What is E-3

E-3 is a visa status that permits temporary employment in a "specialty occupation".

"Specialty Occupation" is a legal term - the words do not mean their normal dictionary definitions. It is not the same as a "special" occupation, and it is not the same as a profession.

A specialty occupation is one where-

  • The position requires an education level that is not less than a bachelor's degree,
  • The worker holds a bachelor's degree or higher, and
  • The worker's education is in a discipline or subject matter that is relevant to the duties involved in the position (the soft skills acquired during the education are not relevant)

As you can see, the law focuses solely on education. This means the worker's professional experience (if any) is not relevant.

As a result, International Scholar Services will ask about the most recent degree program relevant to the Purdue position, and will request the diploma and transcripts (if any); depending on the situation, we might also ask for the diploma and transcripts for the prior degree program(s) too.  

How Temporary is E-3

E-3 visa status is a temporary visa status, which means it has an end date associated with each approval or grant of E-3 status. 

E-3 status is also is strictly "nonimmigrant". This means that intending to live permanently in the USA, or intending to immigrate, is not permitted. The E-3 worker must be able to identify a residence abroad to which they may return, when their permission to work in the USA ends.

How long does E-3 Last

Normally, the law limits a worker to only 2 years of E-3 status, regardless of which employer the individual is working for. 

When a worker first obtains E-3 status, this is called a "new" grant of E-3. If the grant was for less than 2 years, the worker may "extend" to the 2-year maximum.

Once a worker has reached the maximum 2-year stay in E-3 status, they may request another "new" grant of E-3 status. Each new allotment of 2 years of E-3 status is called a renewal. 

The law does not restrict the number of renewals of E-3 status a worker may have. The key is that the worker continues to demonstrate that they are a "nonimmigrant". The worker cannot use E-3 renewals to inadvertantly remain in the USA indefinitely. The longer the worker remains in the USA in E-3 status, the more likely the US government is to notice, and to question whether the worker is really temporary any more. This is especially the case if the worker remains with the same employer throughout their stay. 

What kinds of Positions are Appropriate for E-3 Status?

E-3 status may be used to sponsor workers in the following categories of employment at Purdue-

  • Clinical faculty*
  • Professors of Practice*
  • Research Faculty
  • Visiting Faculty
  • Lecturers
  • Postdoctoral researchers
  • Teaching staff positions that are 'limited' term - meaning they have an end date
  • Research staff positions that are 'limited' term - meaning they have an end date
  • other staff positions where the Career Stream is professional ("P"), managerial ("M"), or executive ("E"), provided these are 'limited' term - meaning they have an end date

* Clinical faculty and Professors of Practice are, by Purdue policy, sponsored for permanent residence. E-3 status is not compatible with the pursuit of permanent residence. Thus, while E-3 status can be used initially to support the start of a clinical or professional faculty appointment, the worker must (sooner or later) be moved to H-1B status.

Administrative and operational support positions, trades are not well eligible for E-3 sponsorship. Most most (but not all) laboratory technician positions are not well suited to E-3 sponsorship.


Fulltime versus Part-Time

Purdue does not sponsor individuals for part-time E-3 employment.