Skip to content
Home » General » The difference between extending an E3 status (I-129) and renewing an E3 visa 2023

The difference between extending an E3 status (I-129) and renewing an E3 visa 2023

There is basically constant confusion online as to the difference between extending your E3 status in the United States, and actually renewing your E3 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad. So what’s the major difference between the two and which one should you do? Do they impact each other and can they help each other?

I spend a lot of time on Facebook groups and in chats with people asking each other how to make sure they can stay working in the United States on an E3 visa. Ultimately this comes down to two choices: renewing your E3 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate, or, extending your E3 status in the United States through USCIS (via an I-129).

The two of these are significantly different, and it’s important you understand the differences between the two before deciding on a path.

What’s the difference between “status” and a visa?

This is at the core of the question and it’s good that you’re asking, here’s immigration lawyer, Doug Lightman from Lightman Immigration talking with me about it.

Here’s the breakdown: “A visa allows you to request entry into the United States.” When you enter, you are now in an E3 visa “status”. The visa allows you to enter into a status in the United States.

Now, let’s explain the process for each:

How to renew your E3 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate

In this scenario you are ultimately going to end up with a new visa sticker (they call it a stamp, but it’s a sticker) in your passport. This will have a date that is up to 2 years in the future and the visa is the pass that allows you to enter the United States from overseas.

A renewal of an E3 visa is virtually identical to getting the inital E3 visa that you already have:

  1. You get a new certified LCA for the dates of your employment;
  2. You fill in a DS-160;
  3. You make an appointment at an embassy or consulate*
  4. You attend an appointment with all of this in your hand;
  5. You get approved and they take your passport;
  6. You collect (or are sent) your passport with a new visa stamp in it.

You’ll find the step-by-step process to getting an E3 visa here and there are guides for how to do all of these steps on there.

This is the ideal scenario, but you’ll notice I put a little * next to #3, because right now, due to COVID, this step is nearly impossible to achieve without an approved emergency appointment or some extreme luck. More on that below.

How to extend your E3 status while staying in the United States (via USCIS)

This is a slightly more difficult process because USCIS scrutinizes applications a bit more closely than the embassies and consulates do. The concept is the same, but the practice is different.

If you are in legal status in the United States, you can file to extend that using a new LCA and an I-129 (but not in all cases). It’s a bunch of paperwork sent off to USCIS and while that’s processing you generally have to stay in the country.

When you file internally to extend your status, you also immediately get 240 more days status (your status is defined by your I-94) without even getting the approval back. This is a great stop-gap while we wait for consulates and embassies to re-open!

This paperwork gets returned with an approval or an “RFE” (Request for Evidence) which requires you to send more information about yourself, the job, and the employer (all or some of this).

Once you are approved, you can stay in the country for as long as your status has been extended (generally in-line with your LCA).

Please note: If you have dependents, or if your visa isn’t an E3, or a multitude of other conditions, this might not be right for you. Be sure to consult with an immigration attorney before you do this, because I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Update February 24, 2021: USCIS has recently announced premium processing for E-3 visas meaning that internally changing status has come down from months to weeks!

So what’s the difference between the two?

The fundamental difference between the two is that the visa allows you to remain in the country AND then re-enter if you leave (on holiday, or for any other reason), whereas the status allows you to remain in the United States only.

If you extend your status in the United States, you can keep working and remain legally in the country, but once you leave, you’re out, you have to go through the whole application at the embassy or consulate from above if you want to re-enter.

Why would I want to extend my status and not get a new visa (especially during COVID)?

So the question I get asked a lot is why would you need to use this path?

The answer is that throughout COVID we’ve seen that many places where you would normally get a new visa or renew an old visa are no longer open to applications and you therefore can’t actually use their services!

For this reason, the extension of status is a great solution so you can remain working with your current employer and remain legally in the country for longer! Once embassies and consulates open again, you would then go there, get a new visa, re-enter and we’re back to square one!

When you file internally to extend your status, you also immediately get 240 more days status (your status is defined by your I-94) without even getting the approval back. This is a great stop-gap while we wait for consulates and embassies to re-open!

