Step 1: UH job offer
UH may file an E-3 petition and/or labor condition application on behalf of a prospective employee if 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, they will need to secure proper authorization 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. post-doctoral fellows) as employees. This means UH cannot seek E-3 classification for non-salaried appointments. In such cases, 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. An E-3 employee has two options to obtain E-3 status: (A) by applying for entry to the U.S. from abroad with an E-3 visa and other required documents or (B) by USCIS petition approval while they remain in the U.S. In either case, the UH sponsoring unit must submit an E-3 request packet to FSIS by the recommended deadlines (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|
|This option is most appropriate 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 45 days 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 should 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 already 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 4 months prior to the requested E-3 start date. Please note:
E-3 request process
UH colleges, schools, departments, and units should 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.
|2||The UH department initiates the E-3 request.
The UH department should work with the E-3 employee to obtain necessary information and documentation for the E-3 request packet. The department should complete/gather 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 and attaches documents.
The UH department should forward its portion of the E-3 request packet to the Human Resources specialist for the college/school/unit. The HR specialist reviews these documents and attaches any additional documents.
The HR specialist should send the complete request packet 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 2-3 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 an 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; and
- Review Form I-539 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) Entry requests||(B) Petition requests|
|FSIS will send 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 sponsoring unit should give the following items to the E-3 employee:
See Step 5a: Apply for E-3 entry for the next steps.
|FSIS will email the E-3 petition filing fee amount(s) and USCIS mailing address options to the HR specialist. The college/school/department (as appropriate) should request the filing fee check, indicating that the check be returned to the unit. The unit should hand-deliver the check and one of the following mailing materials to FSIS:
After receiving the filing fee checks and mailing label/bar codes, FSIS will mail the petition with the fees to USCIS. FSIS will file-drop 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 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.
After the sponsoring unit sends the E-3 employee a copy of the LCA, offer letter, and position description, the employee should 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.
The employee must have a valid E-3 visa from a U.S. consular office to apply for E-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry. An employee who already has an E-3 visa that will be valid on the date of arrival in the U.S. does not need to apply for a new one 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 should 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 try 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. If the person was ever a visa overstay in the U.S., they 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 should 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:
If the worker has any family members who will come to the U.S. as dependents, they should follow the E-3D entry procedures.
|2||Apply for E-3 admission at a U.S. port of entry.
Next, the employee should apply 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:
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 should be returned and an admission date stamp should be placed in their passport with the notations “E-3” (worker) or “E-3D” (dependents) and a date indicating the period of authorized stay in the U.S. The CBP officer should instruct each person to access and print an I-94 arrival record on CBP’s I-94 website. The admission stamp with notations and the I-94 printout are proof of admission to and legal immigration status in the U.S. In some cases, a person may be issued a paper I-94 card at entry, but CBP is phasing those out. If anyone is issued a paper I-94, that card is evidence of legal status in the U.S.
E-3 employees and E-3D family members should keep copies of their passport biodata/expiration pages, visas, admission stamps, and I-94 records permanently in case any of these documents are lost or stolen.
|3||Send copies of entry documents to FSIS.
After the E-3 employee is admitted into the U.S., send Isis the following documents so we can update our records and check their admission:
Cancellation of employment
If E-3 employment is cancelled for any reason, the HR specialist must notify Isis 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 section applies to situations where an employee will acquire E-3 status via a petition filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once the UH department mails 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. 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 6-7 months to adjudicate petitions filed between November through March. However, petitions filed in April through October can take 4-6 months.
Premium processing service is not available for E-3 petitions.
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 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 should complete and return to FSIS after starting employment.
E-3 status should automatically begin/continue upon the approval notice’s start date. The employee should not need to leave the U.S. and reenter to begin/continue E-3 employment unless a Form I-797B has been issued. If an 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 cancelled for any reason, the HR specialist must notify Isis 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.