For Australian citizens, the E-3 visa is a unique pathway to achieve permanent residence in the United States. The E-3 visa is a U.S. work visa exclusively available to Australian nationals, and it offers an exciting opportunity to live and work in the United States.
What is the E-3 Visa?
The E-3 visa is a specialized work visa reserved exclusively for Australian citizens. It was created as a part of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement and allows Australian nationals to come to the United States to perform work in a specialty occupation. A "specialty occupation" typically requires a high level of specialized knowledge, often including an advanced degree or extensive professional experience.
One of the significant advantages of the E-3 visa is that it offers dual intent. This means that E-3 visa holders can pursue the possibility of obtaining lawful permanent resident status (a green card) while still maintaining their E-3 status.
E-3 Visa Transfer Process
If you are currently on an E-3 visa with one employer and wish to transfer to a different employer in the United States, you'll need to navigate the E-3 transfer process. You can initiate this process at a U.S. Consulate abroad, or by applying for a change of employer at a service center in the U.S. Below is a step-by-step guide to assist you with both scenarios.
Transferring Your E-3 Visa from Within the U.S.
- Secure a New Job Offer — First and foremost, you'll need to find a new job with a U.S. employer who is willing to hire you. The new position must also meet the criteria for a "specialty occupation.”
- New Labor Condition Application (LCA) — The new employer should file a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The LCA certifies that the new employment complies with E-3 visa regulations, including the prevailing wage for the job.
- Submit Form ETA-9035E — Once the new LCA is certified by the DOL, you must submit Form ETA-9035E, the LCA notice, to inform the DOL of your intent to transfer to the new employer.
- File a New E-3 Visa Petition — The new employer needs to file a new E-3 visa petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition should include documentation and evidence showing that the new job is a specialty occupation, and that you meet the required qualifications.
- Attend Visa Interview (if applicable) — If you're outside the U.S., you may need to attend an E-3 visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. However, if you're already within the U.S., you can apply for a change of employer without the need for an interview.
Applying for a New E-3 Visa Stamp at a U.S. Consulate in Australia
- Secure a Job Offer — Begin by securing a job offer with a U.S. employer that meets the criteria for a specialty occupation.
- New LCA — The employer must file a new LCA with the DOL. The LCA certifies that the job adheres to E-3 visa regulations and outlines the prevailing wage.
- Submit Form ETA-9035E — Similar to the process within the U.S., submit Form ETA-9035E to inform the DOL of your intent to apply for a new E-3 visa.
- Complete Form DS-160 — Fill out the online Form DS-160, the application for a U.S. visa. You'll need to pay the associated application fee.
- Schedule a Visa Appointment — Visit the U.S. consulate or embassy in Australia's website to schedule a visa appointment. Be prepared to provide necessary documentation, including your passport, DS-160 confirmation page, photo, and supporting materials from your new employer.
- Attend the Visa Interview — Attend the visa interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy. Be ready to answer questions about your job offer, qualifications, and your intent to return to Australia upon the completion of your employment in the U.S.
- Visa Issuance — If your visa application is approved, the U.S. consulate will issue a new E-3 visa stamp. You can then travel to the U.S. to commence your new job.
Which Option is Better?
Applying at a U.S. Consulate in Australia is the more common option because applying from within the U.S. typically involves a longer processing timeline, of between 2 and 4 months.The option of premium processing, which expedites the review process, is unavailable for E-3 visa petitions. On top of that, applications submitted within the United States are subjected to more extensive scrutiny compared to those processed at a U.S. Consulate.
Furthermore, although U.S.-based applicants receive an approval notice allowing them to remain in the U.S. and continue working for their new employer, this approval notice does not result in the issuance of an actual visa stamp in the passport. Consequently, if individuals wish to travel outside the U.S. after obtaining approval, they must initiate the application process for an E-3 visa stamp. Effectively, this means that applicants would be required to apply for the same E-3 visa twice.
Consult with an Irvine Immigration Attorney Today
Navigating the E-3 visa transfer process can be confusing, but with the right guidance, it is entirely manageable. At Yekrangi & Associates, we have extensive experience helping Australian nationals successfully transition to new employers while maintaining their E-3 status. Our team is here to offer support and guidance at every stage of the E-3 transfer process and beyond. If you are an Australian citizen with an E-3 visa and are considering a change of employer, or if you are interested in exploring the possibilities of the E-3 visa for the future, contact Yekrangi & Associates today.