The United States has several different types of visas that allow for non-Americans to live and work in the US. Australian citizens are in a beneficial position because Australia and the United States have an arrangement that allows only Australian citizens to have access to the E-3 Specialty Occupation visa, allowing Australians to work in the United States. Not only is an E-3 visa significantly cheaper than other US work visas it also avoids the large backlogs of applicants that are associated with other US work visas
How can I get a job in the USA from Australia?
All US visas allowing work in the United States require you to have a US employer sponsor you for a specific job. Many US employers are willing to sponsor non-American citizens for work visas; however, on many occasions, your prospective employer may not be familiar with the E-3 visa category as it is only available for Australian citizens. Other visa categories are usually more expensive or extremely backlogged, so, if your prospective employer is turned-off by sponsoring you for a visa, make sure to mention the E-3 visa.
How do I get a work visa for the United States from Australia?
The first step in obtaining a work visa is to apply for jobs in the United States and receive a job offer from an employer in the US. All US work visas will require a US employer to sponsor you for your visa, so the first hurdle is to find a job with a US employer.
Most Australians who work in the United States are on E-3 visas. The E-3 Australian Specialty Occupation visa is only available for Australian citizens and must be for a position that the US Department of Labor determines is a role that would typically require a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in work experience.
Most other work visas such as H-1B visas or L-1 visas are applied for first through the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). With many employment visa petitions, the application may take several months to be reviewed by the USCIS.
Fortunately, the E-3 visa is typically applied for directly through the U.S. Consulate and the application bypasses the USCIS. This can save several months in USCIS backlogs and processing time. Additionally, the government fees when applying directly through the Consulate are much lower.
For more specific and detailed criteria for E-3 visa applications and applicants, please visit our E-3 FAQ Blog.
US working-holiday visa for Australian citizens
Many Australians have heard of the working holiday visa that is available for various people from around the world to come to Australia and work in almost any field for a short period of time. Unfortunately, the United States does not have such a program. Almost all work visas in the United States will require that the U.S. employer sponsor the visa application from the start. Additionally, most US visas require that the applicant have a bachelor’s degree or be in a position that is essential or specialised.
How much does a US work visa cost?
Government fees and legal fees can vary greatly depending on the visa category as well as the legal services that are provided by the particular law firm. For example, the H-1B specialty occupation government filing fees range from $1,960 USD to $6,460 USD depending on the size of the employer and the number of employees they have on H-1B visas. The E-3 Australian specialty occupation visa is one of the least expensive visa categories as the government filing fee is only $205 USD which is paid directly to the U.S. Consulate. Government fees are usually paid to either the US Citizenship and Immigration Service and/or directly to the US Consulate.
An applicant can expect that the legal fees associated with a visa application will likely range from $2,500 USD to $5,000 USD depending on the visa category and the services provided by the law firm.
How long is a work visa in the United States?
All visa categories in the United States have different amounts of time that allow you to live and work in the United States. The E-3 visa is granted in two-year increments and can be renewed indefinitely.
Who can sponsor me for a US work visa?
Any US employer can sponsor you to work in the United States. In most situations, the sponsor must be an existing and independent US employer – one that you do not own the majority of. There is no requirement that the employer be of a particular size or in a particular field. Individuals cannot sponsor you for a work visa.
The visa category will likely determine the documentation and evidence required by the US employer sponsor. With E-3 visas, the employer will be required to have someone in the company act as the signatory on legal documents related to your sponsorship. The employer will also have their business verified by the US Department of Labor as well as receive a certified Labor Condition Application.
From tourist visa to work visa in the United States?
Most Australian citizens travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) when traveling as a tourist or a business visitor. Unfortunately, individuals cannot change their visa status when they are in the US with the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA). It is generally required to first process your application through a US Consulate outside of the United States, normally in your home country.
We help Australians with visas for employment in the US
Most successful work visa applicants will engage a US immigration lawyer for assistance to prepare all of the required documentation and obtain the required certifications from the US Department of Labor, and ensure that the best work visa application is submitted to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service or the US Consulate. While it is not a legal requirement, it is recommended that you retain professional counsel with a legal team experienced with US employment visas.
Our highly experienced US immigration team at Worldwide Migration Partners are ready to help you with all US work visas, specifically the E-3 Australian Specialty Occupation visa. Please contact us to discuss your E-3 visa questions and we will happily assist you in your application.
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.