Skip to content
Home » Important » E-3 Visas now have Premium Processing with USCIS (I-129s) 2023

E-3 Visas now have Premium Processing with USCIS (I-129s) 2023

It’s finally happened! It would have been nice to have this change pushed through 12 months ago, but better late than never. If you’re filing an E-3 visa extension or moving to a new employer (a change of status) you can now do so with premium processing meaning that it’s approved in days/weeks instead of months/years!

Straight from USCIS to you:

An Australian national who is outside the United States may apply for an E-3 nonimmigrant visa directly through the Department of State or, in the case of an individual already in the U.S., by filing Form I-129 with USCIS. To qualify for the E-3 classification, you must demonstrate, among other things, that you:

– Are a national of Australia;
– Have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
– Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials; and
– Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.

The USCIS premium processing service allows petitioners to pay an additional filing fee to expedite the adjudication of certain forms, generally within 15 days.

So what does this mean? Well it basically means that instead of having to wait the 240 days to get a yes/no (or RFE – Request for Evidence) back, you can now get it back in (normally) 15 days.

This is a game-changer for those Australians stuck in the US waiting for USCIS to confirm new employers or to extend work with their current employer (yes, both, more on that below).

The difference between a change of status and a new E3 visa

This difference is important and I’ve written a whole article about how this works here.

Long story short, an I-129 extension/transfer is not a visa. You can stay in the country and keep working, but if you leave the country, you won’t be able to re-enter the US without going to a Consulate or Embassy and getting a new visa (just like always).

This changes your status in the country, it doesn’t give you the ticket to enter it.

Can you add premium processing to an existing I-129 application?

Yes, you can. According to USCIS:

If you have already filed Form I-129 or Form I-140 and you now wish to request premium processing, file Form I-907 with the service center where your Form I-129 or Form I-140 is currently pending, along with a copy of the Form I-797, Receipt Notice, for your Form I-129 or Form I-140.

So whether you’re applying for a new I-129 or you have one pending right now, you can pay the fee, and have it come back a few days later with a result.

How much does premium processing an E-3 visa cost?

As per the fee schedule on USCIS, we can assume this will be updated shortly to include an E-3 visa at $2,500.

Does this apply to new employers or just extensions of existing visas with the same employer?

It’s for both! You can use this processing for both applying for an extension to your current E3 visa status, or if you want to start with a new employer and have it ready to go in just 15 days!

This means, in theory, you could be offered a job, file a change of status on your existing visa, get it back in two weeks, start working with the new employer, then when you’re ready to, go to a Consulate/Embassy and go get a visa like normal. No more being rushed out of the country!

How do you apply for premium processing on an E3 visa?

All information can be found on the USCIS official website but the long and short of it:

You must complete and sign Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, according to the instructions on the current version of the form.

If you are filing Form I-907 together with Form I-129 or Form I-140, you must file both forms according to the Form I-129 or I-140 instructions.

If you have already filed Form I-129 or Form I-140 and you now wish to request premium processing, file Form I-907 with the service center where your Form I-129 or Form I-140 is currently pending, along with a copy of the Form I-797, Receipt Notice, for your Form I-129 or Form I-140.

If we transferred your petition to another service center and you received a transfer notice, we strongly recommend that you submit your Form I-907 to the service center that is now handling your petition. You should also include a copy of the transfer notice with your premium processing request to avoid delays.

68 thoughts on “E-3 Visas now have Premium Processing with USCIS (I-129s) 2023”

  1. Hi Josh,

    This is great news! I am on a E3D right now, and I am wondering if this will accelerate the timeline for E3D/EAD application? My understanding is the E3D/EAD process can only start after the E3 is filed.


  2. Pingback: The difference between extending an E3 status (I-129) and renewing an E3 visa 2021 | America Josh

  3. Great news ! Win – Win and “fair dinkum” too.

    Finally, it’s fair for the Employer and Employee as both the E-1 and E-2 Visas have premium processing and so, the E-3 type Visas finally arrive and join them.

    Cheers !!

  4. Hi Josh!
    My lawyer just received a RFE for my E3 Extension.

    My question is – that if for some reason its denied, will this impact me going out of the country to complete the renewal?


    1. Hi Belinda! I do not believe so, but I don’t actually know! I imagine it might come up but normally there is a reason for the denial so you could then discuss that if asked. But I will look into!