Can you change employer with a change of status and remain in the United States?

Yes, but it’s tough because right now it’s taking around 6-9 months to get the confirmation back and you can’t work with the new employer during that wait time. You also can’t leave the country and return (if your visa has expired already).

A new visa would allow you to get a new employer and re-enter right away.

Does an extension in the US affect my E3 visa renewal when I do leave the United States and file for a renewal?

When you receive an approval in the US and are holding an I-797A there may come a time where you want to leave the US and get an actual visa.

This USCIS internal extension doesn’t really do anything when it comes to filing for a new visa at a US Embassy or Consulate (unfortunately). You should definitely bring it along and have it on-hand as it would be supportive of your application, but in and of itself it doesn’t really change anything.

The process is the same: You need to do everything like you would if you had not gotten the internal extension.

Can I re-use an LCA for an E3 visa renewal if I used the same LCA fora USCIS extension?

Yes, but you likely don’t want to.

LCAs don’t get “used up”, they are simply a document from the Department of Labor that says your employer has the legal right to offer employment to you. You then take that support with you when you get an extension or renewal, but it’s not attached to that particular extension/renewal in any way.

So yes, you can file again with the same LCA, but you likely don’t want to do that because it will mean that you are missing out on good visa time available to you.

Why do I say this? Well let’s say you filed internally, and got a 2 year extension, then stay in the US for 1 year. Half way through your extension. If you leave the US and go to a Consulate or Embassy for a renewal, and use the same LCA, the LCA will show that you are only able to be employed for one more year (in line with your extension) so your visa will reflect that too.

If you instead filed for a new LCA, then you would be able to keep working for up to two years on that approved visa. A much better solution, especially when getting a visa appointment is such a painful process.

How do I do all this extending and renewing?

Speak to an immigration attorney, here are some I trust!

This stuff isn’t all that straight forward and you don’t want to run afoul of immigration, especially if your plan is to live and work in the US for a while longer.

Don’t mess around.

70 thoughts on “The difference between extending an E3 status (I-129) and renewing an E3 visa 2023”

  1. Pingback: USCIS Expands Premium Processing Service to E-3 Visas (I-129s) 2021 | America Josh

    1. Hi Josh, I’m renewing my E3 outside of the country at a consulate TBC. I understand that I have to pick a consulate, pay the appointment fee and go for the soonest date available for that consulate and keep an eye out for cancellations. But if the only appointments are just too far away. Do you know if you can withdraw or cancel your appointment and start the process with another consulate? Does this effect your LCA in anyway? Can you keep canceling and try to book at other consulates?

  2. Hi Josh,

    My attorney received a RFE for my E3 extension, my I-94 and visa expired, so I am in 240 day period. Shortly my work location is also changing for the same employer, so I need to apply for an amendment as well.

    Is it a good idea to get a LCA with new location, then travel overseas consulate and get it stamped?, so both my extension and location amendment will be taken care off.

    Any idea what happens to RFE and initial extension application? Should my employer withdraw that after I re-enter with new visa stamp?


    1. Hi Reddy!
      I think yeah it may be better to leave and get the whole thing done again outside of the country (with the benefits of a visa stamp). Right now, unfortunately, that’s a tough one because most consulates and embassies are closed. Do you know how long you have to answer the RFE?

  3. Hi Josh,

    I just accepted an offer for a new position within the same company in San Francisco. I just had my E3 visa renewed under my current role back in Dec of 2020 in Melbourne when I flew back. The immigration lawyers are recommending I file for a E3 amendment and extension because of the new role. They said once this is processed and approved I will be permitted to leave the US and return, is this true?

    Thanks very much for your help.

    1. Hey Tish! Hmm that’s a very good question. It would be my default understanding that no, if you’ve filed for an amendment, your visa is no longer valid but I could be very wrong about that! I’ll look into it asap!

