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A Beginner's Guide to E3 Visa
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In this article you will read about:

  • An overview of the E3 work visa
  • The E3 visa application process
  • Comparison of E3 and H1B visa

The E-3 and E3D Visa: An Overview

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.

E3 Visa Requirements - Eligibility Criteria

Individuals have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the E-3 visa. These include:

  • Being an Australian passport holder
  • Obtaining an offer of employment from the US
  • Submitting proof of qualifying academic credentials
  • Getting a job offer that meets the 'specialty occupation' requirements
  • Presenting proof that their stay in the US will be temporary

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:

  • Their Australian passport
  • A certified LCA
  • Valid employment letter for a "specialty occupation" role from a US employer
  • A recent resume, and
  • Proof of qualifying educational credentials.

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:

  • Their ability to hire foreign workers in a safe, fair work environment free of exploitation or abuse.
  • It also enables them to show that no talent within the US workforce can qualify for the advertised position.

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:

  • An Australian passport that is current and valid
  • A recent photograph that complies with the latest US visa photograph requirements. You will require one for submission in the DS-160 Form and one for submission at the visa interview.
  • Proof of visa application fee payment - the receipt you receive once payment is done.
  • A letter of support from the sponsoring employer confirming your appointment. The letter should also describe the job role to show that it is a specialty occupation role.
  • Academic credentials showing a bachelor's degree, an equivalent, or higher credential.
  • Licenses you may need to perform your role or proof of intent to obtain one as soon as you arrive in the US.
  • Proof of the absence of intent to stay in the US permanently, such as property or business owned in your home country.
  • LCA filed by your employer
  • DS-160 Form submission confirmation page
  • Proof of interview confirmation
  • I-129 Form - Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, if you are applying from within the US for a COS, Change of Employment, or Extension of Stay

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.

Also Read: TN Visa, H1B, E3 & Other US Non-Immigrant Visa: An In-depth Exploration

E3 Visa Processing Fees

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.

E3 visa Processing Time and E3 Premium Processing

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.

E-3 Visa Vs. H1B Visa: A Comparison

Here is a look at a comparison of the E-3 visa with the H1B visa:

  • The main benefit of the E-3 visa is that the spouse of the E-3 holder is allowed to work in the US.
  • The E-3 can be renewed for two years indefinitely, whereas the H-1B has a maximum validity of six years.
  • The main advantage of H1B over E-3 is that the former is a visa of dual intent. This means that the H-1B holder is allowed to apply for permanent residence while on H1B. This is not allowed for the holders of E-3 visa. When applying for the E-3, the applicant has to prove that they will leave the US at the end of their period of employment.

In conclusion
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.

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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