  5. Hi Josh, I am currently on an E3 in NYC.
    I am looking to change employers and had heard that the US embassy in Bahamas is open for E3’s.
    Do you have any insight on this? Am confused on whether to do an on-shore change of employer application or (subject to whether US embassies are accepting appointments) visit the Bahamas.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Mikta, a VERY helpful soul on Facebook wrote this:

      Hi All,
      Sharing information about a recent E3 RENEWAL in the Bahamas. I think by now everyone knows how hard it is to get an appointment, I don’t have any hot tips other than to refresh every 10 minutes which I did for about 5 days until I got this appointment. As far as I know, they only do renewals so keep this in mind when seeking out the Bahamas. I did find that they were responsive to emails so feel free to confirm this directly with them. Feel free to DM for more information but here’s a recap that should cover everything:
      – I had originally applied for an I-129 extension within the US (without a lawyer) in mid-January, and in Mid-March I received an RFE so decided to pivot to embassy appointment- I searched several places and looked for appointments in Costa Rica, the DR, Mexico, Bahamas, Colombia, Chile, Croatia.. I found that if I created an account on each of these embassy pages and started a DS-160 form (through until you can save your name details) I was able to see the first available appointment prior to paying the MRV fee. This may not always be accurate but I found it was for me when looking at Chile and the Bahamas. I did not look into AUS due to the cost of flights + quarantine, as well as the potential to be bumped off flights
      – The Bahamas does not require quarantine but does require an RT-PCR test within 5 days of your trip – the day you take your test is counted as Day Zero. You then need to apply for a health visa via the travel visa website – this can take between 24-48 hours so you have to make sure you take your test and get the results within 24 hours.
      – Website for travel to the Bahamas – super helpful
      – You need to organize a waybill from Fed Ex / UPS or DHL – essentially buying the envelope for them to send it back to you in. I opted for DHL, other people have used Fed Ex. Note that the Fed Ex in downtown Nassau is currently closed. There’s more information on this on the US embassy website I did see someone at the embassy who came out with their DHL envelope and they had a pink slip to pick-up from UPS (pay upon pick-up), so I don’t think its a huge issue for those flying in on a Sunday for a Monday appointment (as all shipping locations are closed on the weekends). I opted to have them keep it at the location as opposed to trying to re-ship it out
      – My appointment was on a Wednesday morning at 10.15 AM. They were running around an hour to an hour and a half behind. They are definitely prioritizing appointments for Bahamians as I was the only Aussie there- The interview itself was a breeze. Was literally asked for my LCA, if anything had changed in my job and what my job entailed. He asked for my degrees and I showed my degrees and degree evaluation to which he didn’t seem to need that and just looked at them as a formality
      – I was told my passport would be returned in 3-5 days. 3 days was Monday, DHL picks up from the embassy once a day however they got back too late yesterday to scan the packages in so the notification came up this morning (Tuesday) I am on a flight back tonight. Another person I spoke to used Fed Ex and he was able. to get his the same day it came back- There’s a store called the Visa Shop a few blocks from the embassy where you can store items as you can’t take any big bags/phones, etc into the embassy
      – You clear US immigration in the Bahamas so plan timing accordingly!
      – I stayed in downtown Nassau the first few nights when I had the appointment. My Air BnB was further away than I thought so I wouldn’t recommend but the closest hotels are the Hilton Inn Express, the Courtyard Marriott (where I stayed the last night), and the Hilton British Colonial. – I spent the weekend at the Grand Hyatt at the Baha Mar which was definitely expensive ($24 for a poke bowl!) but honestly well worth it, the beach is beautiful, there are 4 swimming pools, a casino, and a bazillion restaurants/bars
      – If you stay 5 days or longer (which you likely will if you have the Wednesday appointment) you have to take another covid test – take a copy of your health visa print out QR code and they can upload it automatically. You also need an antigen rapid test to get back into the US (with 72 hours of your flight). There are a few places in downtown Nassau that do this, but if you stay at the nice resorts, this is all included (I did mine at the Grand Hyatt)
      – The Bahamas has done an incredible job on managing covid, everyone wears masks, but a lot of downtown Nassau was closed down – not a lot of restaurants/bars open so it does feel a little eery. Google Maps is not updated (ie the Starbucks in town said it’s open.. it’s not) and locations are not always spot on but the locals are friendly and happy to point you in the right direction
      – AMEX is not really taken, most cabs take cash only (confirm price before departing), and it’s $1=$1 for USD to Bahamian. If you pay USD you won’t always be given USD cash back
      – My favorite taxi company was Cheryl’s as you can WhatsApp them – +1 242 423 4982
      – Also do yourself a favor and take yourself to a fancy lunch at Dune (a Jean Georges restaurant) at the Four Seasons on Paradise Island – well worth it for the views and the food was amazing!
      I think that covers it! To everyone who helped me – thank you! To those still stressing out, hopefully with vaccines rolling out more borders will begin to open so good luck!!

