E-3 Visa Renewals and Extensions
Renewing your E-3 visa can be a confusing and stressful process and its complexity has only increased with travel restrictions and increasing delays at U.S. consulates. When deciding whether to renew your E-3 visa, extend your status from inside the U.S., or transfer to a new employer it is important to understand your options and seek qualified advice.
In this post WMP will outline several options for E-3 Visa Renewals and Extensions, and explain how validity dates on your I-94 and LCA can differ from your visa, affecting your legal status in the United States.
- How to Renew Your E-3 Visa at a U.S. Consulate
- E-3 Extension of Status with USCIS inside the U.S.
- What to do if my E-3 Visa Extension is Denied?
- Understanding Visa, I-94, and LCA Validity Dates
- E-3 Visa Transfers (Changing Employers)
- E-3 Premium Processing
- E-3 Policy Changes
How to Renew Your E3 Visa at a U.S. Consulate
In order to renew your E-3 visa, you will need to obtain a new visa stamp. To do this, you are required to either attend a visa appointment in-person at a U.S. Consulate, or if you are able to return to Australia, you can renew your visa through a mail-in process subject to meeting eligibility criteria.
The in-person appointment at a U.S. Consulate will be similar to your original E-3 visa appointment and you will be required to provide the same documentation. The mail-in process follows the same documentation guidelines but you will not have to book an appointment to visit the consulate in person.
E-3 Visa Renewal General Requirements:
- Continuous sponsored employment in the United States by your U.S. Employer.
- Employment in a position that is considered a specialty occupation.
- A valid Labor Condition Application (LCA) issued by the Department of Labor (DOL)
- Non-immigrant intent i.e. you intend to return to your home country upon expiration of your visa.
If you meet the requirements and have your renewal approved, you will receive a new visa label in your passport.
Recommended visa renewal locations will vary depending on business needs, timeframes and visa interview availability at the Consular post. While U.S. Consular posts in Canada or Mexico may seem like a convenient choice, over the past few years the availability of appointments for third-country nationals has been extremely limited.
Recent changes in policy have appointment availability be pushed back depending on the applicants citizenship, leading to much longer wait times outside of an applicants home country.
U.S. Visa Renewal in Australia
We recommend Australian citizens plan their E-3 visa renewal appointment to coincide with a trip back to Australia as it is often easier to secure E-3 appointments at a U.S. Consulate in Australia. With the mail-in option only available in Australia, it is a safe option and more predictable method to ensure you will be able to get a visa renewed within specific travel dates.
As with all international travel and U.S. immigration issues, you will need to make sure to plan ahead for your E-3 Visa renewal, since policy and availability of appointments can change.
Appointment Backlogs at U.S. Consulates
U.S. Consulates in Australia and globally are currently experiencing higher delays and backlogs in recent years, though are starting to resume a reasonable level of appointment availability for some visa classes.
In years past, it could have been possible to obtain an in-person E-3 appointment in a week or two, though currently, even in Australia the backlogs can be a few weeks to several months.
The shift toward a mail-in option in Australia has circumvented the longer wait times for in-person appointments, minimizing unpredictable availability, and providing a reliable process for E-3 visa renewals.
E-3 Extension of Status with USCIS Inside the U.S.
If you are looking to continue living and working in the U.S., you may choose to extend your E-3 status from within the United States through the USCIS.
If you are wanting to extend your E-3 Visa status from inside the U.S. and have the same employer, you are authorised to file a petition to extend your status with USCIS. Upon filing, you will be automatically granted a continuation of the E-3 Visa status for 240 days whilst the petition is being reviewed.
If utilizing Expedited Premium Processing with the USCIS, your status can be reviewed and changed quickly, guaranteeing your application will be processed by the USCIS within 15 days.
It is important to note that E-3 visa holders cannot be issued a new visa stamp without attending an in-person interview at a U.S. Consulate outside of the United States, or through the mail-in process in Australia.
If the E-3 holder has left the U.S border, regardless of USCIS status, a valid visa stamp will be required for re-entry and to continue working in the U.S.
What's the Difference Between Renewal and Extension of Status?
An extension of your E-3 status with USCIS authorises you to legally remain in the United States and continue working. However, If you travel outside the U.S. for any reason, you will be required to hold a valid E-3 Visa label for re-entry to continue your employment.
A visa renewal at a U.S. consulate or via mail-in renewal in Australia, allows you to leave and re-enter the U.S. subject to the terms of your visa. An extension of status of your E-3 visa is a stop-gap only, and only delays the need for renewal at a consulate.
It is important to seek proper counsel from an experienced immigration lawyer whether an extension of status is suitable for your situation. For general information about extending your E-3 status with USCIS, see their PDF: How do I extend my nonimmigrant stay in the United States?
What to Do If My E-3 Visa Extension Is Denied?
Denied prior to the expiration of your I-94: If your I-94 departure date has not yet expired, then you still have time to make a decision concerning your case.
Denied after the expiration of your I-94: If you filed the extension application before the expiration of your current I-94, you remain in lawful status as long as the application is pending or for 240 days, whichever comes first. See the USCIS Handbook for Employers - 6.7 Extensions of Stay for Other Nonimmigrant Categories M-274
If the response is a denial, and your I-94 has expired, the USCIS generally allows you 30 days to depart the U.S. starting from the date on the letter notifying you of their decision to deny your extension. If you do not depart within 30 days, you will be considered deportable. If your I-94 has expired you will also start accruing unlawful presence from the date of the denial.
