization before employment
NOTE: UH does not classify stipend recipients (e.g. post-doctoral fellows) as employees. This means UH cannot seek E-3 classification for foreign
nationals coming to UH as stipend recipients. Instead, the J-1 Exchange Visitor classification may be the most appropriate immigration status for such appointments.
STEP 2: Determination of E-3 eligibility [top]
Minimum E-3 eligibility requirements:
- The position must be in a
“specialty occupation." The position must require the theoretical and
practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge AND at
least a bachelor’s degree (or its foreign equivalent) in the specific
field. (This is the same standard as the one used for H-1B specialty occupations.)
- The individual must meet
the requirements for the position. The individual must have the required
educational degree in the specific field or its equivalent through
education, training, and experience and any necessary licenses. Degree
equivalents for E-3 eligibility purposes include:
- Bachelor’s Degree = 3 years of progressive experience for each year of formal education the individual lacks.
- Master’s Degree = Bachelor’s degree + at least 5 years of progressively responsible experience in the specialty.
- Doctorate = No equivalent. If the job requires a doctorate, the individual must have it.
- JABSOM positions: If the
position involves direct (not incidental) patient contact and the
employee is a graduate of a foreign medical school, he/she must meet
these additional requirements:
- Passage of one of the
following exams: Federation Licensing Examination (FLEX) parts I and II
OR an "equivalent examination as determined by the Secretary of Health
and Human Services" (HHS). HHS has designated only two exams as being
equivalent to the FLEX for E-3 purposes: (1) National Board of Medical
Examiners (NBME), Parts I, II, and III OR (2) United States Medical
Licensing Examination (USMLE), Steps 1, 2, & 3.
- Competency in oral and
written English shown by passage of an English proficiency exam
acceptable to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
(ECFMG). ECFMG accepts and evaluates TOEFL scores.
- A full and unrestricted
license to practice medicine in a foreign country or have graduated from
a medical school in a foreign country.
- A license or other
authorization required by the state in which the Foreign Medical
Graduate (FMG) will practice or receive graduate medical education or
Annual E-3 "cap"
A maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas can be issued annually during each fiscal year (October 1 - September 30). E-3D spouses and children do not count toward this quota, nor do applicants extending their E-3 statuses within the U.S. with the same employer.
STEP 3: E-3 entry or E-3 petition [top]
After your UH department has determined that E-3 classification is proper, your UH department will prepare an E-3 request and submit it to FSIS through the college/school/unit's Administrative/Personnel Officer (AO/PO). Your department will require information from you to prepare this request. After the request process is completed, you will be able to obtain E-3 status by one of two ways: (1) you are abroad and will be entering the U.S. in E-3 status to begin your UH employment OR (2) you are currently in the U.S. and UH will be filing an E-3 petition on your behalf to receive USCIS approval to start your UH appointment.
NOTE: Premium Processing Service for E-3 petitions is not currently available. In cases where employment must begin immediately, E-3 entry, rather than an E-3 petition, would likely allow you to obtain the necessary work authorization quicker.
OPTION 1: Enter the U.S. in E-3 status
You will need to obtain an E-3 entry visa from a U.S. embassy/consulate abroad in order to enter the U.S. in E-3 status. You should generally apply at the U.S. embassy/consulate having
jurisdiction over your place of residence. Although you may apply at any
U.S. embassy/consulate, it may be more difficult to qualify for the
visa outside your country of citizenship or permanent residence. If you
were ever a visa overstay in the U.S., you must apply for any new visas
at a consular office in your country of nationality.
If you are starting your E-3 status by entering the U.S. from another country, UH does not need to receive I-129 petition approval before you can apply for the E-3 visa, but you will need a packet of documents, including an approved labor condition application (LCA), from your UH department for your visa application.
After you receive the documents from your UH department:
FIRST, apply for an E-3 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Check the U.S. Department of State's "Apply for a U.S. Visa" website
for visa application requirements and to make an appointment for a visa
interview. E-3 visa application requirements differ by
embassy/consulate, so you must check with the specific U.S. embassy/consulate on the requirements for your visa application. Listed below are some of the documents that will be required at the visa interview, including a few documents that must be provided to you by UH:
- Proof of Australian citizenship (e.g. valid Australian passport)
- Copy of a UH-filed LCA, certified by the U.S. Department of Labor
- UH employment offer letter
- Documentation that the position qualifies as specialty occupation employment (e.g. UH position description)
- Proof of eligibility for employment in a specialty occupation (i.e. diploma/transcript showing the requisite degree and/or other credentials and required licensure)
- Proof that the stay will be temporary (however, permanent labor certification or an immigrant petition should not be the sole basis for denying you a visa)
- Proof of payment of the Machine Readable Visa fee
SECOND, apply for entry in E-3 status at a U.S.