  6. Hi Josh, I hope you’re Well!

    If the onshore E3 change of employer (I-129) not approved, What happens to the existing E3 Visa. Does the existing E3 visa gets canceled?

      1. Thanks for the info. Do you know how long it is taking to get the E3-D extended from inside the US? And do you have to send off your passport? Thanks again!

  7. if you have the LCA and filed for premium processing can you give a two week notice while waiting for the E3 visa to start with your new employer?

    1. Hi RJD, you can give a two-week notice at any time, it’s not really related. If you end your employment prior to the end of your visa, you do get 60 days to find a new status. So that might answer your question?

  8. Hi Josh,
    I am currently on a J1 visa and planning to transition to an E3. Would you happen to know if the premium processing is also applicable on new E3 application.
    Also could you share the link/ timeline for E3 renewal story above. I emailed the US embassy in Barbados yesterday and they replied that they were only offering limited visa services to residents of their consular district.
    PS: Great website, learnt a ton scrolling through it

  9. Hi Josh,

    Thank you for this current blog and your incredible knowledge on all things E3 especially during Covid.

    I’ve been going back and forth between extending my status, and trying for an embassy appointment, but I’m now weighing on the option to extend my status through the I539 & I539A forms for myself and my dependents.

    While I have all the supporting evidence to provide such as the current 1-94, marriage certs, birth certs, can I also submit the newly certified LCA, new contract as additional supporting evidence without the need to get my employer submit the I-129 form?

    I know it’s possible, but the I-129 form is such an intimidating form especially if the small HR personnel and I are doing it ourselves.

    Also, if I were to submit without the I-129 form, and USCIS sends for an RFE, will they still bank the filing fee?

    What’s your advice?

    1. Hi Bev, it’s my understanding that the 539 is not applicable to you on an E3, only to E3Ds (the dependants of those on an E3).

      The only way to file internally on an E3 is an I-129.

      As for the fee, it’s my understanding that you cannot get a refund unless they don’t respond in the specified time. An RFE is not grounds for a refund.

      Thanks for your kind words!

  10. Same question as Belinda – my lawyers received an RFE for my extension and they have requested to interview my boss (apparently an atypical request). If denied for some reason, can I still apply for a renewal out of country?

    Can I apply for the renewal at the same time that I’m waiting for a response?

    1. Hi Marianne,

      Wowee, what a request! I don’t actually know for sure but I do believe it’s not a problem. Working on a response!

      And yes, you can leave the country and apply for a visa at a consulate while waiting for a response. Leaving the country will void your internal review.

  11. Thank YOU Josh for the quick response.

    If my visa expires May 18, do I have to immediately leave the country or is there a window in which I can renew my visa past expiry? I would ideally like to wait and see the outcome of the RFE interview and if denied, apply for the renewal at a consulate outside the US.

      1. Josh, does this mean I can switch employers and continue working with the NEW employer while I wait for the I-129 to be processed?

        Or I would have to stay with my current employer.

        Thank you!

    1. Alexandria Scoffell

      Hi Marianne

      What kinds of evidence did you and your lawyers have to submit?

      I can’t afford a lawyer so will have to go this process alone – which I’m quite scared of. Was your I-129 granted in the end? I’m going to need to apply for one this week.

      Thank you!

      1. Hi Alexandria,

        My lawyers haven’t submitted my RFE paperwork yet. They are preparing a big dossier with the usual documents to show that my degree is related to my current role and specialization. Good luck, I’ll keep you posted as events evolve.

        Thanks josh.

        1. Hey Marianne,

          you posted this a while ago, but I am curious. Did you get your visa approved?

          I am changing employers and applied with USCIS and received an RFE. the response has just been submitted but I am worried my visa could get denied. I resigned from my current role thinking all was going to be ok (big mistake) as I have processed this multiple times in the past.

