E-3 Visa: Migrating to the US as an Australian

The easiest way to temporarily migrate to the US as an Australian (outside of a tourist visa) is on an E-3 visa. The E-3 is very similar to the H1-B, but with a few notable differences.

This is a special visa category recently set up for Australian professionals looking to work temporarily in the US. It is a great visa category for Australians looking to bypass the long queue and the lottery surrounding the more popular and ever constricted H1-B visas. 10,500 E-3 visas are alloted per fiscal year and they have yet to exhaust this number at any year, so there are plenty to go around.

Some things to note about the E-3 visa:

  1. Like the H1-B, one must have a job offer from a US employer in a specialized occupation (the specialty occupation designation is the same as the H1-B) and possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  2. You have to be an Australian National (not just in Australia).
  3. If you’re already in the United States on another valid visa, it is possible to change your status to an E-3 visa.
  4. Unlike the H1-B (six years maximum normally), there is no prohibition on the length of the E-3 visa — it can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the requirements of the E-3 visa are met.
  5. Another advantage of the E-3, is that E-3 visa holder’s spouses can obtain work authorization, unlike H-4s who are not allowed to work.
  6. The major disadvantage that comes up is the dual intent issue. With H1-Bs, it is commonly understood that the visa is can be used to gain permanent residency later on and it’s not just a non-immigrant visa. The E-3 is a non-immigrant visa, meaning one shouldn’t have the intention of settling permanently in the US. However, there is no foreign residency requirement either — meaning that one doesn’t have to prove strong ties to the homeland in order to be approved. A simple statement attesting an intent to return to Australia should suffice. E-3 visa holders, like other E visa holders should be able to stay a long time and if circumstances change, move onto immigrant visa.

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