E-3 Visa USA – Australian Working Visa in the US in 2022

If you’re from Australia and you want to move to the United States, then it’s likely that your best pathway is to get an E-3 visa. The E3 is a specialty visa for Australians that allows you to work and live in America for a limited amount of time. There are specific steps and conditions that you need to meet in order to qualify for one, so here’s everything you need to know.

As an Australian, you are very lucky that you have special access to this visa (and you’re the only ones in the world who do). There’s no lottery involved, and while the steps are specific, they can all be achieved relatively cheaply and easily.

What is the E3 Visa and what are the requirements?

An E3 visa is a special visa only for Australian citizens who have a Bachelor’s Degree (or the equivalent work experience).

You must be offered a job that requires that Bachelor’s degree and the job must pay at or above the “prevailing wage” for that particular task with your experience.

So in summary, E-3 principal applicants must be:

  • Australian citizens
  • Holders of at least a Bachelor’s degree
    • OR have the equivalent experience/training (approx. 12 years)
  • Going to the United States solely to work in a “specialty occupation” (a job that requires the Bachelor’s degree you have)
    • Which pays greater than the “prevailing wage”

What is a specialty occupation?

The definition of “specialty occupation” is one that requires:

  • A theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge; and
  • The attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

While there is no definitive list of occupations eligible for the E3 visa, a useful way to work out whether the job you’re applying for is using the O*NET Online website.

This website allows you to search for jobs and see what percentage of people have higher degrees. You want jobs that require mostly Bachelor or higher.

How long does the E3 visa take to process?

The process can be broken down into stages but overall takes approximately six weeks from initial filings to visa in your hand after you have received a job offer.

The average timeline for getting an E-3 visa:

  • Finding a job – 3+ months
  • Interviewing for a job – 2-4 weeks
  • Offer negotiation – 1-2 weeks
  • LCA writing & approval – 2 weeks
  • Interview wait time & document compiling – 2-10 weeks (dependent on location)
  • Visa interview – 10 minutes
  • Passport return with approved E3 visa – 1-2 weeks

Does the visa require sponsorship?

No, but yes. While there is no formal requirement for “sponsorship” which normally has costs and complications associated for the employer, the E3 visa just requires a job offer.

Once the job offer is in place, the rest is up to the applicant (in co-ordination with the employer).

This question is difficult because it will come up during your interviews and many companies will say that they don’t offer sponsorship, so be sure to keep reading and get to know this visa inside out.

When should you mention visas and sponsorship to employers?

The key is never to lie, but not to bring it up too early.

The reason for this is that if it’s the first thing you mention, all they’re going to see is the (perceived) pain it will be to employ you as opposed to just how wonderful you are.

Go in to interviews knowing everything there is about the E3, know answers to questions (like you find on this page) and be armed and ready to discuss that you are happy to take the lead. Don’t dodge the question or be coy, that will only make you look dishonest.

The visa itself is not expensive or a big lift, however if the employer uses a lawyer (which they likely will and should) it will cost them a few thousand dolllars in legal fees. So go in knowing that and have a plan.

How long does the E3 last and how long can I stay in the US?

The E3 visa can last for up to two years dependent on how long the offer of work is with your employer. If you are offered a 6 month contract, this will be the length of your visa.

Once the visa has expired you have 10 days to leave the US, so you need to make sure you’ve planned ahead before the end of your two years!

Can you renew the visa and stay working for longer than two years?

Yes, you can, in theory, renew the visa indefinitely for up to two years each time. This is always up to the discretion of the immigration officer you are speaking to.

Can your spouse, children, and family join you?

Yes, there are special statuses for spouses and children (dependents) of E-3 visa holders which allows them to travel with you on an E-3.

For spouses, you automatically receive working rights on the E-3S status. For children (under 18) there is a special E-3Y status which allows them to study, attend school, but not work. More information about these visas can be found here.

The U.S. does not recognize De Facto relationships for the purposes of immigration, and to qualify as a spouse you will however need a marriage certificate.

