Are you an Australian citizen looking to temporarily relocate to the US after receiving a job offer from a US employer? The E3 Visa is exactly what you need! In this article, we will answer all the most commonly asked questions about E3 Visas including:
What is an E-3 visa?
The E-3 visa is a visa category established in 2005, specifically for allowing Australian citizens to work and live in the United States in a specialty occupation.
Who is eligible for an E-3 visa?
To apply for an E3 visa you must be a Australian citizen who has either a bachelor’s degree or the equivalency of a bachelor’s degree. You must also be sponsored by a US employer to work in a specialty occupation.
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 US 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 the equivalency.
- The sponsoring US employer must be willing to pay you the required prevailing wage and obtain a certified Labor Condition Application from the US Department of Labor.
- You must apply for the E-3 visa through an in-person visa interview at a US Consulate.
How to Apply for an E-3 visa?
- Receive a job offer from a US employer who is willing to sponsor the E-3 visa.
- The US employer or your legal team file the required Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the US Department of Labor.
- Once the LCA is certified and supporting documentation is compiled schedule a visa appointment through the US Consulate in your region. In Australia, US 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 US Consulate for 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 US employer. To compare with other US visas, the AWCIA and USCIS fees add up to $5,000 USD.
If your spouse will apply for work authorization once in the US, the USCIS fee is currently $410 USD.
Legal fees will vary depending on the specific law firm and the services that are provided.
What is the processing time for an E-3 visa?
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 US employer, the timeliness of the applicant to provide required documentation and the backlogs at the US Consulate for visa appointments.
How long is an E-3 visa valid?
E-3 visas are valid in 2-year increments and can be extended indefinitely.
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 US employer or an immediate relative who is a US 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.
For more information on US green cards check out our Green Card FAQ
Can a spouse work on an E-3 visa?
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 US 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 US 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 US immigration does not recognize de facto partnership – to qualify for an E-3D visa, the couple must be legally married.
Do you need a lawyer to apply for an E-3 visa?
Most successful E-3 applications engage a US immigration lawyer for assistance to prepare all the required documentation, obtain the required certifications from the US Department of Labor, and ensure that the best E-3 application is submitted to the US 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.
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