port of entry after you receive your E-3 visa from the U.S. embassy/consulate. Bring the following items to the port of entry:
- Valid E-3 visa in passport
- Australian passport valid for at
least 6 months beyond the LCA end date (if your
passport will expire before the LCA end date, you will
be granted a shorter period of stay than is printed on the LCA, so it is best to renew your passport before entry)
- Proof of Australian citizenship (if you don't have an Australian passport)
- Copy of the UH-filed LCA, certified by the U.S. Department of Labor
- UH employment offer letter from your UH department
- Documentation showing that the position qualifies as specialty occupation employment (e.g. UH position description)
- Proof of eligibility for
employment in a specialty occupation (i.e. diploma/transcript showing
the requisite degree and/or other credentials and required licensure)
- Proof that the stay will be
temporary (however, permanent labor certification or an immigrant
petition should not be the sole basis for denying you a visa)
Also, each E-3D dependent should bring the following items to the U.S. port of entry:
- E-3D visa in passport (N/A for E-3D dependents who are Canadian passport-holders)
- Passport valid for at
least 6 months beyond the LCA end date (if a passport
will expire before the LCA end date, that person will
be granted a shorter period of stay than is printed on the LCA, so it is best to renew the passport before entry)
- Copy of marriage certificate (for E-3D spouse)
- Copy of birth certificate (for E-3D child)
- UH employment offer letter from your UH department (to show financial support)
note that visas and/or approval notices will not guarantee entry to the
U.S. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port
of entry will review your immigration documents and ask you questions
about your stay. These officers have the discretion to admit you in E-3
status and your family members in E-3D status and may refer you to a
more detailed secondary inspection.
you are admitted into the
U.S., your documents will be returned to you and you should
receive an admission date stamp with the notations “E-3” (principal
E-3 worker) or “E-3D” (dependents) and a date indicating the length of
your period of authorized stay in your passport. You should also receive
instructions on how to print your own I-94 arrival record on CBP's I-94 website. The admission stamp with notations and the I-94 printout function as proof
of your admission to and legal immigration status in the U.S. In some
cases, you may be issued a paper I-94 at entry, but CBP is phasing out
this process. If you are issued a paper I-94, that card is evidence of
your legal status in the U.S.
It is a good idea to keep
copies of all approval notices, passport biodata/expiration pages,
visas, admission stamps, and I-94 records permanently in case any of the
documents are lost or stolen.
you arrive in the U.S., please send the following items to FSIS so we
can update our records and check that you were admitted properly at the
port of entry:
- Completed Contact Information Form
- Copy of both sides of your I-94 card or I-94 printout from CBP's I-94 website
- Copy of admission stamp with notations in passport
- Copy of E visa in your passport
- Copy of your passport biodata and expiration page (if you have a new passport)
- Copies of #2-5 for each E-3D dependent (if applicable)
OPTION 2: UH files an E-3 petition with USCIS
UH must receive USCIS approval of a E-3 petition filed on your behalf before you can begin UH employment in the following situations:
- You are currently in the
U.S. in another nonimmigrant status (e.g. H-1B, J-1), you need to change
to E-3 status, and you will not depart and reenter the U.S. before UH E-3
employment will begin.
- You currently hold E-3 employment with another U.S. employer, you will be changing employers to UH, and you will not depart and reenter the U.S. before UH E-3 employment will begin.
- You currently hold E-3 employment with another U.S. employer, you will be concurrently employed by UH, and you will not depart and reenter the U.S. before UH E-3 employment will begin.
Please inform your UH department if either of the following situations apply to you:
- You are currently in F-1
status with a graduation date or F-1 status/OPT end date that will occur
more than 60 days prior to your intended E-3 start date.
- You are currently in J-1 status with a program end date that will occur more than 30 days prior to your intended E-3 start date.
- You are currently in J-1 or J-2 status, subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement.
After receiving the E-3 request from your college/school/unit’s Administrative/ Personnel Officer (AO/PO), FSIS will prepare the E-3 petition and return it to the AO/PO with instructions on payment of fee(s) and mailing to USCIS.
STEP 4: USCIS processing [top]
information applies only to E-3 petitions filed with USCIS. Ignore this
section if you obtained/will obtain E-3 status by entering at a U.S. port
USCIS will mail a receipt notice to FSIS if the E-3 petition is properly and timely filed.
Petitions for change of status to E-3: If UH is filing a petition for a change of status to E-3 from another nonimmigrant status (e.g. F-1, J-1), you should not leave the U.S. until the petition is approved by USCIS.
If you leave the U.S. while a change of status petition is pending with
USCIS, your change of status will be considered abandoned. If you know
you will need to travel abroad while your petition is pending, be sure
to notify your UH department and FSIS BEFORE the petition is sent to USCIS.
Petitions for change of E-3 employer or concurrent E-3 employment:
You may begin UH employment only upon approval of the E-3 petition.
USCIS processing time
- Regular Processing: Normally takes 2-4 months on average.
- Premium Processing Service: Not currently available for E-3 petitions.
See the USCIS Case Status Service website to check the status of pending petitions and to see average processing times.
the petition is approved, USCIS will send an E-3 approval notice (Form
I-797A Notice of Action) to FSIS. The original bottom portion of the
approval notice belongs to you and should be kept in your passport. FSIS
will keep the original top portion of the notice, which is the
employer’s copy. FSIS will notify the AO/PO/contact when the approval
notice has arrived.
E-3 status will automatically begin/continue
upon the E-3 approval notice start date. You do not need to leave the
U.S. and reenter to begin your E-3 period.
If you cannot begin employment at UH for any reason, you must notify your UH department immediately.