The University of Pennsylvania uses the E-3 Australian Treaty Worker in Specialty Occupation category for some faculty positions, and research associates, as well as certain staff positions such as programmer/analysts and research specialists.

  • Current immigration law makes the E-3 category available to Australian nationals in a “specialty occupation,” that is, a position “which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a baccalaureate or higher degree or its equivalent [in the specialty occupation] as a minimum requirement.”  
  • The E-3 employee must have met the minimum qualifications for the position at the time of applying for an E-3 visa.  The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) allows a maximum of 10,500 E-3s per fiscal year.

The hiring departments and the foreign nationals are not authorized to file their own E-3 cases.

Application & Process Information

  • ISSS Processing Times
    • To allow for sufficient government processing time, hiring departments should submit E-3 request materials to ISSS for a prospective E-3 employee 6-7 months in advance but no later than 90 days prior to the anticipated start of E-3 employment. 
    • If a complete E-3 request packet is not submitted to ISSS in a timely fashion, ISSS cannot guarantee that the application will be processed and/or filed in a timely manner or at the requested time.
    • Please note that ISSS processing times may vary depending on volume.
  • E-3 Processing
  • All E-3 applications, including extensions and amendments, require three steps:

    Step 1:

    ISSS must first obtain an “E-3 required wage” by comparing the prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor (DOL) to the actual wage data provided by the hiring department.  An E-3 employer is required to pay the higher of the two wages. If Penn’s wage offer is found to be inadequate, the E-3 employee’s wage must be increased, or the E-3 process for the position must be abandoned.

    Step 2:

    After receiving a satisfactory prevailing wage determination, ISSS files a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with DOL affirming that Penn will meet the prevailing wage and other legal requirements of the E-3. 

    The hiring department will be asked by the ISSS advisor to post a notice of LCA filing for 10 consecutive business days at a conspicuous place. The posting will not delay the E-3 processing.

    Step 3:

    After receiving LCA certification, ISSS will notify the hiring department to pick up the certified LCA.  The prospective E-3 employee will make a visa appointment at a US Consulate/Embassy to obtain an E-3 visa (and E-3D visas for his/her dependents, if applicable). 

    Filing Tips

    • Hiring departments must review and submit both department and employee forms and supporting documentation listed below as one complete package to ISSS. Please save a copy of materials and forms, including checks, submitted to ISSS for your records.
    • Copies should be single-sided and on 8 ½ x 11” paper. Please do not use staples.
  • Required Items from the Hiring Department
  • After completing the online form, the hiring department must review and submit the supporting documentation and items from the employee listed below as one complete package to ISSS. Please save a copy of materials and forms submitted to ISSS for your records.

    • Printable materials from the iPenn E-3 Employee Application (available on form (4) after the application is completed)
      • E-3 Position Description
      • Actual Wage Worksheet and Declaration
      • Department Request Summary and Understanding of E-3 Employment
      • For initialE-3 for post doc, a copy of the J-1 Postdoc Policy waiver/exception approval notice
      • Copy of HR-1/2 form if staff position
    • If the processing type is LCA with I-129 filing, please also include a check for $325 payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security". To avoid danger of checks expiring, checks should be valid for at least 75 days after submission to ISSS.
  • Required Items from the E-3 Employee
  • The department should obtain the following items from the employee to submit to ISSS.

    • Current curriculum vitae of individual
    • Photocopy of individual's diploma (of degree required for position)---please reduce copy to fit on 8 1/2 x 11" paper
    • An official or attested translation if the diploma is not in English
    • A credential evaluation if the degree is not from a US institution---recommended (Note: USCIS may request this)
    • Any licenses, certificates, or other special documentation required for the position.
    • Additional documentation for Health Care Workers:
      • If the position is for a physician with clinical responsibilities who is a Foreign Medical Graduate, provide copies of Steps 1, 2 and 3 of the individual’s USMLE scores, ECFMG English language certification, and valid Pennsylvania medical license.
      • If the position is for a registered nurse, provide a copy of the individual’s valid Pennsylvania RN license and certificate from the International Commission on Healthcare Professions division of CGFNS (Visascreen), certifying that 212(a)(5)(C) INA/8 CFR 212.15(f) requirements have been met.

