Step 1: UH job offer
UH may sponsor a prospective employee for E-3 employment after a job offer from a UH department has been accepted. That is, E-3 sponsorship may be initiated only if an employment agreement exists between a UH department and a foreign national. Once a job offer has been accepted, the department must determine whether the individual is eligible to work in the U.S. If the person does not already have employment authorization for the UH job, the proper authorization must be secured before employment can begin. The E-3 classification may be an option for work authorization if the initial eligibility requirements are met.
It is important to note that UH does not classify stipend or fellowship recipients (e.g., postdoctoral fellows) as employees. This means UH cannot seek E-3 classification for non-salaried appointments. Instead, the J-1 classification may be the most appropriate option.
Step 2: Determine E-3 eligibility
UH units may pursue E-3 sponsorship if the following minimum requirements are met:
- The position must be in a “specialty occupation” that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent in the specific field; and
- The prospective employee must have the required educational degree or its equivalent in the specific field, experience, and other requirements for the position. For E-3 purposes, a bachelor’s degree equates to three years of progressively responsible experience for each year of formal education the individual lacks; a master’s degree’s equivalence is a bachelor’s degree plus five years of progressively responsible experience in the specialty. There is no equivalent for a doctorate.
Clinical positions: If the position involves direct patient contact that is not incidental to the duties and the employee is a graduate of a foreign medical school, these additional requirements must be met:
- Passage of one of these exams: Federation Licensing Examination (FLEX) parts I and II, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Parts I, II, and III, or U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), Steps 1, 2, and 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) (i.e., TOEFL);
- A full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in a foreign country or a degree from a medical school in a foreign country; and
- A license or other authorization required by the state in which the individual will practice or receive graduate medical education or training.
Annual E-3 “cap”
The U.S. government allows a maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas to 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: Prepare E-3 request
After the UH department determines that E-3 classification is appropriate, the E-3 request process may begin. The department and prospective E-3 employee has two options to obtain E-3 status: (A) by applying for an E-3 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. and then applying for E-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry or (B) by UH filing a petition with USCIS while the employee remains in the U.S.
In either case, the UH sponsoring unit must submit an E-3 request packet to FSIS by the deadline (see below). Submission of a late request may delay an E-3 employee’s employment start or continuation date. It can even result in the loss of legal immigration status in the U.S.
|(A) E-3 entry request||(B) E-3 petition request|
Use this option when the employee is outside the U.S. and will begin the E-3 employment period by applying for admission at a U.S. port of entry.
Submit this type of request to FSIS through the college/school HR specialist no later than two months prior to the requested E-3 start date. FSIS will seek approval of a labor condition application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL); approval generally takes 10 days or less.
An approved LCA, along with other documents, is necessary for the employee to obtain an E-3 visa from a U.S. embassy/consulate to enter the U.S. Departments need to consider the waiting periods for visa interview appointments and visa issuance. Plan ahead to allow enough time for the employee and any family members to obtain the necessary visas to enter the U.S.
Use this option when the employee is currently in the U.S. and cannot depart and reenter to begin UH E-3 employment. FSIS will prepare a E-3 petition that must be submitted to USCIS well before the intended employment start date.
Submit this type of request to FSIS through the college/school HR specialist no later than four months prior to the requested E-3 start date. Please note:
E-3 request process
UH colleges/schools/departments/units need to follow each step below to complete and submit E-3 requests to FSIS.
1. The UH sponsoring unit determines the “required wage.”
The required wage is the higher of the actual wage or the prevailing wage. UH colleges/schools are prohibited from paying E-3 employees less than this wage. FSIS cannot process an E-3 request if payment of the required wage cannot be verified.
To determine the actual wage, the college/school/department must complete the Actual Wage Calculation Form and the Actual Wage Statement. Both forms must be properly completed and submitted with the E-3 request to FSIS.
The prevailing wage is determined by the type of position the E-3 will hold.
- Faculty positions: The applicable minimum salary in the UHPA collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is the prevailing wage.
- APT positions: Step 1 of the applicable pay band on the APT salary schedule under the HGEA CBA is the prevailing wage.
