At this time of year, due to the amount of travel back and forth to Australia, we get a lot of questions about how to renew E-3 visas. Understanding the time frame and requirements of renewing an E-3 visa allows you to coordinate your travel back to Australia or to other countries where there are consulates to attend an E-3 renewal appointment. Let’s explore the different ways you can renew or extend an E-3 visa while you’re in the U.S. or on your next visit to Australia.
The first priority in any travel-related work, check your passport validity, if it is set to expire within the next two years we recommend renewing your passport, especially prior to completing an E-3 renewal. There is a mail-in renewal process for Australian passports in the United States, however, this doesn’t apply to children's passports. Double-check any children's passports at this time too, keeping in mind they are only valid for five years, not ten. This can take a matter of days if you use expedited processing, so keep this in mind when traveling and applying for E-3 renewals back in Australia.
The next priority that is always recommended is to check your I-94 validity whenever you’re traveling. Remember, your visa is the knock on the door to enter or reenter the U.S., the I-94 is the entry document. This can be checked online, or forwarded to you by your attorney. Double-checking your I-94 provides you with enough time to catch any mistakes made, and correct them before continuing travel or renewal processes.
Finally, prior to your E-3 renewal process, we recommend checking your LCA expiration. Your LCA is your Underlying Work Authorisation, which works alongside your I-94 visa.
These three things are always what needs to be checked in terms of applying for renewal on an E-3 status. Check that all three will be valid together, and check your LCA won’t expire prematurely to your I-94 or your E-3 visa expirations.
There are three ways to renew your E-3 status that we’re going to explore. Let's look at the ways you can renew your E-3 via, or extend your E-3 status in the United States.
The first option to renew or extend an E-3 visa is by completing an onshore application to USCIS, which will merely extend your E-3 status by another two years. This process can be helpful if you can’t leave the U.S. and can’t obtain a new visa. It is a one-step process at a consulate, or doing a mail-in process. This is a great option to work around a busy lifestyle to ensure your E-3 status is still valid.
The USCIS extension of status can be complicated at times, so if you are considering staying onshore in order to extend your E-3 status, contact your attorney to walk you through what that process may look like, and discuss if it's suitable to your situation.
Another change to the USCIS onshore application is that they now offer premium processing for those petitions. Often a lengthy process, which is why we don’t typically recommend it, this premium process cuts down on that time. It’s an additional $2,500 fee on the petition but provides certainty with a 15-day turnaround, ideal for people needing work certainty or in circumstances. We strongly urge anyone considering these options to contact us to discuss if they are the most suitable choice.
Next, let’s look at getting an E-3 renewed or extended at a consulate or embassy abroad. This is the most popular way to extend or renew an E-3 status, mostly due to timing. This is ideal to add to existing travel plans to Australia, or other countries, making it very convenient. These applications are generally referred to as one-step applications, as they are in short simply extending the E-3 status you’ve already had, and getting a new E-3 visa at the same time, which will be valid for two years. This is ideal if you travel a lot and need to ensure you have a valid visa to be able to return to the United States easily. In this case, we can coordinate with you ahead of time, ideally six months, to talk about travel plans to line up this process with existing or necessary travel plans.
With this process, you have to attend an appointment at a consulate abroad or complete a mail-in application in Australia. First, we’re going to talk about the in-person appointment. At most consulates and embassies around the world, you are able to make an appointment as a third-country national to get an E-3 visa. However, some are more familiar with the E-3 visa process and therefore will offer more appointments, understanding this and finding the best place for you will streamline the process. We tend to recommend London, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt, The Bahamas, for example. Check with your attorney ahead of time to find the option we’d recommend for your travel plans.
These appointments are also available in Australia, in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney, and are typically booked out a month or so in advance. The advantage to returning to Australia when doing a renewal is using the mail-in process. More popular in the last few years, applicants can mail in their applications and will typically have their response within two weeks. We recommend sending in the application as soon as you arrive in Australia to limit any deadlines and allow time to make any necessary flight changes.
One thing to keep in mind if you have children is the possibility of them requiring an actual appointment. If they were under 14 and have celebrated a birthday, they now need to attend an in-person appointment to renew their status, which we recommend doing in Australia. Once they’ve completed this, they can then go on to complete the mail-in option for future renewals.
Another update that has occurred during Covid is that E-3 spouses are now given automatic work authorization. This is a great step toward providing independence and streamlining renewal processes. This means you’ll be able to work straight away and get your social security number if it's your first time.
The processing of renewing or extending an E-3 can be stressful, in most part due to the timing. There are no surprises doing the process, but ensuring you have all appropriate paperwork and plans coordinated to streamline the process can ease a lot of stress and concern. We recommend marking out six months prior to your visa expiration date to contact us, so we can walk you through the best plan of attack for that process. Renewals are indefinite, you can continue to apply for them as long as you need them and an E-3 doesn’t directly result in a green card.
If you find yourself having any questions about E-3 renewals, applications, or any other visa or travel concerns, reach out to us at Worldwide Migration Team and we’ll be happy to help. From the entire Worldwide Migration Team, we wish you safe travels and seamless E-3 applications. Aloha!
About The Author
Melissa Vincenty is a US attorney, an Australian migration agent and the founder and managing director of Worldwide Migration Partners. Melissa has over 20 years of experience in migration law, including practising at the world’s largest US immigration firm and more than 15 years as a Country Specialist (China and Tibet) for Amnesty International USA.
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