E3 Visa Renewal & Reissue Without US Consulate Interview

So occasionally the US Immigration system makes some positive changes. We recently talked about the ability to use an unexpired US visa in your old passport while using a new passport to travel and now a recent change will help the E3 visa renewal process to be quicker for some people.

The E3 visa itself is on the lower end of complex non-immigrant visas in the US Immigration system in terms of documents, costs, competition, approval process and logistics of actually obtaining the US visa in your passport.

However the US Immigration system is inherently complex and often very unfair and unforgiving, and many people unfairly get caught up in this. Often with the E3 visa this happens at the last hurdle just when an applicant is up to the final stage and attending their E3 Visa US Consulate Interview. Often not fully prepared people are in a manner of speaking ambushed at this juncture and can have their visa application outright denied or almost as bad have it go through Administrative Processing.

Now many people are up to or have gone through their first E3 visa renewal after their 2 year period and others have gone through 2 or 3 visa renewals. Now this E3 visa renewal can be done within the US but the drawbacks with this approach are that it has to be done via the USCIS. This means the process can take up to 6 months but on average for most people seems to take about 1-3 months to be approved. So this requires plenty of planning in advance with your employer if this is to be done.

Unlike the H1B visa where it explicitly states, that a foreigner on this visa can continue working while this renewal application is being process, the E3 does not. This is actually common with the E3 visa in that USCIS directives are that when in doubt it should follow the H1B visa legislation since that is what it was modeled on and is similar too, however as it is not explicitly written in the law, different people give different advice both from the Legal industry and from within the US Government itself! Therefore if you talk to E3 visa holders they will give you different advice and different good and horror stories. Because of this what tends to happen as I mentioned above for those that want to do it wihin the country, they tend to plan and do the application well in advance to avoid any potential immigration issues.

The other thing to note in regards to the E3 visa renewal petition itself with the USCIS is that a new Labor Condition Application approval is needed from the Department of Labor and then a fee is required to be paid to the USCIS for the E3 visa renewal petition which is currently over $300 USD. This differs from doing the application outside the US where the only fee is the US Consulate application fee which is approximately $130 USD.

The biggest drawback other than the cost/time issue with doing the E3 visa renewal within the US is that you don’t actually get a new E3 visa. In fact as far as the US Government is concerned it is not your US Visa that has been renewed or extended it is your US Visa status that has been extended. This subtle distinction which may seem just semantics actually means a lot.

If you were to travel Internationally anywhere after your current E3 visa has expired but you have an approval for extension of E3 visa status from the USCIS, you will need to re-apply again for a new E3 visa at a US Consulate. A vaild and unexpired US visa is needed for re-entry into the US and the extension of status you received within the US just means you can continue working legally and operate as normal but does not give you the new visa which is the only thing that get you reentry into the United States under that same visa status.

So given all that what is the positive change that has recently been made for E3 Visa Renewals and Reissues.

Well for Australian citizens on the E3 visa who;

  • Are applying for the same type of visa within 12 months of the expiration of your previous visa?
  • Have previously provided a full set of 10 fingerprints at a Consulate during a visa interview?
  • Are an Australian citizen or permanent resident?
  • Area resident of the Consular district in which you are applying for your visa?
  • Where the previous visa approved at the time of the interview without any correspondence from the Consulate indicating your application required further administrative processing?
    and whose…
  • Previous visa was not lost, stolen, or revoked;
  • Have not changed your name or nationality since the issuance of your last U.S. visa;
  • Have not been previously refused a visa or entry into the US;
  • Previous visa did not require a waiver of ineligibility (For example: criminal convictions)
  • Have had no arrests or convictions (other than minor traffic violations) that have occurred since your previous visa was issued.
  • Have no ineligibilities or reason to believe you have failed to comply with U.S. immigration law

So if you could answer yes to all those question you may be eligible to the E3 Visa Renewal and Reissue without attending the US Consulate Interview. It should be noted that you have to present within your designated Consular district within this time and you have to mail the application from Australia and not from the US.