  12. Hey Josh,

    I’m already employed on an F-1 student visa (with OPT). My visa expires this July, but I plan on sticking with my current employer. To transition to E-3, I’m starting to think that applying for premium processing within the country could be my best option (no need for travel and potentially cheaper overall).

    If this process is seen as a change of status rather than a “new visa”, do I still have to wait until my current F-1 visa expires? Or, can I start this process anytime before then? I’m just trying to avoid not being able to work for 2 weeks. It would certainly save me money!

    Also, thank you for all these resources and for organising the trivia nights this past year ?

    1. Hey Ari!

      I’m not 100% on the F-1 but in general, it’s no problem to transfer now. While it’s not a visa, you are currently under an F-1 status (you entered on the visa, which gives you the status).

    2. Hey Ari, I’m on your exact timeline with the exact same question! F1 OPT, wanting to switch to a E3 via premium processing within the next month. Would love to chat with you – how can I get in contact? can you add me on insta – tinyross.

  13. Hi Josh, do you know if you can pay for premium processing by card on the website? or does it have to be by check or money order?

  14. Hi,

    Just wanted to ask the community if anyone has had experience renewing their E3 in Athens, Greece recently? It looks like you can get an appointment fairly quickly but just wanted to know if anyone has actually had an appointment, if it went smoothly, and how long it took to get your passport back.


  15. Hi Josh, First off – your website is SOOO helpful, thank you so much for creating it.

    Question about the E3 visa – if I use a lawyer to help prepare & file the documents, is it a legal requirement that my employer pay for that ~$3,500 lawyer fee? Or can I just pay the lawyer directly. I believe it’s a legal requirement for the H1-B, but haven’t seen anything referring to the E3. Thank you!


    1. Hey Christin, you’re very welcome!! There’s no legal requirement to use a lawyer at all (but I definitely recommend it). So it doesn’t matter who pays or organizes to have that lawyer involved!

    2. Hi, has anyone got approved for E3D with form I539? When did you submitted your case and how long did it take to get approved?

      Does anyone know if we are really waiting for a 10months processing time as what they say on their website…

  16. Hi Josh

    Thanks for the info on your website. Really appreciate it.

    Covid has done it for us 🙂 I am in the process of renewing my visa and i have until august to get that done but with Covid there are no appointments till Nov. So i am applying for an extension on the E3. However, my husband is on an EAD which expires pretty much the same time the visa does. Does he have an option to extend his EAD too?

    Any advice would be appreciated.


  17. Hi Josh

    I just got an RFE for for E3 visa premium processing. The attorney said that they would not proceed as I will not have supporting documents to meet the required evidence. Can I still bring the approved LCA form abroad and applied for a new E3 visa normally? Thank you so much.


    1. G’day Greg! Yep you can use that same LCA (there’s an argument though for applying for another one because that way you get more of the 2 years, but that’s up to you!)

  18. Pingback: Can I transfer my E3 visa to a new employer 2021? | America Josh

  19. Hi Josh,

    Do you know the earliest time that an E3 applicant received approval through premium processing (Applying with I129) from USCIS ? The website says 15 calendar says maximum, but wanted to check if it takes full 3 weeks or much lesser than that for any of the recent E3 visa applicant.?

    Thank you.

  20. Hi Josh,

    I received an RFE, and once that was submitted it was denied. I understand the reason why, but I’m figuring out next steps and alternate means to stay in the US.

    I understand I have 30 days to leave the country once extension is denied? What are the limitations during that 30 day period and is there any reason I cannot apply for a different visa during that time before leaving the country?

    Much appreciated,


    1. Hey Jack, sorry to hear your RFE was denied. I believe yes you have 30 days to file an appeal or leave the country. I’m not 100% sure on what you can do in this time, but I would definitely speak to an immigration attorney about it as you don’t want to run foul of overstaying in the country. Sorry I can’t be more help but nuanced situations like this, you should definitely speak to a pro!

  21. Hi Josh,

    Thank you for information posted on E3 visa. I want renew my E3D EAD .Any idea how how long is the processing time for the same at pesent sitution due to pandemic?
    Before it would take 2 to 3 Months.Happy to hear

  22. Hi Josh,

    Thanks for all the useful information.
    If my current LCA expires in August 30th (and I work with my current employer only until then) but my I-94 is valid until late 2022, what would be my grace period: 10 or 60 days?
    Want to make sure that we leave the U.S. on time to stay in status.