        *There may be other special requirements for other health care worker positions, such as language pathologist or physical therapist. Please consult ISSS in such cases.
    • Photocopy of passport page(s) showing photo, biographical data, issuance date, and expiration date
    • If individual is in the United States, photo copies of Form I-94 and supporting immigration documents (single-sided copies, please)
    • If the processing type is LCA with I-129 filing, please also include the following:
      • Valid I-94 card, front and back (if issued paper I-94) or I-94 printout or US entry/admission stamp in passport (if issued electronic I-94)
      • Supplemental documents if currently holding one of the following nonimmigrant statuses:
        • F status: Copies of current and all previous I-20 forms, pages 1 and 3 (single-sided copies) and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if authorized for F-1 Optional Practical Training
        • H status: Copies of current and all previous approval notices (form I-797). 2-3 most recent pay stubs
      • If you currently hold or have ever held J status: Copies of current and all previous DS-2019 (and IAP-66 forms (front and back), if applicable)---if the individual has ever been subject to 212(e) "two-year home residency requirement and has either fulfilled the requirement or had it waived," submit evidence of a waiver or of having fulfilled the requirement. If J-2, include copies of current and all previous EADs.

    If the processing type is LCA with I-129 filing and if the employee is in the US and has a spouse or unmarried children under 21 in the US for whom dependent E-3D status is required, the department should obtain the following and submit with the E-3 request packet:

    • Form I-539, signed by the main E-3D dependent --- available at
    • Government filing fee for Form I-539 --  (A separate check payable to “Department of Homeland Security” must be written for the I-539 application fee, not to be combined with the E-3 I-129 filing fee)
    • Copy of valid I-94 card (whether a hard-copy, paper card; or electronic and indicated by an admission/entry stamp in passport)
    • Copy of initial entry stamp in E-3D status from passport or I-94 card, if applicable
    • Copy of passport page(s) showing photo, biographical data, issuance date, and expiration date
    • Copies of currently and previously issued documents for current status (i.e., I-797 notices for H, DS-2019(s) for J, or I-20 for F)
    • List on a separate sheet, a detailed chronological history of each E-3D dependent’s prior and current stay in the US. Provide the dates and specify each status (e.g., Hiroshi Au, 11/20/2004 – 03/13/2006 in J-2 status & 03/14/2006 – present in E-3D status).
    • For spouse, copy of marriage certificate (recommended)
    • For child(ren), copy of birth certificate (or other legal papers) confirming E-3 as parent (recommended)

    Special Instructions for Completing Form I-539

    • Part 1 of form I-539 “Information about you” is to be completed by the family member (spouse or child) who is currently in the United States and extending/changing to E-3D status. If there is more than one family member extending/changing to E-3D status, additional members should be listed in “Attachment -1.”
    • Part 3, Number 1—enter same date as E-3 request end date.
    • Incomplete, inaccurate, or unsigned applications or checks may result in rejection of application by USCIS—contact ISSS if you have any questions.

Conditions & Reminders

  • Length of E-3 Stay
    • The E-3 category provides for entry on a non-permanent basis into the U.S. for up to 24 months at a time
    • The E-3 visa applicant must satisfy the consular officer that s/he intends to depart the US upon termination of E-3 status. 
    • The validity may be renewed, provided that the E-3 nonimmigrant is able to demonstrate that s/he does not intend to remain or work permanently in the U.S.
  • Period of E-3 Employment (in relation to I-94 card dates)
    • The E-3 worker’s employment start date will be the LCA start date or the I-94 card start date, whichever is later. 
    • The E-3 worker’s last date of employment will be the LCA end date or the I-94 card end date, whichever is earlier. 
    • Should the dates on the E-3 employee’s I-94 card differ from the LCA dates, immediately contact an ISSS advisor. 
  • E-3 Employment Restrictions
    • The E-3 is specific to the employer and job/position for an individual E-3 employee.
    • E-3 employment authorized for Penn does not allow employment with another department at Penn, at another location, or for a different employer.
    • Consult ISSS prior to any changes in the individual’s employment, such as change in title, academic degree required for position, number of hours worked, department, location, or position duties.
    • In some cases, the E-3 and any dependent family members may have to travel outside the U.S. 
    • Please note that failure to consult ISSS may put Penn and the individual employee at risk for sanctions and penalties by DHS or DOL. 
    • E-3 employees are not allowed to accept honoraria from outside sources.
  • Change of E-3 Employer
    • If an individual is already in the U.S. in E-3 status but is sponsored by another employer and wishes to start employment at Penn, the Penn hiring department must submit an E-3 request packet to ISSS.
    • E-3 employees are not eligible for the Portability benefit.
    • The individual must not begin working for Penn until Penn’s E-3 is approved and the E-3 individual and dependent family members have left the U.S. and reentered in valid E-3 and E-3D statuses respectively.
  • Completion of E-3 Employment
  • Unfortunately there is no grace period for the E-3 employees.  So, the individual is expected to leave the US on the last day of employment.