      1. Hey Josh,

        I have had my E-3 visa renewed in-country and it’s valid until 2024. However, because it was done in-country, I don’t have a stamp in my passport. I have an embassy appointment in London on Sep 19, and I have my LCA, DS-160, employment contract etc. Can I ask your advice on the right wording to use at the embassy during the interview? I’m not applying for a new E-3, I just need a stamp in my passport, but I don’t really know how to phrase that correctly. Grateful for any advice you have!


  4. I’m renewing my E3 visa and a lawyer has told me I need I now need my academic transcript evaluated? When I first got it, they didn’t even ask for my Academic Transcript, is this something that people have found necessary? They want to charge me $500 for it! If its required, can you recommend a service I can scan my docs and get them “evaluated”?

  5. Hi Josh, just wondering if you could recommend any hot tips for how to file your i-129 for those of us who can’t afford a lawyer to do it for us? Is it too difficult to do independently? I’ve filled out the form, have my W-2, pay stubs and money order, is there more to it than I’m seeing or can I go ahead and file independently?

    1. Hi Michael! Ooh that’s getting out of my depth sorry! I don’t actually know how to do it, as I haven’t been through that one myself and generally recommend speaking to an attorney. I do understand there’s a cost involved that can be significant! Maybe somebody else will comment with more tips.

      1. Hi Josh my LCA is valid until 02/28/2023, however my passport and visa needs renewing. Is this as easy as making an appointment with a US consulate (Houston my closest) and starting there? Or can I do a mail in back to Melbourne Australia?

  6. Hi Josh, My employer has filed for E3 Extension with USCIS, with a change of work location in the LCA, and since there is slight change to my previously approved visa(now it’s different work location, same Employer), so I would like to know if I am still allowed to work(240 Day Period) until the petition is approved.

  7. Hi Josh (love your blog, sliver of hope in a sea of confusing government guidance 😀 )

    I was granted a waiver for my initially declined E-3 visa due to some old infringements. Am I able to apply for an extension or the process further complicated? My Visa expires in January so I’m wondering how I’d go about this process.

    1. Hi G! Thank you for the kind words!! Ooh, this is a very good question. My advice would be definitely speak to an immigration attorney. While it can be done without, I would highly recommend involving one in your situation as it will take some nuance and experience! I can recommend a few options if you need them.

      1. Hi I came on an e3 with an employer. The employment was about to end and my spouse got a permanent job offer. We applied e3 for her under premium processing and also requested for change of my status from e3 to e3s. Do yiu know what the approximate timelines are for the e3s approval within US. We did get the e3 approval within 2 weeks.

  8. Hi Josh,

    I just got my extension with USCIS approved. If I’m wanting to get the visa sticker can I take that approval to an embassy and get the stamp or do I need to do all the forms for an E3 at an embassy as I did with the initial visa I got approved?

    Cheers, Steve.

      1. Hi Josh,

        Appreciate the article.

        My E3 visa had expired early this year. However I still remain in the US under my current I94.

        With an expired E3, what would be the best option in my circumstance. To try fly abroad and get it done in a consulate, or remain in the US and file for an extension. Will I be eligible for an extension if my E3 is expired?

        I preferably wouldn’t mind staying in the US while the extension process goes on. Just wondering if I’d be eligible.

        1. So if your E3 is expired, you are technically meant to leave the country within 10 days of it expiring, so I would definitely be careful about filing internally. Best speak to an immigration attorney!

  9. HI Josh,
    I am a textile designer who has been with the same company for 4 years. Because of Covid I could not get back to Aust (despite having booked everything- my flight was cancelled). I applied for the I-129. Just received an RFE which is EXTENSIVE! I have until Jan 27 2022 to respond. Can I leave the country and try to get my renewal while RFE is still pending or can I withdraw my application with USCIS? And if my application for extension is denied- can I leave the country and submit another E3 for my existing job or a new one?

    1. Hi Nicola! It is my understanding that your leaving the country is considered abandoning your I-129, and yes, you can go to a consulate and go that way instead whether it’s pending or denied.

      Always good to confirm that with an immigration attorney, as I don’t know the process to withdraw an application (as opposed to abandoning it!)