Family members do not need to be Australian citizens.

How to explain the E3 Visa to Potential Employers

This is the most difficult part of getting a job in the United States because you require work authorization. You will be constantly asked “are you permitted to work” and it’s a chicken and egg: “Yes I’m allowed to work if you offer me the job, but without the offer, no!”

For that reason it’s important that you detail what exactly is required of them:

  1. The visa requires an approved LCA which must be signed by the employer but can be filled in with your help and with the help of a lawyer, it takes 5-10 business days to return and takes approximately 30-90 minutes to fill in.
  2. The visa itself costs $205USD to apply for (and this can be paid by you or the employer)
  3. You will attend an interview, and be back and ready for work approximately two weeks after that.
  4. This visa is unique as it’s only for Australians, is always available, and can be issued all throughout the year.
  5. The visa lasts for 2 years but if we want to, we can apply for another two years indefinitely at the end which requires me to leave the country and return (all within about 2 weeks).

A Step-by-Step Guide to getting an E3 Visa

So you’re from Australia and you want to move to the United States on an E-3 visa. What does the process from start to finish actually look like? We’ve stepped out exactly what to do so you know all the steps, who needs to be involved, and how you can make the whole process as efficient as possible.

  1. Find a job for an E3 Visa

    Job hunting in America can be a struggle and will take you a significant amount of time. It’s not going to be easy, and there are going to be hurdles but knowing the visa inside out is your best first step, so you’re doing great.

    You’re going to find mixed opinions on whether you can find a job from Australia or whether you need to visit the US to look for work, and in my opinion, it’s heavily dependent on your work history, your experience, the level of employment you’re going for, and what your industry.

    Some industries have transformed to a completely digital-first orientation which means that your location for interviews and your physical location mean very little, whereas there are also more traditional businesses that highlight the need for in-person interviews and networks on the ground.

    Either way, it’s good to be researched about the location you’re looking to move to, understand how business and work operate in the US (because it’s different in every state) and immerse yourself in the process.

    I contributed to a great article about the top tips for finding a job in NYC that will help you (all across the US) which focuses on things like optimizing your resumé (it’s no longer a “CV”), networking, tailoring your pitch, and more.

    Ultimately though, I think the key is networking. You are much less likely to find work if you’re applying cold through online portals than you are if you have a connection (even if it’s distant and small). Any introduction will open doors faster than a tweaked cover letter (but both are very important).

    It’s worth noting here that USTravelDocs (which is an official US Government resource) asks two questions on their FAQ about whether you can visit the US to look for work and attend interviews:

    Can I go to the United States to find a job and then apply for the E-3 visa from there?

    “In advance of applying for an E3 visa you may travel to the United States to search for a job or attend an interview. However, you cannot apply for the actual visa from within the United States. All visa applicants must appear at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad to apply.”

    And Can I travel to the United States on the Visa Waiver Program to find a job or attend interviews and then apply for the E-3 visa once I return to Australia?

    “Yes, you can travel on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if you meet the requirements (please see our page on the Visa Waiver Program). If you do not meet the VWP requirements, you may be eligible to travel on the B-1/B-2 Combined Visa for Business or Pleasure.

    “You must leave the United States before applying for your E-3 visa.”

    If you’ve found a job – you’re awesome; remember that!

    You’ve landed a job offer, and that’s a big deal. Yes, the visa process can seem daunting – but from here, there’s no use worrying about what your new employer is going to think. If you’ve already convinced them that you’re the best candidate for the job, then a little bit of paperwork and a slightly longer timeline isn’t going to change that. Play it cool, stay organized, and hopefully, your new employer will follow your lead.

    During the last stages of my job interview process, I told my new employer that I expected the visa process to add approximately four to six weeks that I would normally give my current employer before leaving.

    From here, it’s on you to stay on top of the process. You’re going to need to check in with your new employer throughout the process to make it clear when you’re working on something vs. when something is in their court.