- Non-union positions: FSIS will calculate the prevailing wage using the position description matched against the occupation’s O*NET description. In rare cases, FSIS may need to obtain a prevailing wage determination (PWD) from the U.S. Department of Labor prior to completing the E-3 LCA/petition. This latter process can take up to 7-8 months, so departments need to factor in this time when deciding on an employment start date for an unusual non-union position.
2. The UH department initiates the E-3 request.
The UH department works with the E-3 beneficiary to obtain necessary information and documentation for the E-3 request packet. The department completes/gathers its portion of the documents listed on the E-3 Request Form.
If any document is not written in English, provide a translation and a translator’s certification.
3. The HR specialist reviews the E-3 request, attaches documents, and submits the request via UH FileDrop to FSIS.
The UH department forwards its portion of the E-3 request packet to the HR specialist for the college/school/unit. The HR specialist reviews the packet, attaches any additional documents, and submits the completed request via UH FileDrop to an Immigration Specialist at FSIS.
Step 4: FSIS processing
Once FSIS receives the request from the HR specialist, we will review it and complete the following as long as all initial requirements are met:
- For non-union positions, issue a prevailing wage determination (PWD) (in rare cases, a PWD request may need to be sent to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which can take 7-8 months);
- For union positions, provide a notice of labor condition application (LCA) filing to the collective bargaining representative (union positions); for non-union positions, forward notices to the HR specialist to be publicly posted for 10 consecutive business days;
- Prepare and submit a LCA to the DOL (may take up to 10 days for approval);
- Prepare USCIS Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (if petition request);
- Prepare a cover letter for the E-3 petition;
- Prepare USCIS Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service (if requested); and
- Review Form I-539/I-539A for any E-3D dependents (if applicable).
FSIS will send the applicable E-3 documents to the HR specialist depending on the type of request:
|(A) E-3 entry requests||(B) E-3 petition requests|
FSIS will FileDrop to the E-3 employee and HR specialist a copy of the certified LCA and a memo providing information on E-3 visa application procedures at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The E-3 employee may need to provide a copy of the employment offer letter and position description at the visa interview.
See Step 5a: Apply for E-3 entry for the next steps.
FSIS will email the E-3 petition filing fee amounts and mailing account information request to the HR specialist. The college/school/department (as appropriate) follows the email instruction to request the filing fee check(s) from UH Disbursing. UH Disbursing will notify FSIS when the check(s) are ready for pick up. The unit must provide its FedEx account number or UH account number for FSIS to charge the the FedEx invoice.
After picking up the filing fee checks, FSIS will mail the petition with the fees to USCIS. FSIS will FileDrop a copy of the petition, which includes the certified LCA, to the HR specialist and to the employee.
See Step 5b: USCIS processing for the next steps.
Step 5a: Apply for E-3 entry
The information in the section applies to situations where an employee will acquire E-3 status by applying for an E-3 visa and admission to the U.S.
When the E-3 employee receives a copy of the LCA, offer letter, and position description, the employee needs to follow the steps below to apply for an E-3 visa and E-3 admission to the U.S.
1. Apply for an E-3 visa.
Individuals who already have E-3 visas that will be valid on the date they arrive in the U.S. do not need to apply for new ones and may proceed to “2. Apply for E-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry” below.
To apply for an E-3 visa, the employee must visit the U.S. Department of State’s U.S. embassies and consulates website to view the visa application requirements and to make an appointment for a visa interview. It is best to apply at the U.S. embassy/consulate having jurisdiction over the place of residence, though they may apply at any U.S. embassies/consulates worldwide that permit third country nationals’ applications. Anyone who was ever a visa overstay in the U.S. must apply for the visa at a consular office in their country of nationality.
E-3 visa application requirements differ by embassy/consulate, so the employee needs to check directly with the specific U.S. embassy/consulate on the requirements for the visa application if there are any questions.
Generally, all E-3 visa applications must include:
- DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page;
- Visa interview appointment confirmation page;
- Proof of payment of visa fees;
- A passport-style photograph that meets DOS‘s nonimmigrant visa photo requirements;
- Australian passport valid for at least six months beyond the LCA end date;
- 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 license); and
- Any other documents required by the specific U.S. embassy or consulate.
If the E-3 employee has any family members who will come to the U.S. as dependents, they need to follow the E-3D entry procedures.
