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The E-3 non-immigrant visa is allotted to Australian citizens under the Fair Trade Agreement signed between Australia and the US. It gives Australian citizens with sufficient qualifications the opportunity to temporarily live and work in the US in a 'specialty occupation.'
With an E-3 status, the individual must live and work under an employer's sponsorship. They cannot self-sponsor it. The E-3 rules set very specific conditions for its holder. These determine who they can work for, period of employment, job location, and roles they can perform.
Benefits of the E-3 Visa
There are many benefits the E-3 visa holds for Australian citizens. For example, if they are filing for the E-3 from a consulate office abroad, they will not have to go through a filing process or pay a filing fee to the US government.
A further benefit of the E-3 category is that the dependents of an E-3 visa holder can accompany them on the E-3D visa. They can also find employment after getting an employment authorization approved. They can work for as long as the E-3 visa of the primary holder remains valid.
Individuals have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the E-3 visa. These include:
The yearly E-3 cap
The US government has set an annual quota or "cap" of 10,500 E-3 visas for Australian citizens. The limit does not extend to individuals applying for an extension on their E-3 visa under the same employer or to E-3D visa holders dependent on the E-3 visa holders.
E-3 Visas - The Application Process
You can apply for an E-3 visa either from within the US or abroad. Here's a brief look at ways to apply for an E3:
Applying within the US
This usually only applies to applying for a Change of Status or extension of the visa. The E-3 employer applies for the change or extension with the USCIS by filing the I-129 form and submitting supporting documentation.
Applying from Australia or another country
The applicant approaches a US Embassy office in the country they are applying from. Here they have to submit:
Steps towards visa processing
The application process for the E-3 visa involves an Australian employee and a US employer.
1. The primary requirement is to find a valid specialty occupation job in the US. Going through several interviews online maybe necessary before deciding on the right one. Once this step is complete, the US employer takes over.
2. The US employer has to obtain a certified LCA or Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor. Through this document, the employer shows:
With the E-3 visa, only an approved LCA is required. There will be no requirement for filing an I-129 form with the USCIS, which is a requirement in the application process for other work visas.
3. Once the LCA is approved, the ball moves back into the applicant's court. They can move through the steps to obtain the E-3 visa. The next step is to file the DS-160 non-immigrant visa application form. Here you will have to provide personal information and explain your intent to visit the US. Upon submission, you will see a confirmation page with a code that you will require later in the process.
4. Once you receive the code, it is time to compile documents for your E-3 visa application. Here is a document check-list to help you ensure you don't miss anything:
5. The final yet most important step is to attend the visa interview. Here you can expect the officer to evaluate your case through questions that will determine your character, the validity of your job in the US, educational credentials and previous work experiences, and the validity of your intent to leave the US once your term of employment comes to an end.
Here's a gist of the fees you will incur when you apply for the E-3 visa:
Visa filing fees: USD 205
This is the only amount you will have to pay when filing for the visa at a US embassy or consulate office outside the US. Since there is no Fraud Prevention Fee, ACWIA fee, or LCA fee, the E-3 visa application fee is much lower than that of most other US employment visas.
If you are applying for a COS or extension of stay from within the US, you may opt for Premium Processing. Fees for premium processing of E-3 change or extension of status is USD 2,500.
You can expect between four to six weeks of E3 visa processing time. This period is dependent on several variables, including the time you take to gather your documents and the availability of dates for your visa interview appointment.
For E3 renewals or change of employers, you can use the Premium Processing option, which will give you a decision on your application within fifteen days. Renewal on the E3 is usually granted in two-year periods. This can be done indefinitely, as long as you can show proof that you intend to return when you have to.
Here is a look at a comparison of the E-3 visa with the H1B visa:
The E-3 visa is a great way for Australians to temporarily live and work in the US. You can secure the visa quickly if you can obtain satisfactory proof that you will return once your visa expires.
Techfetch H1B is well-versed in the intricate details and updates regarding H1B Visa.
**Disclaimer: US immigration laws are subject to change. Please refer to the official USCIS website for the latest updates.