  10. Hi Josh,
    My E-3 expired, however my renewal was approved in July (I have the I-797A / I-94). I had to come to London urgently last minute and my employer said that I would be able to travel back into the US with my passport containing my expired stamp along with the I-797A and I-94. Is this correct or do I need an updated stamp?
    How do I get the updated stamp? Do I need to apply for the DS-160 again? I already have it approved so it’s just a matter of getting a stamp….

    My flight is in a couple of days so trying to figure this out as quickly as possible. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Antonia, it is my understanding that you can’t re-enter without a valid visa. You could possibly re-enter if you were in Mexico, Canada, or surrounding islands only. I believe there’s also an exception if you have a valid visa for another employer, and your I-797A but not the combination you have.

      So yes, to get a new stamp, you would need a new DS-160 and a new appointment. Unfortunately, there’s no real “just getting the stamp” it’s a whole new process.

      I would strongly advise speaking to another immigration specialty attorney to make sure before you go!

  11. Hi Josh

    Thanks for your service, your website has a wealth of information.

    I have an approved E3 with my employer at his office work location, now because of remote work flexibility, I am planning to move to a different state (which is in a different MSA)
    Except for location change, everything else remains the same about my job.

    One attorney said that a new LCA for the new location is just enough, no E3 visa amendment is needed.
    Other colleagues who are on H1B under similar situations are amending their visas.

    Do you know an E3 visa amendment is needed when there is only a work location change (in new MSA), or just an LCA will do?


    1. Hi Reddy, you’re very welcome! I believe an LCA should be fine if the job and pay remains exactly the same. It’s always the extra caustious option to do the full extension/change but I think you should be fine with the LCA.

  12. Hi Josh just found your blog and really interested to see if you might be able to help my husband has an approved E3 visa renewed my E3D is taking time and so I am under the 240 days I am not sure why he’s has been approved and mine is still showing as received. do you have any advice on what to do next?

      1. Thanks Josh I guess I just need to wait patiently I don’t understand why mine is still showing as received I have 120 days left?

  13. Hi Josh!
    Thank you for your amazing website and wealth of information! It really has been so useful!
    Unfortunately, my work has decided to use their immigration lawyer, who unfortunately I don’t feel has that much of an idea of E3 visas… anyway. My current E3 visa for this employer expired on 01/14/22 and she was supposed to file for the extension prior to that date, however, that didn’t happen and we are still waiting on the LCA to be approved. The biggest question that I can’t seem to find an answer to (and she won’t reply to my multiple emails/calls)… Am I legally allowed to work now that my visa is expired?! My 1-94 doesn’t expire until 12/28/22 but I really can’t see how this is legal and I don’t want to get thrown out of the country!

    Again, appreciate any and all advice you can give!



    1. Thanks Austin! Eek. I would definitely grab a hold of another lawyer. You can find some on this site! If your E3 has expired, and you haven’t filed with USCIS yet, you are meant to leave the country within 10 days. Your I-94 is valid for longer (which is good because you definitely don’t want to overstay that one), but from my understanding, you are meant to be out. You definitely cannot work.

  14. Hi Josh, this blog is great and super insightful !!

    I have a couple of questions that you might help me with to make a decision on what to do next.

    My previous employer made my role redundant last Friday, and fortunately, I have a job offer of a new employer this week, subject to approval of E3 visa renewal.

    I have a an approved and valid I-129 that was renewed by my former employer on March 2021, and will expire in March 2023.

    My new employer will file the E-3 petition under premium processing so the USCIS will review the petition within 15 calendar days after filing.

    Unfortunately, my Australian passport is expiring in 22nd March, 2022, and I submit its renewal at the Australian Consulate yesterday. As you might be aware, it will take around 6 weeks for my new passport to arrive home in the US.

    1) do you know if my previous employer will cease or communicate that I am no longer working with them? If so, can I stay for 60 days or can I stay until March 2023? can I stay for either getting a new job that facilitate my E3 visa renewal or extension? or should I start preparing to leave the country?