    Writing the E3 visa offer letter

  2. Writing the E3 visa offer letter

    This is the first thing you need before moving forward. It must outline that your new job is both: 1. A full-time specialty service occupation requiring your degree; and 2. Include the salary being offered for your professional services.

    Ideally, it will also include:
    1. A brief overview of the company and where your position fits in;
    2. A rundown of responsibilities and duties associated with your position;
    3. Any special tools/ tech that will be used; and
    4. An explanation of why you are qualified for the position (referencing your degree and any relevant experience).

    Yes – this is going to be longer and more detailed than a normal job offer letter. That’s why I suggest drafting a copy for your employer to sign off on, based on the formal offer letter they give you and including the supplementary information above.

    You’ll then have two documents: A short (and more normal) letter of offer, and a longer and more detailed letter that will more directly check off the requirements for an E3 visa.

    Timeline – I received a verbal job offer on Day 1, accepted verbally and received an offer letter on Day 5, and signed that letter to accept the offer on Day 6. Yours might be this fast, but in many cases in the US, it’s a much slower process to actually onboard you and get you all the documents you require, so don’t be put off if you have to wait a few weeks (but as always, stay in touch and on top of things).

    Find a job for an E3 Visa

  3. How to file the LCA for an E3 visa

    The next step requires your employer to file an LCA (Labor Condition Application, Form ETA 9035) with USCIS. This is the piece of paperwork where I found having a lawyer to be most helpful, as it’s very specific and not necessarily common sense.

    You can fill out a draft LCA for your employer to use as a reference when they file via the USCIS website. You can find general instructions here and here.

    Most employers should do this for you (the actual submission must be the employer); however, it is important to understand what it contains.

    This is an agreement with the Department of Labor (which is important to note that this is not part of YOUR immigration process yet, this is between the employer and the DOL) that effectively says “We want to employ someone on an E3, in this title of job, and at this rate, is that ok?”

    The LCA itself contains:
    1. Who you are and your personal details;
    2. Who the company is and their official tax identification (the only company you can work for in the US under the E3);
    3. Contact details for a representative from the company;
    4. The official title of the job you are going for;
    5. What category that job fits into;
    6. The prevailing wage code for that position;
    7. The wage that you will be making (must be more than the prevailing wage).

    All of this leads to a document that, when certified, makes up possibly the most important document in the whole E3 visa process.

    At this point, if your employer is slow to file the LCA, it delays the whole process – including your potential start date. Make sure you’re available by phone and email to respond quickly to any questions your employer has. Your start date can’t be adjusted once it’s certified so put it far enough out to have time to get an interview and enter the US, but not too far away that you need to idle around before starting (because you can only enter the US within 10 days of starting). Keep reading for some more tips on what start date you should use based on when you get an interview.

    The most complicated part of the LCA is the prevailing wage because it commonly trips people up. You basically need to be paid more than a certain amount of money to qualify. It can be calculated by going to the FLCDataCenter website and running through the “Wage Search Wizard”. This will ask your state and your county, and then you search or select your occupation from a list.

    Once you find the list of job titles (click here for an example) on FLCDataCenter, there are a few things to note: first is the code in blue which is the “SOC Code” which you will need later. Clicking that will take you through to ONetOnline, another great resource that can confirm that this title of job requires a Bachelor’s Degree (a requirement for the E3) if you scroll down to the Education section. It doesn’t need to be 100% but needs to be common that you require a Bachelor’s or greater training.

    Secondly, you can click “View Wages for” which will show you the levels of wage requirement, and a rate per hour and a rate per year, based on the “Level” (one through four, ignore the Mean Wage). Level 1 means an entry-level experience at this job, level 2 is relevant education and experience, Level 3 is experience employees with a deeper understanding (e.g. management) and Level 4 are experts (e.g. senior management).

    You must earn more than this amount for the level that corresponds to your application to qualify. Which level you pick is up to you, and it’s best to discuss how this works with an immigration attorney.

    When they’re ready, your employer will file the form online at Foreign Labor Application Gateway, an online portal. Certification takes 5-10 business days.

