If you are an Australian wanting to live and work in America, the E3 Work Visa may be the perfect answer for you.
I recently returned to Australia after living in America on an E3 Visa for 4.5 years.
What is the E3 Visa?
The E3 Visa is only available to Australians and allows them to work in America for up to two years. It is renewable every two years so effectively you can live in the US indefinitely as long as you are needed there for work and can demonstrate that you want to move back to Australia someday.
There are a couple of things you need to satisfy to be eligible for the E3 Visa:
- You need to have a 4 year bachelors degree. If you don’t have a degree it can be satisfied by an equivalent level of experience. Basically three years of experience equals one year of tertiary study. If you don’r have any tertiary qualification, you would need 12 years of experience in the relevant field. For me, I had a three year degree, and 8 years experience in marketing, so I more than satisfied this requirement.
- You have to show that you intend to return to Australia. This may be Australian bank accounts, or property – basically something showing you intend to come back some time in the future.
- You have to demonstrate that there is an employer who needs you for the specific field that you are trained in. I had an employer who was looking for someone with marketing experience. The employer will have to do a little bit of work on their end. They will need to complete a Labor Condition Application and provide you with a letter of offer showing your salary, position title, location you’ll be working and dates you’ll be starting and ending.
Finding An Employer
The most difficult part of getting an E3 Visa is finding an employer who is prepared to hire you in the US. I initially attempted to apply for jobs online from Australia, even staying up late on Friday nights to try and call as many recruiters and potential employers as possible without much success. I even travelled to the US and did a couple of interviews over a two week period and tried to build up connections that way.
Eventually I got to a point when my job in Australia had finished up and I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere without first being in the US. I planned a 3 month trip on the ESTA visa waiver to meet with employers first, then aimed to fly home and apply for the E3. It kind of worked out that way although I ended up being employed by someone I had met previously (not by any of the jobs I had applied for).
You will need to educate the employers about the E3 visa and the process, most of them have no idea about it. They are familiar with the H1B which is extremely expensive and time consuming. This is one of the reasons why I had been unsuccessful in securing a position. They were unaware of the E3 and they had poor previous experiences hiring overseas workers.
Educating Employers on the E3 Visa
It is important to let prospective employers know about the E3 Visa and how simple it is. Make sure they are aware that there isn’t really any cost to them (apart from the Visa interview which you can pay yourself). You also want to outline how fast the visa comes through. You can get an E3 visa within 2-3 weeks compared to about 6 months for a H1B.
Before Your Interview
Once you have a job offer you will need to schedule your visa appointment. I did this at the US consulate in Melbourne which is on St Kilda Road. You will need to pay your Visa appointment fee and complete the DS160 form online before your interview. You can schedule and complete the form here.
What you need for your interview
You will also need to gather as much evidence as possible to prove your eligibility for the E3 Visa. This will include your letter of offer and LCA provided by the employer. You will also need evidence of your ongoing connection to Australia, qualifications, the front page of your DS160 and receipt for your visa appointment and of course, your passport.
The Visa interview itself is pretty straightforward. You should get there with plenty of time to spare, as the line can be quite long. You will have to go through security, usually they just allow 4-5 people through at a time. Don’t bring a bag or anything other than your documents to the interview. They will ask you to leave most items with security and just take your documents through. Typically the interview is a two stage process and is pretty quick. They’ll take your finger prints and ask you some questions. They will keep your passport and send it to the address provided in your DS160. It has to be a physical address, not a PO Box as they use a courier.
Generally you will have your passport back within two weeks and you should be good to fly to America. When you enter the US, you should also have all the documents you needed for your visa interview handy. They will often want to see proof of employment at the point of entry. This is the case for any time you leave and re enter the US while on this visa.
The E3 Visa will expire after two years so you will need to re apply. Check out our post on what you need to know about renewing your E3 Visa for more details.
Have you applied for an E3 Visa? What was your experience?