    2) Since there is overlap between E3 premium processing timing and the passport renewal process, is there an option where USCIS can approve the E3 with my current passport. Or the approval can only take place until I get my new passport?

    3) I have dual citizenship (Mexican), in case my Australian passport complicated my E3 renewal, is there a similar premium processing to be able to work for my new employer with the Mexican passport?

    Of course I am concerned as my new employer can and will be open to wait for my visa to get renewed, but maybe not to add 6 more weeks for the passport renewal.

    I hope you can help me with your insight. Many thanks in advance.

    Best regards.


    1. Hi Alonso, thanks so much for the kind words, I’m so glad the site has helped. I’m really sorry to hear about the redundancy, but great to hear you’ve got next steps.

      1. Once you’ve filed your I-129 application, and received a receipt notice, you are ok to stay for up to 240 days or until your application is processed. So this shouldn’t be an issue. But as a note: It doesn’t matter whether the employer has filed or not, it’s still 60 days for those who lose their employment.

      2. I’m not 100% sure on how this bit works with the expiring passport sorry, but generally it’s tied to whatever passport is valid for you, so I don’t THINK it will be an issue.

      3. An E3 is only available to Australian citizens, so I don’t think your Mexican citizenship will come into play with this one (and I wouldn’t risk it, myself).

      Fingers crossed it all comes back soon but I would imagine you shouldn’t have an issue. My passport came back in only a week or two when I did mine last year!

  15. Hey Josh,

    The E-3 world can be very confusing and your blogs are often the only way I can get easy to understand information, so thank you!

    I wonder if you know, can I apply for an E-3 visa stamp at a US consulate while an I-129 is still pending approval? Or do I need to wait the 4-6 months processing time for approval before I can then leave the US for a consulate? I’m in my 240 day window waiting for approval, but I have an opportunity to leave the US and therefore get to an embassy and would love to do that so I can have a renewed stamp for travel.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jacqui, it’s my understanding that if you leave the US while waiting for an I-129 it’s considered abandoned so that works for you to go to a consulate, yes. You don’t need to wait. Go get that visa!

      1. Hey Josh, I recently extended my status in country (incl an RFE), any chance I’m eligible for mail-in visa stamping when I’m back in Aus later this year? Cheers

  16. Hey Josh,

    I am an Australian citizen on F1 visa doing a Ph.D. which will be completed next year. I have received a job offer and my employer will lodge the E3 visa on my behalf. But I would also like to continue my Ph.D. part-time. Am I allowed to work full-time and study part-time on an E3 visa?

  17. Hi Josh,

    First of all, Thank you for the great blog. Could not find information that is so useful anywhere else.

    I have a question regarding Expanded Visa interview waiver. ( Based on the information, E-3 might be eligible for expanded visa interview waiver.

    I am on E-3 Visa in USA for 3 years.
    My employer has recently processed my E-3 extension and it was approved a few months back((I-797A Approval notice). My visa stamping is not done yet as I have not travelled outside of USA after the approval.

    Now, I want to travel to out of USA to visit my family. I want to check what my options are for Visa stamping.

    Am i eligible for in-person visa stamping waiver? or Do I need to go for Visa stamping. If I am eligible for visa interview waiver, how do i know it. Is it after applying for visa interview?

    I am also considering going to Canada or Mexico for visa stamping. Please suggest my options.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Anil, thanks for the kind words! The only place that I know of that waives the interview element for an E-3 is in Melbourne, Australia. You can do an application by mail but you do need to be in Australia to be able to do this.

  18. Hi America Josh – thanks for your helpful blogs. My wife and I have had our E-3s extended for another two years through USCIS, but we need to lots of travel this year for weddings etc.

    Would really appreciate finding out where are some good consulates that Australians can go overseas (other than Australia) to get their E-3 visas. For example, I’ve heard that Bahamas is a good spot, but would love up to date examples.

    Ever heard of success with E-3s in Brazil?

  19. hi josh,

    ive mailed in my E3 renewal at the Auckland Embassy in NZ since this is my place of abode. Its been three weeks and it says application received as opposed to my mates who mailed it in Melbourne and got it in two weeks. I have a start date with my company and am worried i might not be able to make that. Ive mailed the embassy and just got a generic email back they dont entertain when calls ! pls advise.

