News July 2005

New E-3 Visas for Australians Expected Soon

The Department of State's Visa Office recently stated that it is actively working to finalize implementation of the new E-3 visa for Australian nationals performing services in a specialty occupation.

Draft regulations are reportedly currently undergoing internal review by other interested agencies. Simultaneously, the State Department is seeking assurances from the Australian government that American citizens will receive reciprocal visa treatment. According to the Visa Office, implementing regulations should be ready for public notice in about two months.

These new visas were authorized on May 11, 2005, when President Bush signed into law the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief of 2005. The E-3 visas will have a number of requirements similar those governing H-1B visas: they will be for professional workers, and will require filing of prevailing wage information with the Department of Labor. The new visas will be valid for two years, and can be extended indefinitely.

The law permits for issuance of up to 10,500 E-3 visas each fiscal year. They will not be subject to the annual numerical cap which limits new H-1B petitions to 65,000 for this coming fiscal year (which begins on October 1, 2005 and ends on September 30, 2006).


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