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The E-3 temporary worker visa is designated for Australian citizens coming temporarily to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires "theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum requirement." Australian permanent residents are ineligible for this visa type unless they hold an Australian passport. E-3 visa holders may be admitted initially for a period up to two years, and extensions of stay may be granted indefinitely in increments of up to two years. There is an annual cap of 10,500 initial E-3 applications for principal visa holders.

The hiring department must provide documentation to prove that the job requires a person with special qualifications and that the individual meets those qualifications. Further, the hiring department is required to pay a salary to the individual, which meets the prevailing wage. The individual's pay check must come from the hiring entity (Pepperdine University or an affiliated hospital).

The OISS must file and receive an approved Labor Condition Application from the U.S. Department of Labor, before an individual may obtain an E-3 visa or E-3 status. If an individual is to enter the United States from another country the University is not required to file an E-3 petition with USCIS in advance of his/her arrival.

 Maintaining Status

The E-3 visa is employer specific, which means that the USCIS approved petition authorizes the individual to work only at Pepperdine University or its affiliated hospital. The individual must meet the terms and conditions described in the Labor Condition Application.


The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of E-3 visa holders are eligible for dependent visa status. The dependent spouse and children of an E-3 non-immigrant do not have to be Australian Citizens to be eligible for E-3 dependent status.

Additionally, E-3 spouses are eligible to apply for employment authorization after arriving in the United States and are eligible for Social Security Numbers once they obtain their work authorization. E-3 children are eligible to attend school either full-time or part time.


The E-3 visa is employer specific, which means that an USCIS approved petition that was submitted by the OISS authorizes the E-3 visa holder to work only in the position specified in the petition at Pepperdine or one of the affiliated hospitals. An individual who has an E-3 approval from another employer is not automatically eligible to work at Pepperdine. An E-3 worker may work for more than one employer, but each employer must file a separate E-3 visa petition.

 Social Security Numbers

How to Apply

In order to apply for a Social Security Number, you must take your passport, Form I-797 (E-3 approval notice) and Form I-94 to the Social Security Administration office at 10 Fawcett Street, 1st Floor, Cambridge.

At the Social Security Administration office, you must complete the SSN application form. You will receive notification of your SSN in the mail. The process usually takes four to eight weeks. If you have not heard within this time period, please contact the OISS. You may call the Social Security Administration at 1.800.772,1213 or visit the Social Security Administration website with any questions.

Once you have obtained a U.S. Social Security Number, it is not necessary to apply for a new one if the employment changes. If you lose your SSN Card and need to apply for a replacement card, you must prove that you are employed in the United States at the time of your application.

When to Apply

You must have been in the United States for at least ten days. This waiting period assures that your record will have been updated in the government's database. In addition, you cannot apply for an SSN before the start date of E-3 approval notice (Form I-797).


The following is general information regarding taxation of international scholars. To review detailed tax information (including tax return filing during tax season) please visit the tax section of this website.

International scholars should be aware that taxes may be deducted from salaries if funds are from U.S. sources. The available income after taxes may be less than anticipated as scholars may be subject to federal, state, and/or Social Security taxes which can range from 14-30% of one's total income. The amount of taxes scholars may pay depends on the type of income they receive and their tax status in the United States. In addition, there are many tax treaties between the United States and other countries which may exempt certain earnings from taxes. Those who receive funding from Pepperdine will receive information from the University Financial Services office.

All international scholars and their dependents with U.S source income are required to report their annual income by completing tax forms between January 1 and April 15 of the following year. Accompanying dependents on E-3 visas must complete at least one tax form as well.

To help guide individuals through the tax filing process, the OISS has purchased Windstar, a web based tax return preparation software designed exclusively for international students, scholars, and their dependents who are nonresidents for tax purposes. It is available to anyone with a valid Pepperdine ID and PIN. Users will need their CWID and PIN to access the software.

Windstar is available to anyone with a valid Pepperdine ID and PIN. Users will need their CWID and PIN to access the Windstar site.

Due to legal restrictions, the OISS staff is not able to answer questions regarding individual tax situations.


For travel outside the United States the following documents are required for re-entry.

E-3 Visa Holders

  • Valid E-3 visa stamp in the passport
  • Valid passport
  • Current letter from faculty sponsor verifying your employment
  • Copy of Form I-797, E-3 Approval Notice if applicable

E-3 Dependent Visa Holders

  • Valid E-3 visa stamp in the passport
  • Valid passport
  • Copy of Form I-797, E-3 Approval Notice if applicable


An individual may hold E-3 visa status for up to two years and can be renewed indefinitely, provided the visa holder is able to demonstrate that he/she does not intend to remain or work permanently in the United States. Extensions of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years. E-3 visa holders have two options for extending their stay They may return to Australia and re-apply at the U.S. embassy or consulate with the same documentation that is required for an original application, or have the OISS file for an extension with USCIS. This option does not require the employee to leave the United States, but requires a USCIS filing fee of $460, and can take up to 4 months.

 Transfers and Leaving Pepperdine

If an E-3 visa holder wishes to leave Pepperdine to work for another employer, the new employer must file for a new Labor Condition Application while the E-3 visa holder is still working at Pepperdine. If an E-3 visa holder with another employer wishes to come to work for Pepperdine, the hiring department must notify the OISS so a Labor Condition Application can be filed on behalf of the incoming scholar.

Leaving Pepperdine

Prior to leaving Pepperdine a scholar needs to inform his/her department and the appropriate office(s) at the school or center with which s/he is affiliated. There is no official grace period at the end of an E-3 visa. If the individual leaves prior to the end date of the E-3 visa, s/he needs to inform the OISS.

For more information on the E-3 visa please visit the U.S. Consular Services website for Australia.