Job Focus: Australians Immigrating to the United States and Vice Versa

By Richard Serby

An interesting question came from a Directions Magazine reader, an entry-level GIS worker living in Australia who was interested in working in the U.S. Thinking about that, I also wondered about how difficult it would be for a U.S. citizen to work in Australia.

E-3 Work Visas for Australians to Work in the United States
(From the United States Immigration Support website)
General Information: The E-3 is a new visa category available to Australian citizens only. The E-3 Treaty Professional Visa is a temporarily work visa. It is usually issued for two years at the time. United States legislation limits the E-3 visa to nationals of Australia. The primary E-3 work visa applicant must be going to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. The spouse and children of the main E-3 visa applicant need not be Australian citizens. Spouses of E-3 visa holders are entitled to E-3D (dependent) visas and work authorization.

Eligibility Requirements: The term "specialty occupation" means an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the U.S. The definition is the same as the Immigration and Nationality Act definition of an H-1B specialty occupation.

Additional Information: The annual quota for E-3 visas is 10,500. This is a very high quota; by comparison only 900 Australians succeeded in obtaining H-1B work visas in 2004. The H-1B work visa has an annual cap of 65,000. This quota applies to citizens of all countries in the world, while the E-3 visa is available to Australians only. If you are an Australian citizen, the E-3 visa can be easier to obtain than the H-1B work visa. E-3 work visas are temporary visas, meaning that when the visa expires, the individual has to leave the United States. While E-3 work visas are usually issued for two years, they can be renewed indefinitely (in two-year extensions).

United States to Australia / Temporary 457 Business Visa
The Temporary 457 Business Visa facilitates the entry into Australia of skilled persons from any country for up to four years at a time. You may work as a contractor through a staffing firm or directly for an Australian company. During that period you are able to begin the process of obtaining permanent residency. Lawfully operating Australian employers can sponsor and employ skilled workers who have specific qualifications and skills or experience in particular occupations required in Australia. Requirements, immigration process and forms may be found here. Entity Solutions is an example of a private firm that facilitates U.S. workers seeking employment in Australia.

The Australian government encourages "young, skilled workers" and there are specific age limitations in Australian law. This is very different than U.S. laws which long ago eliminated age as a factor in hiring.

Published Friday, January 12th, 2007

Written by Richard Serby

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