E3 Visa Process Guide for Applicants
Open exclusively to Australian nationals, the E-3 visa offers an attractive route to work in the USA. If you are eligible, you will need to follow the E3 visa process correctly and provide all the required documentation to avoid any potential issues or delays with your application.
We look at the steps you’ll need to take to secure an E3 visa.
Preparing your application
Before starting your application, you will need to ensure you satisfy the eligibility requirements.
The E3 visa is only available to Australian citizens. If you hold permanent residency in Australia, you will not be eligible for the E-3, you must have Australian citizenship.
You must also have a job offer in the US to perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one that demands theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields. The occupation must also require education to a bachelor’s degree level, or its equivalent, as a minimum.
E3 Visa USA process steps
Labor Condition Application
The E3 visa process officially starts with a Labor Condition Application (LCA).
This is filed by your new US employer with the Department of Labor and must be obtained to verify you will be paid the prevailing wage (ie the required level of wage) for the specific position for the region you will be based.
E3 application form & interview
Once the LCA has been received, the next stage is to complete the online application form (form DS 160). This requires you to provide information about yourself, your education, work and travel history. You will also need to upload a photograph, compliant with US visa photo requirements.
You will need to print off and retain the final confirmation page of the form.
You then arrange your visa interview at the US Consulate in your country of residence and pay the filing fee.
During the interview you will be required to submit supporting documents. You will need the following E3 documents for your application:
- Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker is required to apply for an Extension of Stay or Change of Employment or Change of Status to obtain/extend the E-3 nonimmigrant temporary worker status.
- Proof of your Australian Citizenship
- Proof of your education to bachelor’s degree level, or equivalent, or higher
- Your employer’s approved LCA
- Formal job offer from your employer including confirmation that the role is a specialty occupation
- If required by the US, the appropriate license to perform your occupation in the US or guarantee this will be applied for as soon as you arrive in the US.
If you attended a college outside of Australia or the United States, you must submit documentation proving that your degree is equivalent to an American bachelor’s degree or higher. If your qualifications are from an Australian institution, you do not usually need to provide certified copies or evidence of their U.S. equivalent.
If you did not attend college, you must provide evidence that your work experience is equivalent to the US degree required by your new position.
Where can you apply from?
From within the US, you can apply for a change of status to E3 nonimmigrant status.
Visa petitions from overseas are filed at a US Embassy or Consular post abroad, such as in Australia or your current country of residence. If you are intending to file from outside Australia, you are advised to check in advance of filing that the consular post does process the E-3 visa petitions from non-residents. You should also confirm the application process as there can be variations between posts.
The US Embassy in London for example is well-versed in the E-3 visa and offers excellent knowledge of Australian education institutions, which can be extremely beneficial when establishing your eligibility.
How long is E3 visa processing?
If you are filing from overseas, in most cases you will receive a decision straight away, unless there are issues with the petition and further information is requested by the Consular officer.
Petitions to adjust your status made within the US can take longer and will depend on USCIS caseload. There is an option for premium processing, by which you pay a fee for expedited processing.
Do you need help with an E3 application?
The E3 visa is certainly worth considering if you are an Australian looking to move to the US.
The E3 visa application process is relatively less onerous and less costly than other US visas such as the H1-B and L1 visa. E-3 petitions do not incur Fraud or ACWIA fees and there is no filing fee for the LCA.
NNU Immigration are specialists in US work visas, including the E3 visa applications. We can also help where you are starting a new job in the US with a new employer, as a new LCA and E3 visa will be needed. Contact us for professional support with your E3 visa application.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.