The E-3 Visa is very similar to the H-1B visa. The E-3 is available to Australian nationals to perform services in a specialty occupation in the United States.
A specialty occupation is one that requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. “Equivalent” means that a person must have three years of progressive work experience in the field for every year of education. Thus, to have the equivalent of a four-year bachelor’s degree, you must have at least 12 years of progressive work experience in your specialty field.
If you are in the U.S., you must have an employer petition for E-3 status in your behalf. In order to do so, the employer must obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor. The LCA contains certain attestations of the employer related to wage, working conditions, strikes and lockouts, and notice to other employees. Another option is to apply at the U.S. embassy or a consulate in Australia. Visa applications in Australia are generally adjudicated within days of filing. It is not necessary to file a petition with USCIS first.
There is an annual cap of 10,500 visas per year. This number is usually used up relatively quickly, and so it is important to get E-3 petitions filed as close to the beginning of the filing period as possible. The initial E-3 admission is typically for a duration of two years, and it may be extended indefinitely.