Leaving the U.S. if you already have a visa is a pain. So do you really have to leave the country if you want to change or renew your visa? Doug Lightman of Lightman Law Firm tells us in this episode of Learning with New friends!

Learning with New Friends is all about Josh from America Josh meeting professionals in all sorts of fields to give you the best possible advice for your move to and life in America.

Meet my first friend, Doug Lightman of Lightman Law Firm, an immigration lawyer with all the answers! I thought I’d check in with him to find out what was best to wear to interviews!

To ask more questions about visas, and your life in America, come meet Josh and Doug at our upcoming event, Australians in New York! Click here for 25% off tickets!

Video Transcript

Josh: It’s recommended to go to Australia to apply for your first E3 visa.

TRUE!

Hi, I’m American Josh and this is Learning with New Friends.

I’ve heard under the E3 visa that I don’t have to leave the US to change visas or to renew the visa.

Doug: It depends what your visa status is. You can change your status, change your visa status. You can also extend your visa status. Changing your visa status means you’re in the United States on one type of visa status and you want to change it to another type of visa status. You can change, you can do that. You can’t do that if you’re here on ESTA. So if you’re here on ESTA it is impossible to change your status. You have to leave the United States. If you’re here for example on a J1 and you want to be here on an E3 could you submit an application to change your status from J1 to E3 which would allow you to just remain in the US? It wouldn’t require you to make a trip to a consulate? You could do that. But you should be aware that if you do that when you’re approved the only thing that’s going to happen is your status is going to change. You will not receive a visa stamp. So if you have no desire or need to travel.

Josh: So if you’re staying inside the US

Doug: You’re like you know what, I want to stay in the U.S. I want to be E3, I don’t have any desire to travel. Not only do I not have a desire to travel to pick up the visa to get approved for the E3 but even after that I don’t think I want to travel much. Does it make sense? Maybe it makes sense.

Josh: So you’d normally just recommend for J1 to E3 you should leave the country.

Doug: Yeah it almost never makes sense here. First of all if you want to do a change of status from J1 to E3 it’s going to take months before it’s approved, if it’s approved. Premium processing is not available to E3 applications. Secondly you will not receive a visa stamp. So, if for some reason you decide you want to leave 6 months, 8 months, you’re basically lodging the same visa application at a consulate. So you’re applying for the same job twice.

Josh: So yeah it makes better sense to leave and apply for one because it takes longer in the first place and if you leave the country you have to do the application again to get a visa

Doug: Another reason is that the application to change status is not one that’s reviewed by consulates it’s reviewed by the USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and they are a lot less pleasant to deal with than the vast majority of consulates.

Josh: So they’re more strict?

Doug: They’re stricter, they will scrutinize cases more heavily and they have a higher likelihood to be a bit more capricious in their review.