    The employer then needs to keep an eye on the status of the LCA on the certification website. If you don’t hear anything at 5-6 business days, I suggest asking your employer to log in and check the status one week after the LCA has been filed (becuase the Deparment of Labor are really good at getting things back on time).

    If you want to check the status of your LCA yourself, use the LCA number you received above and go to Foreign Labor Application Gateway. Scroll down the page to “Search iCERT” and use the “Case Status Check”.

    If it still says certification is “in process”, I recommend having your employer check back daily to make sure the process moves as quickly as possible.

    Once the LCA is “Certified”, have your employer print the document, sign it, and send the signed and certified document back to you.

    Then the ball is in your court. Explain this to your employer – tell them that you’re working on your application paperwork and booking your appointment, and give them an updated timeline once you’ve done that.

    Timeline – I sent my draft LCA and instructions about the process along with my signed offer letter on Day 6. I made clear that this part of the process was up to the employer and explained that I wouldn’t be able to proceed until this step was completed. My employer filed the form on Day 7.

    I emailed my employer to ask them to check the status on Day 14. My LCA was certified on Day 15.

    How to file the LCA for an E3 visa

  4. The DS-160 and Booking Your Appointment to get an E3 visa

    Next, you must fill out the DS-160 form and book your consulate appointment.

    The DS-160 form is very comprehensive and will take you some time to get through. Have your passport and any previous US visas on hand, as well as dates for previous travel to the US. Here’s a detailed guide. Do this very carefully.

    The DS-160 will ask for a location on it, so it’s important that you select the same location in that, as the location you pick to do your interview. If you need to change the location of your interview after doing your DS-160, my recommendation is to do a new DS-160 and then update the consulate (either online through the portals below, or by contacting them directly). If you can’t get in touch and update it, just take both printed out confirmation pages and explain the situation. You should be fine (but don’t rely on having ONLY one with the wrong location on it).

    If you get things wrong in this document you’ll have to do it all over again, which is a monumental pain. To start the DS-160 you head to this official Government website (and never anywhere else). The website is awful, and it will constantly crash on you so I highly recommend saving on every single page, and every single time you insert any information. Chrome seemed to work best and definitely don’t do this on your phone.

    If this is your first E3 visa application, it’s recommended that you do your appointment in Australia, but you do not have to.

    When planning this trip, remember that the appointment wait time estimates on the US State Department website are for US citizens and are wildly inaccurate at that. You, as an Australian are a “third-country national” (First is the US, second is the country with the embassy/consulate and third is you).

    Each consulate has a specific number of slots for these kinds of appointments, so the wait times could be very different than those estimates. You can and should, however, take the listed processing times into account.

    Head to my review of U.S. visa location guide for reviews of locations, as well as turnaround and wait times!

    To book your appointment, there are two major websites that you’ll be directed to, and which one you use will depend on where you’re headed for the appointment: http://ustraveldocs.com/ and https://ais.usvisa-info.com/. I haven’t found a clear way to define which one is which but if you browse through each, you should find the country you plan to visit and links to their booking page (not their Embassy page).

    These two websites are the portals to booking your appointment and will take payments and track your progress throughout.

    You create an account, select a location, and then proceed through the steps that it tells you. It likely tells you to start with a DS-160 because that’s your ticket into getting an interview. You will then have to pay a fee to see the available appointments. This fee is non-transferable to another location and you can’t see the calendar of available appointments before paying. It’s a huge pain, but you have to take a bit of a gamble and just push forward.

    Once you pay you should be presented with a calendar of options. If there are no appointments available it means that all the appoints for the next booking period (normally a couple months) are booked out. Keep refreshing this page all the time and you will likely see an appointment appear as somebody else canceled. Otherwise you will just have to wait until you see a spot open up.

    When you find an appointment and select it you will be given strict instructions on how to go forward. Read these very carefully.