There isn’t any word on the processing time of all this but if they could legitimately receive an application you posted on Monday, on Tuesday. Then take 24 hours to review and to the E3R E3 visa renewal in you passport and mail it back to you by Thursday or Friday that same week, then it could definitely be worth it. However if it takes much longer than this period to process that could effect many people’s plans so we will report back as we find out more and look forward to your feedback and experiences with this process.

CJ

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58 thoughts on “E3 Visa Renewal & Reissue Without US Consulate Interview

  1. Kim if you are doing a renewal of an existing E-3 visa with the same employer, known as the E-3R visa, there is little risk doing it anywhere. We have never heard reports of people having renewal issues in Canada or elsewhere. The processing time will still likely be on average 2 days after your Consulate interview. However do book your interview well in advance as they can be hard to get at desired times even a month or two in advance.
    Cj

  2. Hi CJ,
    I am SO glad I stumbled across your site. I have learnt more in the last hour I’ve been reading your information and the comments/replies than I have from my immigration lawyer. That being said I have some questions, because I’m freaking out and again my immigration lawyer is useless.
    So my e3 visa expired in feb 2014, and my immigration lawyer told me when I called her in October of 2013 that we could renew my e3 visa up until the day it expired. I called her to be proactive and because I was going home to Australia for a visit in Novemeber 2013 and wondered if I needed to do anything while I was there. She said no. Clearly, I could’ve had an interview and had this all sorted by now, but because I was misinformed I am back in the US with an expired visa and a very unhelpful lawyer. Apparently (I say this because I don’t trust her) we have filed my renewal for my e3 with the same employer, which was done sometime in early Feb 2014…. I called her to find out if she knew anything about the status of my renewal ‘no I don’t just be patient’. Ok great but I’m not a huge risk taker and don’t want to mess with the American government. Will my application be jeopardized if it was filed in the US (nothing was sent from Australia) and/or it was possibly filed post expiration of my then current e3 visa?? My lawyer only took photocopies of my expired visa etc so I don’t know. And the stupid part is I got a lawyer so I could trust that everything would be done on time and reliably!!!!! Wth?? I’m out to pocket, stressed out to the max, and worried that US Goverment officials are going to come and take me away in handcuffs!
    Can you help alleviate any of my worries??
    Also, is there anyway for me to check the status of my application for renewal if my lawyer submitted everything??

    Annnnnd finally! I was offered a new job just recently, which I would like to take … It is 32 hours a week – is this enough to be considered full time on the e3 visa? I don’t trust any information from my lawyer as I’m sure you can understand why now.
    And if it is, and if I have had the 10 fingerprint thing done at my original interview in Perth, can I submit a new application for an e3 visa with this is new employer that way? While my other application is in limbo (if it was even submitted!)??

    I’m sorry for all the questions… I told you it was complicated!!!
    I REALLY appreciate any help you can give me!!!!

  3. Hi SJA,
    If you have your case no. you can go to USCIS online and check the status of your case. As long as the application was received prior the expiry of current visa then you are OK until the outcome of your application. You are allowed to renew your E3 visa within the US if done this way. Technically this is called extension of E3 status if approved allowing you to continually work and operate as you did before but you don’t get an actual stamp in your passport. The next time you leave the US you will still have to go and get the actual E-3 visa stamp the normal way as you did as only a visa stamp that is unexpired allows you back into the country.
    You are allowed to work part time on the E-3 visa as long as the wage being paid is at or above the prevailing wage. If you are wanting to transfer your E-3 status/visa within the US you have to go through a similar process and time for processing as renewal (2-4 months on average). Technically you can’t start on the new employer until approved and you can’t be out of work for more than 10 days so logically would have to stay at your current employer. That is why most people who have a new potential employer leave the US and get a new E-3 visa via a US Consulate with the same process as you have done originally for the new employer as ends up being a lot quicker.
    Cj

  4. Thank you so much CJ for your prompt reply and again, your wonderful website. I would rather pay you the exorbitant amounts I am paying my immigration lawyer, for well, apparently nothing.