  20. Hi Josh! So appreciate all your insight.

    I’m filing for an i-129 change of employer and my employer and I are yet to receive a receipt notice. Are you familiar with how long this part takes or what form from your experience?

    Without a receipt notice we’re very stuck and unable to check on anything.

    It’s been received safely and signed for and yet no word. A little worried as you can imagine!

    Thanks in advance!

  21. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for all this great information that you share with this community – it’s really helpful!

    My E3 is about to expire next month and i went to book an appointment in Dublin. Having gone through Irish US consulate website to do this, it ended up asking me to mail in my documents rather than do an in person interview. Have you heard of situations like this where a mail in can work at embassy’s other than Australian ones? I was just a bit surprised it didn’t give me the option to book an in person appointment.


  22. Hi Josh
    Might be getting a new job with different company in the usa. Planning to exit the country and apply for new E3 visa in either mexico or canada. Im having trouble trying to confirm on the websites if I can apply for the E3 in any of their embassy/consulates or if its just specific ones in these countries. Any info you could provide would be most appreciated. Thanks, Melinda

  23. Hi Josh
    when the us embassy websites talk about E3 renewals eg. bahamas is only accepting E3 renewals. What exactly does this mean? Is it a E3 visa renewal for the exact job/position I have now or can it be for my 2nd E3 visa but with new job and company?

  24. Hi Josh
    One more question if you dont mind, I have a current E3 visa but Im looking at going to work for another company in the US in a different job. Trying to figure out which embassy/consulates in Canda or Mexico to apply for a new E3 but can’t clearly find any answers. Can I apply for an E3 at any of them or is it only specific ones in these countries?

    Also thank you so much for this website, it is the best I have found to help me with the E3 visa process!

  25. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for all this great information that you share with this community – it’s really helpful!

    My e3 visa will be expiring on june29 2023. can I apply for renewal in the month of may(2023) with new LCA in Mexico/Canada . has I have weeding plans in month of august to travel to India. Is it ok to apply for renewal the visa before it expires?


  26. Hi Jose,

    Thanks for all this great information that you have shared with this community and I found it really helpful.

    My and m wife’s E-3 / E-3D visa stamp will expire in June 2023 along with expiry date of LCA, but my and my wife’s I94 with E-3 / E-3S status will expire on Aug 2024 based on our recent entry to the U.S.

    The thing is my company plans to file i129/i539 by early Feb 2023 to extend my and my wife’s E-3 / E-3S status with new LCA for another 2 years, but my wife has to travel between the U.S. and Canad back and forth monthly in the next half year.

    While my i129 is pending (maybe few months / my employer seems not willing to pay premium process), do you think she can come back to the U.S. with unexpired E-3D visa before June 2023 ? and then use i94 auto- revalidation to reenter U.S till Aug 2024 ?

    1. Hi Steven, she can definitely enter between now and June because she will still have a valid visa, that is no problem. But staying until August 24 without a valid visa is likely not a good idea. While the stamp might be for up to two years, may lawyers suggest that you should not stay that long. I would suggest speaking to the immigration attorney about the process because it’s quite a complicated scenario!

  27. Hi Josh,

    It seems I found your excellent blog a bit too late. I was unaware of the distinction between an extension and renewal. I have an extension that is still valid, but not the visa stamp (didn’t even know that existed). My problem is that I found this out while trying to return home to the US from Europe. I am now stranded in Frankfurt (literally in the airport right now…) and it seems that it may take weeks to get a renewal and get home to my family. I was wondering if you had any tips for this situation? I was wondering if I could “get back in” by applying for an ESTA… Then my status is all fine once I’m home. I presume not, but maybe?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Steven,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your situation! You don’t really want to enter on an ESTA because you can’t work and it gets a bit vague about what you can and can’t do while there. Your best bet is to try and find an appointment as quickly as possible in Germany, have you had any luck?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Josh Pugh

A business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh.View Author posts