    Timeline – I completed my DS 160 and made my visa appointment on Day 15. The soonest appointment I could get was in 11 days time, so, the appointment was scheduled for Day 26. I told my new employer as soon as I booked my appointment and gave them an estimate on the wait time.

    In a COVID and post-COVID world, this timeline is nowhere near the same and most people are waiting between 4 and 8 weeks for appointments.

    The DS-160 and Booking Your Appointment to get an E3 visa

  5. Attending your E3 Visa interview (the E3 Checklist)

    You’ll receive specific instructions upon booking your appointment which will detail what you can and can’t take into the consulate, what time to arrive, and other information that you should read very carefully. Regardless of where you go, you want to be over-prepared in terms of documentation.

    This is just about the full list of documents I took to my consulate appointment – even though they didn’t ask for anywhere near all of these docs:
    Printed and signed copy of Certified LCA;

    – Printed DS-160;
    – Passport;
    – Job Offer Letter;
    – Copy of my degree;
    – Copy of degree transcripts;
    – My resumé;
    – Documentation about your employer, verifying their legitimacy; (I took a recent Annual Report, and a printout of our “About Us” web page);
    – Bank account printout and driver’s license from Australia (To show ties to Aus);
    – Prior US visa paperwork as appropriate;

    If you have already been working in the US and this is a renewal or new employer you should also bring some extra documents.

    At my most recent visa appointment, where I was going from one unrelated E3 visa position to another, the consular officer also wanted to see my most recent US tax return and pay stubs from my previous employer to prove that “I’d been doing what I said I was doing” (his words, not mine).

    – Unexpected late addition: Recent US Tax Return;
    – Unexpected late addition: Recent US Pay Stubs;

    I had not seen these documents included on any list of required documents before my appointment. I was given a slip with an email address to send these documents to, and my visa application status changed to Administrative Processing. Luckily I had these documents saved online and sent them right after my appointment, which didn’t delay the process. If you’ve already been working in the US, I suggest taking those documents with you as well.

    Here’s the one thing you need to know though about the interview: it’s not an “interview” as such it’s more of a confirmation of what you’ve already supplied. They might ask you to tell them about the job, the employer, your degree, your work history, how you got the job. It’s honestly to make sure that it’s all in place and you are who you wrote you are, that’s about it.

    Once that’s all done, you should be told on the spot that it’s approved and they will keep your passport for processing (they put a visa in it). You will receive a confirmation slip with some details on it about returning.

    You’re done! Go have a drink and relax for a few days.

    Timeline – I had my last day of work with my previous employer on Day 23, flew to Canada on Day 24, and attended my appointment first thing in the morning on Day 26.

    Attending your E3 Visa interview (the E3 Checklist)

  6. Getting your E3 visa, and starting your new job!

    Check the estimated processing/turnaround times for all consulates here, as you should take this into account when booking your appointment and communicating with your employer. This should take just a week but can take longer depending on where you are.

    After your appointment, you can keep track of the status of your application here. I waited until mine was “ready for pick up” before booking my return flight for that same day.

    Once you receive your passport back, open it up and you’ll find the visa stamp in there. It’s a big full-page sticker that has your photo and all the details.

    CHECK THIS SUPER CAREFULLY.

    Are the dates right? Is the employer name spelled correctly? Is your name spelled correctly? Is every single other detail on it spotless and perfect? Yes? Ok great! If not, you need to alert the consulate/embassy you visited right away. DO NOT RETURN TO THE US IF IT’S WRONG. This is near impossible to change anywhere else so it’s best to do it there and then.

    If everything is ok, then you’re good to go. In short you just need your passport with that visa, and for the first time carry all your documents with you in hand-luggage too. Remember you can only enter 10 days before your work starts, so check the dates on your visa and don’t try to enter too early. There’s information below on this page about what to do when you enter as well.

    HERE WE GO!

    Timeline – I had my appointment and my visa application status changed to Administrative Processing on Day 26. On the morning of Day 28, the status changed to Approved, then it changed to ready for pick up that afternoon, sooner than expected. I booked a same-day flight back into the States and went from my hostel to the Post Office to pick up my passport, then straight to the airport that afternoon on Day 28.

