University of Wisconsin–Madison


What is an E-3?

The E-3 is a non-immigrant visa status that is employment based. It is designated for nationals of Australia to temporarily work in a specialty occupation in the U.S.

How long can I hold E-3 status?

You can hold E-3 status indefinitely. There is no maximum number of years that a person may remain in E-3 status. The employer can petition for E-3 status for you for up to 2 years at a time, however, your department may choose to petition for less than 2 years at a time.

Who is eligible?

The E-3 is for nationals of Australia only.

Like the H-1B, E-3 status is designated for nationals of Australia coming temporarily to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is defined as a job that requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement.” The hiring department must provide documentation to prove that the job requires someone with special qualifications and that the foreign national meets those qualifications.

If the University files to change your status to E-3 in the U.S., the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes the final decision on whether you qualify for the E-3 visa classification. Like the H-1B, the E-3 status is employer specific, which means that a USCIS approved petition submitted by UW-Madison authorizes you to work only in the position specified in the petition in Madison. Employment outside the scope of that petition, even at another department at UW-Madison, may require additional authorization from USCIS. If you have an E-3 approval from another employer, you are not automatically eligible to work at UW-Madison. An E-3 worker may work for more than one employer at the same time, but each employer must file a separate E-3 petition.

If you are outside the U.S. and petition to enter the U.S. in E-3 status (instead of filing a change of status inside the U.S), the U.S. Consulate or Embassy you visit to obtain your E-3 stamp makes the final decision on whether the individual qualifies for the E-3 visa classification.

Who is not eligible?

The E-3 is not appropriate for anyone who is not a national of Australia.

Like the H-1B, the E-3 is not appropriate for visitors, unpaid positions, degree-seeking students, or training positions.

Individuals receiving fellowship income are not subject to income and FICA tax withholding as they are being provided funding to aid in the pursuit of study or research. Since this is not considered remuneration for services being provided to the University, they are not eligible for E-3 status.

Positions at UW-Madison that do not require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a particular field are also not eligible for E-3 status. Therefore, most University Staff positions do not qualify for E-3 sponsorship.


Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of E-3 visa holders are considered dependents and are eligible for E-3D status. E-3D visa holders are only eligible to stay in the U.S. while their E-3D spouse or parent is in the U.S.

E-3D visa holders do not need to be nationals of Australia.

E-3D visa holders may apply for employment authorization from USCIS after admission to the U.S. in E-3D status. E-3D visa holders do not need to be Australian nationals to be eligible for employment authorization.

E-3D visa holders may study in the United States, full-time or part-time, for the duration of the E-3’s period of stay.

Grace period

E-3s may enter the U.S. up to ten days before the start date of employment, and may remain in the U.S. for up to ten days after the end of employment, if their current I-94 grants an additional 10 days.

You cannot work or “volunteer” to work during the grace period.

How do I request E-3 status?

The sponsoring UW Department initiates the request to sponsor an E-3, once it is determined whether or not the position is eligible for sponsorship and that the foreign national meets all eligibility requirements for the position and status.