Outside of transferring your status, you may be able to appeal your case or file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider. Further information about filing an appeal can be found on the USCIS Questions and Answers: Appeals and Motions page.
If you are in the U.S. and your E-3 Extension or Change to a new employer has been denied, we advise you to contact a U.S. Immigration Lawyer immediately. Worldwide Migration Partners is a specialist on E-3 Visa renewals and extensions so please contact us to get timely advice on the best course of action.
Visa, I-94, and LCA Validity Dates
It is important to know that your E-3 visa has several components to it and all three may have different expiration dates.
The I-94 Arrival-Departure Form
The I-94 expiration date is the most important date to keep track of during your stay in the U.S. If you are in the U.S. when your I-94 expires and you have not taken any steps to extend your stay, you may start accruing unlawful status which can result in serious penalties if you are considering re-entering the United States.
The I-94 validity period determines how long you are allowed to remain in the United States in E-3 status. The I-94 is updated upon each entry into the U.S. and the most recent I-94 can be obtained online here. When entering the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will issue your I-94 to be valid for a full 2-years upon the date of entry.
It is important to keep in mind that if your passport is set to expire during your stay, your I-94 may be shorter than your visa expiration date.
E-3 Visa Label in Your Passport
The visa label in your passport only determines when you can enter the United States, and the circumstances which are you are entering. In many situations, an I-94 validity period may be much longer than your E-3 visa validity. In these circumstances, you may not be required to file an E-3 extension of status if your I-94 status is valid for a longer period of time than your visa, though to continue to work and remain in lawful status, you will need to be working under a valid Labor Condition Application.
Labor Condition Application
The Labor Condition Application (LCA) is the Department of Labor (DOL) document that was required to be certified when you received your E-3 visa. The validity date normally is close to your visa validity dates, however, it is important to note that in order to stay in compliance throughout your E-3 stay, you must also have a valid Labor Condition Application.
This is a requirement for every E-3 visa application, renewal and extension. If you believe your I-94 expiration is valid longer than your E-3 visa or LCA, please contact our office to develop a strategy where you can remain in compliance with U.S. immigration and the Department of Labor.
For more information on how these components can effect your legal status in the United States, please view the following video and read the article E-3 Visa Renewal Tips | Understanding Passport, I-94 and LCA Validity.
E3 Visa Transfers (Changing Employers)
If you're residing in the U.S. and need to change your employer, the process is similar to extending your status with a current employer and requires the filing of a new LCA, and Form I-129 with the USCIS.
The second option is to leave the United States and process a new E-3 Visa application at a US Consulate.
With the advent of premium processing, and mail in options for visa applications in Australia, both options are now a viable alternative and avoid excessive delays in starting with a new employer.
For more information see our detailed article on Amending Current E-3 Visas and Changing Employers
E-3 Premium Processing
In 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that individuals requesting a change or an extension of status for their E-3 classification on Form I-129 will have the option to request a premium processing service.
What is Premium Processing?
Premium processing provides a processing alternative for various visas requiring an adjustment of status, inclusive of the E-3 Visa, guaranteeing a processing turnaround of 15 business days
The standard processing time can take up to 6-8 months, but the USCIS premium processing services allow individuals to pay an additional fee, to expedite their decision in a much shorter time frame.
This service will assist those Australian citizens who are currently residing in the United States that are seeking to apply to amend their current E-3 visa, to change their U.S. employer, to change their status, or to extend their status from within the United States.
For more information see our detailed article on E-3 Premium Processing
E-3 Policy Changes
E-3 visa policy often changes. While the E-3 visa often goes 'under the radar' from immigration politics and the national publicity of the immigration debate in the United States, this does not keep the E-3 visa immune from policy changes.
Many times, with the E-3 visa, independent U.S. Consulates determine their own policy in relation to discretionary points of law. Here at Worldwide Migration Partners, we have seen numerous changes in E-3 visa interpretations over the past few years, whereas the actual regulations have not changed at all.
It is critical to plan in advance with the right legal team to ensure that your E-3 employment will not be impacted. To stay up to date with any policy changes be sure to join our mailing list or follow us on social media.
Help with an E-3 Visa Renewal or Extension?
Whether or not you worked with Worldwide Migration Partners on your original E-3 application, we would be happy to assist in your E-3 renewal or extension, wherever you plan to submit the application. Our team follows E-3 visa policy trends, timing issues, and closely monitors the E-3 visa as we are the most up to date US Immigration Law firm in Australia.
Contact us to get started on your E-3 renewal or extension.
About The Author
Melissa Vincenty is a U.S. Attorney, a registered Australian Migration Agent and the founder and managing director of Worldwide Migration Partners. Melissa has over 25 years of experience in U.S. Immigration Law, including practising at the world’s largest U.S. Immigration Firm and more than 15 years as a Country Specialist (China and Tibet) for Amnesty International USA.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is general in nature, may not, and is not intended to constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information, and is for general informational purposes only. It does not represent legal advice specific to any individual/s situation, and should not be relied on as such. Please contact us for a consultation for legal advice for your individual circumstances.