    Getting your E3 visa, and starting your new job!

Key things to remember when getting an E3 visa

Research and communication are the most important elements, take care of yourself, and hire a professional. These are the three most important things I can recommend to make sure you give yourself the best chances of getting an E3 visa.

Research & communication – To shorten this timeline, I recommend thoroughly researching appointment wait times and processing times and communicating frequently and clearly with your new employer to make sure paperwork gets filed ASAP.

Take care of yourself – This process can feel really overwhelming, so be sure to reach out to your friends and fellow Aussies for support and look after yourself throughout the process. Drink water! Exercise! Pet a dog! Once you get through this, you’re starting a brand new job which is all sorts of stressful in its own way, so you don’t want to be totally worn out.

Hire a professional – The timeline above is just one person’s experience, and in no way substitutes formal legal advice. The best way to improve your chances of having a smooth application experience is to hire a professional.

How to apply for an E3 visa by mail

In order to qualify for an application by mail you do need to meet a number of requirements, and then complete each section of this coversheet. You must qualify in Section 1 to continue to Section 2. If you do not qualify you must schedule an appointment online.

To qualify for a mail-in visa, you must answer yes to all these criteria:

  1. You must have had a previous valid E3 (that is active or expired within the last 48 months)
  2. You must have had your fingerprints collected when you got that visa (it’d be very unlikely that you didn’t)
  3. You’ve had no refusals for a visa in any category after your most recent valid visa
  4. You’ve never been denied any visa or the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA).
  5. You haven’t changed your name or passport nationality (since the last visa)
  6. Your previous E3 did not require a waiver of ineligibility (e.g. criminal convictions).
  7. You’ve had no arrests or convictions (other than minor traffic violations) since your previous E3 visa was issued.
  8. You have no ineligibilities or reason to believe that you have failed to comply with U.S. immigration law.
  9. You are still a citizen of Australia.

From there you must complete the attached cover sheet. This cover sheet includes details of travel dates, your DS-160 (see above), your valid passport and the application fee receipt (just like when you get an appointment). You also still require an employment letter and certified (and signed) LCA to be included.

Where to send your mail-in visa application

For those applicants residing in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Northern Territory:

U.S. Consulate General
Attn: [Visas Class] – [Travel Date]
Level 6 / 553 St. Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC 3004

For those applicants residing in New South Wales, Queensland, Norfolk Island, Western Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory:

U.S. Consulate General
Attn: [Visas Class] – [Travel Date]
Suite 2, 50 Miller Street
North Sydney, NSW 2060

How long does a mail-in application take?

Standard processing time is described as requiring a minimum of thirty (30) business days from receipt of all the required documentation.

If your travel is sooner than 30 days and you are unable to schedule an interview date earlier than what’s available online you may qualify to submit a request for an emergency appointment.

Do you need a degree equivalency?

The requirement to move to the US with an E3 is to hold the equivalent of a 4 Year Bachelor Degree (or greater). In some cases you may be told to seek equivalency from an evaluation company in order to prove this (or at the very least, use it as a precaution). As a general rule of thumb, three years work equates to one year of education (who knows how that rule was come to).

I did mine through Silvergate Evaluations who turned out to be great. You send them everything you have, and they will reply with options on who can write your equivalency statement from a University or College in the US. Prices will vary but at the very least you’ll be looking around $250USD for the full document.

What documents do I need when entering the U.S. on an E3 visa

No matter how confident you are, there’s going to be a brief moment when your plane touches down back in the U.S. where you think to yourself “I sure hope this goes smoothly”. Well… it does for me.

I know I’m legally allowed to re-enter the country as many times as I want, I know I’ve got my valid E3 visa, I know I’ve done nothing wrong.

You technically only need your approved and valid (date) E3 visa sticker, stuck in your valid passport.

With those documents, you should be able to say to the agent at the gate that you’re back to work as per your visa, and you will stroll right in.