    Could I do a short trip somewhere and come back on visa waiver to find a new employer?

    Also, could someone share info/link with the reasons why USCIS would reply with an RFE or deny an E-3 extension or change of employer via I-129?

    1. Hi Giovana! It’s my understanding that it’s 10 days from the completion of your work. 60 days is only if it’s within the bounds of your work. The whole I-94 being different from each other thing is a bit of a bug in the system so it shouldn’t be relied on too heavily!

      The Visa Waiver strategy is a possibility but you can run into trouble because they might ask what you’re doing so close to your visa (knowing you can’t work etc.). But lots of people have done this before.

      They can respond with an RFE for all sorts of things ranging from your history, your work experience, your job, the business, the job and how it relates to your experience, unfortunately it’s completely custom to each person.

  23. Hi Josh,

    I recently change my status from J-1 to E-3 by filing I-129 with premium processing. My current employer had an attorney help me with that, and it was approved without any issue in just 2 days!
    However, the change of status application of my dependents are not processed at the same speed (From J-2 to E-3D and I-539 cannot be expedited). It seems it will take 10 months to get the approval (Vermont center). The attorney told me that my wife can apply for EAD even if in the transition of status. My question now is whether she is eligible to apply for EAD as E-3D? If she can, how long the EAD will be valid for? Do you have more insight in EAD application.

    1. Hi Blake, let me do some research. I’m sorry, my knowledge of EADs and E3Ds is not even close to my knowledge of E3s so I just need a bit more time… unless somebody else here in the comments knows?

  24. Hey Josh, thank you for making this website! It’s literally a life saver.

    Due to covid and not being able to get an appointment to renew outside of the US… My husband is applying for an E3 extension (not expedited) so he gets the 240 days to give us time to leave the country to get the regular renewal of the E3 (we currently have an appointment booked in Mexico next year which we hope will not be cancelled due to covid). The issue is we have conflicting I-94 expiry dates. I’m his E3D and my I-94 expires in a month, Aug 28 2021, his expires Dec 31 2021. Does this affect my status when I put in my I-539 with his I-129 E3 extension?

    We were told to put in an I-539 to match his I-94, but there is an 8 month wait to process that. Which means I’ll have two I-539s in at the same time saying two different things. Is this a problem?

    Any advice welcomed! Thank you!

    1. Hi Holly. We’re wading into some more legal-crossover areas here so I want to be careful about what I do and do not know.

      But can you explain: Where is the second I-539 you mentioned? I see the one that you put in with his I-94 (I assume you already did that – have you received your receipt for that 539?), but where is the second?

      1. Hey Josh! Thanks for your reply. I haven’t put in any yet because I’m not sure if we should apply for the E3 extension now or if I should just put in an I-539 to match his I-94 to December now (apparently this is taking 8 months to process). So I’ll still be in processing if we then apply for an E3 extension and that’s when I’ll put in another I-539.

  25. Ok thanks Josh, we currently have a lawyer but he is really not shedding much light on the situation. We paid for a second opinion from a second lawyer and they replied saying “it’s tricky because your I-94s don’t match” and wouldn’t really go into it much further because I think it’s a weird situation and then our retainer ran out. So yes not much info from either lawyer unfortunately.

  26. Hey Josh!
    Thank you for this absolute gem of a site.

    I was previously on my own E-3, but left that workplace and applied for an E-3D (as my husband’s dependent) which is still being processed. While it’s being processed, I’m staying in the US with no international travel.
    Do you know, if I get a job offer with a new employer, is it possible to go from my current situation to an E-3 visa with an in-country application?

  27. Hi Josh,
    I’m unsure if you’re still taking questions in regard to the E3 visa but I am curious for your insight, I spoke with a lawyer and they said that my employer must pay for the E3 visa/premium processing. I’m trying to find information online expressing this but am finding it difficult. Do you know where I can look for this information?

    1. Really good question, Emilie. I’ve heard there is a Department of Labor document that talks about that (in relation to how it’s similar to the H-1B) but I don’t have it on hand sorry!

  28. Hey Josh,

    My wife is on E3 S and due for renewal, is she eligible for premium processing? Do you happen to know the process for extension for dependents?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hey Satya, unfortunately they’re not included in premium processing still, so it makes that part a bit more difficult! That being said, I believe if you file, they temporarily extend status while processing, which would mean she could keep working and living in the US while it’s processed.

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