E-3D Dependents

  • E-3D Dependent Status
    • The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of E-3 employees may apply E-3D status.
    • The spouse and children need not be Australian citizens.  
    • To obtain E-3D status, a dependent must either:
      • Apply for an E-3D visa stamp at the US Embassy or Consulate overseas (except Canadian citizens). Upon entry to the US, dependents must present a copy of  E-3 status holder’s immigration documents, his/her passport and his/her E-3D visa stamp (accompanied by any supporting documents) at the US Port of Entry in order to gain E-3D status; or
      • Apply for a Change of Status in the US.  Please meet with an ISSS advisor for further details.
    • E-3D dependent spouses are eligible to apply for employment authorization from the USCIS, allowing him/her to work in the US once the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is approved.  E-3D status holders may only apply for an EAD after entering the US and holding E-3 status.
    • E-3D dependents may study in the US, as long as their primary purpose in the US is to accompany the E-3 status holder. However, the duration of their study depends on the E-3’s period of stay.
    • The duration of the E-3 status holder's status is stated on the I-94 card.  If the E-3 is eligible and applies for an extension of stay, the E-3D dependent may apply for an extension along with the E-3 status holder at least 90 days prior to the current E-3 end date.
    • A child may not continue to hold E-3D status upon reaching his or her 21st birthday.
  • E-3D Spouse Work Permission
  • E-3D spouses may apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to work in the United States. 

    • All applications for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) must be submitted to USCIS.
    • The USCIS can take 2 to 3 months to process the EAD.  E-3D’s work may begin only after the E-3D has received the approved EAD card and during the EAD validity period
    • E-3D holders can only apply for work permission after they have entered the US in E-3D status or have successfully changed their visa status to E-3D within the US.
    • They are valid for any kind of full-time or part-time employment for the period stated on the card as long as the E-3 employee is maintaining status.
    • To apply for an EAD extension, follow the same instructions below. Processing time for renewals is also 2 to 3 months.

    Application Materials

    To apply for E-3D work permission, you need the following:

    • Completed USCIS Form I-765 with “(c) (5) ( )” noted in section 16.
    • Copies of both E-3's and E-3D's
      • I-94
      • the visa used for last entry into the U.S. (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
      • I-797 Approval Notices, if any
      • Copies of the identification pages of both passports, including the photo page
    • I-765  Application Fee, payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    • Two identical color passport style photographs. Immigration regulations require that your head be uncovered unless you wear a headdress for religious reasons.  Print your name lightly in pencil on the back of the photos.
    • If you have applied for an EAD before, copies of your previous EAD card(s) - front and back
    • A letter stating why income is necessary. See the Sample cover letter below.
    • To send your application, see the Mailing Instructions below.

    Social Security and Taxes

    Anyone who earns money in the United States must have a social security number for taxpayer identification purposes. You may apply for a social security number only after you have received your EAD card.  E-3D holders are subject to social security taxes, federal income taxes and, where applicable, state and local income taxes.

    Sample Cover Letter

    [Your address]


    [refer to the address under Mailing Instructions]

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    With this letter, I am applying for employment authorization on the basis of my E-3D status. I am the dependent [husband or wife] of [name], a E-3 employee at the University of Pennsylvania.

    I want to work because [reason for employment]. (Please remember that income from employment is to be used to support the family's customary recreational, educational and cultural activities and related travel.)

    I declare that the money I earn will be used for cultural, recreational, and related travel activities and will not be used to support the E-3D.

    [E-3D signature]
    [E-3D name]

    Mailing Instructions

    • Before mailing, make a photocopy of the completed application for your records.
    • Staple the check and envelope with photos to the form I-765 and place on top. Mail the application to the USCIS Service Center which has jurisdiction over the address you listed on the I-765 in item 3.
    • Pennsylvania or New Jersey addresses use the USCIS “Dallas Lockbox” filing location:

      U.S. Postal Service deliveries:
      P.O. Box 660867
      Dallas, TX 75266

      Express mail and courier deliveries:
      Attn: AOS
      2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
      Suite 400
      Lewisville, TX 75067

    • People filing at the lockbox can sign up to receive an email and/or text message confirming that the application was accepted by adding Form G-1145 as the first page of the EAD application.
    • We strongly recommend you mail your application by express mail or by “Certified Mail Return Receipt” so that you will have a record of its delivery.

Penn Internal Processing Fees

* For E-3 LCA only (for those traveling internationally to obtain E-3 status): $500

* For E-3 LCA and I-129 filing with USCIS (for those who do not want to travel), fee effective July 1, 2014: $1,300.