For Australian professionals working in the United States on an E3 visa, the prospect of losing a job can be a daunting and stressful experience. Understanding the rules and timelines associated with job loss on an E3 visa is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition and maintaining your legal status – before it happens to you.
There is often some confusion over the 10-day rule vs. the 60-day rule which trips would-be job-hunters up. They both exist in some way, but how do you know which one to follow?
The 10-Day Rule (Pre-Visa): A Grace Period for Arrival &
The 10-day rule is a grace period provided to E3 visa holders before the beginning of their employment. This rule allows E3 visa holders ten days before the start-date on the visa to arrive in the US, get over some jet lag, do some life admin, and be ready for your first day of work.
It is very important to note that this grace period does not allow E3 visa holders to work during these ten days. You are simply allowed to be present in the US, so don't do anything that even resembles starting with your future employer or you will put your job and status at risk.
The 10-day Rule (Post-Visa): Time to pack your things
The 10-day rule is a grace period provided to E3 visa holders upon the full completion of their employment and therefore your visa. This rule grants E3 visa holders ten days from your last day of work to wrap up your affairs, prepare for departure, and leave the United States.
Like the Pre-Visa rule, you cannot work during this time for your former employer or any new employer unless you go about filing an internal change of status or getting a new visa. Don't get caught out right at the end!
The 60-Day Rule: Time to Find a New Job if you quit or lose your job
The 60-day rule is a more generous grace period if you lose your job or quit your job, introduced in 2017, allowing E3 visa holders to remain in the United States and seek new employment for up to 60 days or until the visa's expiration date, whichever comes first (keeping your I-94 in mind as well).
To reiterate: This applies whether you quit your job or lose your job – just so long as you haven't completed the full term of your E-3 visa.
And so that we're very clear: Never overstay your I-94, and never overstay the date stamped on your visa. Doing that can cause issues with your future status in the US and your ability to return – so you don't want to do that.
Navigating Job Loss on an E3 Visa: Essential Steps and Considerations
If you lose your job while on an E3 visa, it is crucial to act promptly and take the following steps to maintain your legal status and maximize your chances of finding new employment.
All is not lost! You had a job, you have experience, and you're established in the US, you're a foot-up on everyone else, so you got this!
Here's what you should jump onto:
- Take a hot second to yourself: This sucks. Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't. You're allowed to be upset about the situation and frustrated and annoyed, so dwell in it for just a little bit to give yourself a proper second to recharge. You've got 60 days, use them wisely, but take care of yourself too.
- Update Your Resume and Begin Job Hunting: As soon as you learn about your job loss, update your resume and begin searching for new employment opportunities in your field. Utilize job search platforms, networking events, and your professional network. Reach out for coffees, say “yes” to as much as you can afford (financially and mentally), and take advantage of anything offered to you. Don't be afraid to ask for help, because this community will give you as much as they can.
- Consult an Immigration Attorney: Seek guidance from an experienced immigration attorney to understand your options and ensure you adhere to the appropriate rules and timelines during your job search.
- Apply for a Change of Status, if Necessary: If you are finding yourself getting to the end of the 60-day grace period and you haven't found a job yet, then don't worry, you still have options. You can switch to a B-1/B-2 visa internally through an I-539 filing, which would give you up to 6-months. There are considerations to be made before you do this, so be sure to consult that immigration attorney first.
- Prepare for Departure: While it's not your plan, it's always worth putting a few things in place and preparing for the worst outcomes. Keep an eye on flights, connect with the community about filling your apartment or storing your things temporarily. There's no point getting close to 60-days and then really starting to freak out – use the time wisely!
This article is not meant to scare you. You might be researching E3 visas and you've come across this and now you're thinking “Oh Lord, but I haven't even got there yet!” Being prepared and knowing everything in advance will help you navigate what is, in fact, a very difficult process (moving everything in your world to a new country).
There's no downside to knowing next steps well before you ever need them, and you can hope that you will never need these tips at all!