2. Apply for E-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry.
Next, the employee applies for E-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry up to 10 days prior to the start date on the LCA/approval notice and bring the following items to the port of entry:
- Valid E-3 visa in passport;
- Australian passport valid for at least six months beyond the LCA end date (if the passport will expire before the approval notice end date, a shorter period of stay may be granted);
- Copy of the UH-filed LCA, certified by the U.S. Department of Labor;
- UH employment offer letter or employment confirmation letter from the UH department;
- Documentation showing the position is in a specialty occupation (e.g., UH position description); and
- Proof of eligibility for employment in a specialty occupation (e.g., diploma/transcript showing the requisite degree, other credentials, required license, etc.).
Also present E-3D admission documents for any accompanying family members.
Individuals are not guaranteed entry to the U.S. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry will review all documents and ask about the purpose of the visit. These officers have the discretion to admit a person in E-3 status and any family members in E-3D status and may refer them to a more detailed secondary inspection.
When the E-3 employee is admitted into the U.S., all documents must be returned to them. CBP will issue an electronic Form I-94 for each person to access and print at the CBP‘s I-94 website. The Form I-94 printout is proof of admission to and legal immigration status in the U.S.
E-3 employees and E-3D family members need to keep copies of their passport biodata/expiration pages, visas, and Form I-94 records permanently in case any of these documents are lost or stolen.
3. Send copies of entry documents via UH FileDrop to FSIS and update employee’s PeopleSoft record.
After the E-3 employee is admitted into the U.S., send the Immigration Specialist the following documents so we can update our records and check their admission:
- Completed Contact Information Form;
- Copy of Form I-94 printout from CBP‘s I-94 website;
- Copy of E-3 visa in passport;
- Copy of passport biodata page (if new/renewed); and
- Copies of the Form I-94 printout, visa, and passport biodata page for each E-3D dependent (if applicable).
Cancellation of employment
If E-3 employment is canceled for any reason, the HR specialist must notify the Immigration Specialist immediately so we can withdraw the LCA. If we are not timely notified, the department may be required to pay back wages plus interest to the beneficiary.
Step 5b: USCIS processing
The information in the section applies to situations where an employee will acquire E-3 status via a petition filed with USCIS.
Upon receiving the E-3 petition, USCIS will conduct an initial review to ensure the petition is being timely filed with the appropriate fee. If USCIS determines the petition has been properly filed, it will mail a receipt notice to FSIS, and we will email a copy of it to the HR specialist and employee. Please note the following regarding the different types of E-3 petitions:
|Petition type||UH employment||International travel|
|Change of E-3 employer||UH employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|Concurrent E-3 employment||UH employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|E-3 amendment||Changes to E-3 employment may take place after USCIS approves the petition.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|E-3 change of status||E-3 employment may begin after USCIS approves the petition. Employment may begin prior to approval if the beneficiary has another type of valid work authorization.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
|E-3 extension||Employment in the same position under the same terms may continue for up to 240 days after the prior authorization’s end date until USCIS renders a decision, provided the petition was timely filed.||See important information about traveling abroad while a petition is pending.|
Under regular processing, it generally takes USCIS 2-3 months to adjudicate petitions.
If premium processing service is requested, USCIS will act on the petition within 15 calendar days (“Act on” = approve, deny, request further evidence, or notify of intent to deny). USCIS offers this service for an additional fee, which may be paid only by the department.
While the petition is pending, departments can check its status using the receipt number and view average processing times on USCIS’s case status website.
If the petition is approved, USCIS will mail an E-3 approval notice (Form I-797A or I-797B Notice of Action) to FSIS. FSIS will send the following documents to the HR specialist for distribution:
- Memo to the employee;
- Original approval notice for the employee; and
- Contact Information Form (only for new employees), which the employee needs to complete and return to FSIS after starting employment.
E-3 status automatically begins/continues upon the approval notice’s start date. The employee does not need to leave the U.S. and reenter to begin/continue E-3 employment unless a Form I-797B has been issued. If a Form I-797B was issued, the individual must follow the E-3 entry procedures to begin E-3 employment.
Cancellation of employment
If E-3 employment is canceled for any reason, the HR specialist must notify an Immigration Specialist immediately so we can withdraw the LCA and the petition (if applicable). If we are not timely notified, the department may be required to pay back wages plus interest to the beneficiary.