In my personal experience, this has happened almost every time with one or two questions around:

  • What do you do for work?
  • What is the company’s name?
  • What is your role detailed on your visa? and
  • Where have you been and what have you been doing?

An honest reply to each and every one of these has resulted in a stamp, stamp, stamp, and I’m on my way.

But just to be careful I recommend traveling with a few extra documents where you can. These aren’t required in most cases but carrying a few pieces of paper has absolutely no impact on your carry-on weight and will give you the peace of mind:

  1. Your approved LCA – Sure, it’s a stack of pages and a bit of a pain in the ass to carry around, but it shows preparedness and proof all in one
  2. Recent payslips – An easy way to show that you are still gainfully employed is to show that you’re still being paid. Print a couple of months of payslips out and you’ll be ready to whip them out if any questions arise
  3. Bank statements – To line up with your payslips
  4. (Especially if it’s a long trip away) A letter from your employer – This letter can simply state (on letterhead) that you’re all good for the period you’re away from the business and it is known to them
  5. (At a stretch) Any proof you have of ties to your home country – Showing that you’re still attached to your home country and don’t plan to move is always a great option (e.g. Bank statements from Australia, proof of property ownership etc.)

For professional assistance, I recommend Doug Lightman from Lightman Immigration or Tara Gray from Tara Gray Law or Zjantelle Cammisa Markel from Cammisa Markel

Keep reading the latest news

Official pages are always the best, click here to go to USCIS.

This is the official page from USTravelDocs.com.

Frequently Asked Questions about E3 Visas

How much does the E3 Visa cost?

The E3 visa application fee is $205USD ($287AUD).

This is much cheaper than many other visas because there is no additional cost down the road when you actually get approved. Many visas have an issuance fee after the application fee, but that’s not the case with the E-3.

More importantly though there is no cost to the employer. This application fee can be paid by you or the employer, but there is no other work that is required which makes it a much lower barrier than many other visa options available to other international citizens.

Can you study while on an E-3 visa?

Yes. E-3 holders who are attending school incidental to their primary purpose for being in the United States may attend the school of their choice either part-time or full-time (unless otherwise
noted here
). You must make sure though that you live up to all your E3 requirements at all times.

Can you employ yourself on an E3 visa?

This is a question I get asked a lot and the answer is not so straight forward. To do this, and to understand the intricacies of what exactly is an is not allowed, you must speak to a lawyer.

Is it normal for my passport to have arrived at a PO Box in St Kilda when I did a visa renewal in Melbourne?

Yes, it’s normal that your passport has arrived at a PO Box in St Kilda, Victoria. This is the US Consulate’s PO Box and means your passport stamp has arrived back. You should hear from them shortly.

Do I need original LCA for my interview?

Yes, you need to print out your Certified LCA (it says Certified in the bottom left corner) and have it signed by the person who is detailed in the document. You must take that version to your interview and they will keep it at the end.

ETA FORM 9035e (LCA): Is the employer point of contact (d) the same as the person who signs the declaration of employer (e) at the end?

They CAN be the same person but they need not necessarily be the same person. The person who signs that declaration of the employer must have the authority to enter into binding contracts on behalf of the company (i.e. an officer of the business entity). The person listed as the employer’s point of contact is just the person with whom the agency (USCIS) can communicate about the application.

Are there restrictions to traveling overseas to Europe while I’m on an E3 visa here in the USA?

No restrictions. The E3 is a multiple entry visa which allows you to travel internationally and re-enter the US for the duration of the visa.

Can I have an E3 visa in an expired passport if I have a new passport as well or do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?

If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports, as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. (Example: tourist visa, when your principal purpose of travel is tourism).

Both passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country and type (Example: both Uruguayan regular passports, both official passports, etc.). When you arrive at the U.S. port-of-entry (POE, generally an airport or land border) the Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer will check your visa in the old passport and if s/he decides to admit you into the United States they will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation “VIOPP” (visa in other passport).

