Are you an Australian citizen looking to relocate to the United States after receiving a job offer from a U.S. employer? The E3 Visa is exactly what you need! In this article, we will answer all the most commonly asked questions about E3 Visas.
What is an E-3 visa?
The E-3 visa is a visa category established in 2005, specifically for allowing Australian citizens to live and work in the United States in a specialty occupation.
E-3 visas are valid for up to 2 years. Provided the applicant can demonstrate that they do not intend to remain or work permanently in the U.S., the E-3 visa can be renewed and extended indefinitely.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible to apply for an E3 visa you must be an Australian citizen who holds a valid Australian passport. The applicant must have attained either a bachelor’s degree (or the equivalency of a bachelor’s degree) or 12 years or more of relevant work experience. The applicant must also gain sponsorship and a job offer to work in a specialty occupation from a U.S. employer before applying for an E-3 visa.
What are the requirements for an E-3 visa?
- You must be an Australian citizen and holding a valid Australian passport.
- You must have a job offer from a U.S. employer.
- As the applicant, you must have a 4-year bachelor’s degree or the equivalency based on professional experience.
- The proposed role in the United States must be one that would typically require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
- The sponsoring U.S. employer must be willing to pay you the required prevailing wage and obtain a certified Labor Condition Application from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- You must apply for the E-3 visa through an in-person visa interview at a U.S. Consulate.
How to apply
- Arrange a job offer from a U.S. employer who is willing to sponsor you for the E-3 visa.
- The U.S. employer or your legal team file the required Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Once the LCA is certified and supporting documentation is compiled you or your legal team can schedule a visa appointment through the U.S. Consulate in your region. In Australia, U.S. Consulates in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth review visa applications.
- The applicant and any family members applying for the dependent E-3D visa attend the visa interview in-person, providing the required documentation and LCA to the Consular Officer for review.
- The Consular Officer typically will approve or deny the E-3 application during the interview. If approved, the Consulate will mail back the applicant’s passport and E-3 visa.
How much does an E-3 visa cost?
Currently, the E-3 visa fee application fee is $205 USD per application. This fee is charged by the U.S. Consulate for the E-3 applicant as well as for each dependent family member applying for E-3D visas. The application fee is non-refundable if the visa is denied.
- E-3 visa application fees and legal fees can be paid by the applicant themselves or by the U.S. employer.
- To compare the cost of an E-3 visa with other U.S. visas, the AWCIA and USCIS fees add up to $5,000 USD.
- If your spouse will apply for work authorization once in the U.S., the USCIS fee is currently $410 USD.
- Legal fees will vary depending on the specific law firm and the services that are provided. Contact us to discuss your case.
What is the processing time?
Typically, we estimate E-3 visas can be approved anywhere from 6-8 weeks, from case initiation to the receipt of the E-3 visa. Processing times can vary depending on the U.S. employer, the timeliness of the applicant to provide the required documentation and the backlogs at the U.S. Consulate for visa appointments.
Can an E-3 visa holder apply for a green card?
Applying for a green card, or Legal Permanent Residency in the United States again requires sponsorship. Either a U.S. employer or an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident can sponsor an E-3 visa holder for residency. Additionally, many E-3 visa holders successfully apply for the Diversity Lottery each year.
Spouses and children
An E-3 visa holders’ spouse and children under the age of 21 will automatically qualify for an E-3D (Dependent) visa. They will be required to apply for the E-3D visa through the U.S. Consulate as well. Typically, children under the age of 14 are not required to attend the appointment in person.
A spouse on an E-3D visa can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after arriving in the United States. Once the EAD has been approved by the USCIS, the E-3D spouse can work in any role in the United States for any employer.
Please keep in mind that EAD applications processing times can vary greatly often taking several months before they are approved. Also, please note that U.S. immigration does not recognize de facto partnership – to qualify for an E-3D visa, the couple must be legally married.
Do you need an E-3 Visa lawyer to apply for an E-3 visa?
Most successful E-3 applications engage a U.S. immigration lawyer for assistance to prepare all the required documentation, obtain the required certifications from the U.S. Department of Labor, and ensure that the best E-3 application is submitted to the U.S. Consulate. While it is not a legal requirement, it is recommended to retain professional guidance and counsel with a legal team experienced with E-3 visas.
About The Author
Melissa Vincenty is a U.S. 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 U.S. immigration firm and more than 15 years as a Country Specialist (China and Tibet) for Amnesty International USA.
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