The E-3 Visa is interesting in that so much of it is undocumented fully related to change of employers, switch to permanent residency, the renewable indefinitely clause, being and working in the country legally while transfer is occurring with USCIS, etc.
However a common question we get asked is the process of renewal or extension of the E-3 Visa. To be honest, practically it seems like most people whether extended, renewing or changing employers just file a new application and get a new E-3 visa overseas. Many do it in Canada as it is close by.
The main reason being that it is more costly to apply for extension of your E-3 visa and the processing times for extension and change of employer that have to be done with USCIS and can potentially take many months. Generally it seems to take 4-8 weeks but even so that can present problems with your status in the meantime if you are not still employed.
Additionally if you have extended your visa or changed employers within the US and then leave the US to travel, you will have to go through the application for a new visa anyway to re-enter the country and thus pay all the consular costs. So it seems pointless given the short duration of the visa for 2 years to pay costs for extension only to have to pay the new visa application costs again.
There is no limit on the number of years an Australian national may hold E-3 status. Initial admission as an E-3 can be up to two years; extensions of stay are granted in up to two-year periods
E-3 beneficiaries may obtain a new period of E-3 admission at a U.S. consulate overseas, or may extend E-3 status by having their employer file an extension request with USCIS. Extension requests may be filed as early as six months before the current stay expires, and should be filed as far in advance of the E-3 expiration as possible.
As we said it is a grey area as to people E-3 status are permitted to continue working while the E-3 extension or change of employer application is processing if the current visa is expired.
Many at USCIS will tell you it works like H-1B which means you can as that is what visa the E-3 was modelled on and uses many of its terms and conditions except when specified otherwise. However others telly because it is not specifically writen anywhere this is not the case.
So your employer prepares a new Form ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application (LCA) if you are just going to do a new E-3 visa via a renewal or change employers and get a new visa.
If extending the stay through USCIS, your employer has to prepare a new Form ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application (LCA) and Form I-129. There are filing fees for the I-129 form.
USCIS sends Form I-797 Approval Notice to the employer or attorney of record as notification of the decision on the extension request.
I hope this best answers this weird part of the E-3 visa terms of operation and I wish you well in either your;
- renewal of your E-3 Visa
- extension of your E-3 Visa
- change of employer of your E-3 Visa
SPECIAL EDIT: FIND OUT THE COMPANIES THAT YOU PROBABLY SHOULD NOT APPLY TO THIS YEAR BECAUSE IT WILL BE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO HIRE FOREIGNERS ON E-3 VISAS