Do not try to remove the visa from your old passport and stick it into the new valid passport. If you do so, your visa will no longer be valid.

When providing the ‘last 5 visits’ on your E3 application, do you have to list all your entries into the US including short holiday trips out of the US?

Yes. I would suggest using the https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/ website for last entrances, which includes most if not all. Always be as honest as possible and you can’t go wrong.

How do I change my current address on my E3 paperwork? Any ideas?

This is a very important step and can be found on the Form A-11

Can I already book my appointment at the US embassy before the LCA has been approved (it was just filed)?

Yes, you can! To get your appointment you need a DS-160, and the DS-160 includes a question (that you can leave blank re: LCA). So you can fill the DS-160 in, leave it blank, book an appointment with your confirmed DS-160 number. Then when your LCA gets approved, file a new DS-160, now including your approved LCA number, and then contact the embassy you’re going to and ask to update your DS-160 (because “you needed to update the LCA details”). They should be completely fine with it and away you go.

All embassy locations are unique, so it’s important you check with the location you are applying to.

I am currently in NYC on an E-3, but have changed jobs so about to leave to process my second E-3. I’m changing employers so it will be my first with the new employer. Is this considered a renewal? Receiving some conflicting information.

This is a new visa. You will need to leave the country or apply for an internal transfer or status.

Can you get an E3 for a part-time role (say 3-4 days a week)?

Yes, you can get an E3 for a part-time role, it is totally permissible. You can apply for the E-3 with an hourly wage (as opposed to an annual wage) that’s over the earning threshold for your profession.

Can you freelance for clients outside of the part-time role (ie. for other clients not connected directly to the E3?)

No. You can only work for the company specifically outlined in your E3 Visa.

Can you transition from an E-3 to a Green Card?

Yes, you can, there are two ways but you need to be cautious because the E-3 visa is a non dual-intent visa and therefore this can not be your plan when you enter the country.

Does anyone know if it’s 10 days, 30 days, or 60 days after you stop working with your E3 employer?

It’s a combination. If you’re ending your visa before the length of time allocated on your visa, it’s 60 days. If you’ve finished the visa, then it’s 10 days. https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-publishes-final-rule-certain-employment-based-immigrant-and-nonimmigrant-visa-programs

Does anyone know if you can get an E3 visa on a 6 or 12-month contract role?

Yes, but your E3 visa will only be valid for that long

Do I have to already have a job in the United States first before applying for an E-3 visa?

Yes. You need to have a job offer from your employer in the United States before you can apply for the E-3 visa.

Can I apply for an E-3 visa from outside Australia?

Yes. Many lawyers will recommend you get your first in Australia, which is a “safer” bet, but there’s no requirement for that. You can apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate which processes nonimmigrant visas, outside the US.

Does my employer need to file an I-129 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before I can get my E3 visa?

No, unlike the H1B, the employer in the United States is not required to submit a petition to USCIS as a prerequisite for the E3 visa. However, the employer must obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA), from the department of labor by filing form ETA Form 9035. There is no fee to submit the ETA9035.

Is there a limit to the number of E-3 visas?

There is a limit of 10,500 visas issued each year, however we’ve never reached that cap.

How long before I start my job can I enter on an E3 visa?

You can enter up to 10 days before your job starts.

How long can I stay out of the United States if I have an E-3 visa?

There is no limit to how long you stay outside the United States, however a condition of your visa is that you are working for your employer so you must remain employed for that period.

Can I take a sabbatical or leave work without pay from an E3 visa?

In reality, no. There are exceptions like pregnancy which will allow you to take extended leave from your work but as a general rule, you are not allowed to take unpaid leave from your work (as this pay is a requirement for your visa).

Do I need to use a lawyer to apply for an E3?

Technically no, but it is recommended to ensure your visa is issued correctly and many employers will insist on using a lawyer.

How can I check the status of my LCA?

Head to the FLAG, the US website for filing LCAs here https://flag.dol.gov/case-status-search