    So, I suspect my lawyer did NOT submit my renewal on time… I had all the paperwork to her but she seemed to not be phased by the deadline with a ‘oh it’ll all be submitted in a few days…’ Comment that is ringing a bell. So does that mean I’m stuffed?! (Sorry for the language) but I am in panic mode. And if so… What do I do about it?? Can I report my lawyer? (Is that even possible???) clearly if I had done the research myself I would’ve had everything sorted so how on earth does a self proclaimed (and licensed!) immigration lawyer not know the rules??????

    In regards to the job offer, it is suppose to be a full-time position, but I am not sure of what qualifies as full-time hours for the e3?? Do you by chance? Also, given the mess I’m in…. If I was to leave the country now In an attempt to apply for a new e3 visa will I be handcuffed and taken away? Or at least refused?! I’m so worried my lawyer has stuffed everything up and that’s ridiculous because she’s a LAWYER!
    My dad text me saying he couldn’t sleep over this… This is how much it is affecting my and my families life. And I don’t know what to do.

  5. SJA to confirm your application receipt date you should get your case number from your lawyer and then check online here; https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard.do. If that date is after your visa expiry date but very close (say within 10 days) you might be ok with grace periods. If it is 1-3 months afterwards you also may be ok but they may process your application as a new visa application which just would mean you would have to leave the country after processing to get a new E-3 visa and then return. In general if you have a pending application with USCIS regardless of your prior status (so even if you were an illegal immigrant), you are allowed to remain in the US legally if you are already here until processing is completed.
    In regards to your job question it really all comes down to the Prevailing Wage regardless of the amount of hours as a part or full time worker; http://visacoach.org/2013/05/13/prevailing-wage-how-much-does-a-foreigner-need-to-be-paid/
    Cj

  6. Hi CJ,
    Thank you again and again for all your help and wonderful information. I will be sending every Australian I know with questions about the e3 to your wonderful website! I wish I had known of this site earlier so I didn’t waste time and money on a lawyer!

    Good news…. My visa renewal application was submitted ONE day before it expired. I can’t even explain the amount of weight that has been lifted knowing this. I obtained my case no from my lawyer and when I checked it the application says initial review, still. Know this can take 60-90 days which is annoying but I can’t do anything about it. My last question is… Can I put a NEW application in for my new job while this other application is pending??? I would really like to start my new job ASAP so am willing to go outside of the US with all my paperwork (which I already have sorted) to get my new visa….

    Thanks again CJ. Your help has been so very much appreciated.
    SJA.

  7. SJA if you are going for a new job on the E-3 visa and going to leave the country to get a new visa then all you need is the approved LCA from the Department of Labor. As you can see almost all of these if approved come within 7 days (http://visacoach.org/2014/01/28/e3-visa-lca-statistics-2014/). Once you have that you take that along with your job offer letter and the same personal proofs you took for your initial E-3 visa interview at the US Consulate and go get a new visa stamp. If you have any open pending applications with USCIS and you leave the US, those applications are just considered abandoned so just will no longer be processed or apply.
    Cj

  8. Hello

    I have an E3 application pending at the USCIS Vermont processing center. My employer’s attorney said he’d recently had an E3 approved within 2 weeks via Vermont and that Canadian consulates weren’t processing third party national non-immigrant visas this summer (some DOS memo to AILA?) so I agreed to go with USCIS processing rather than consular processing.

    Its been 4 weeks now and I recently connected with an immigration lawyer whose client’s E3 just got approved this week via Vermont and it took 3 months! Im freaking out a bit because Im not working and my employer wants me to be back at work asap (I was working on F1/ OPT).

    If I wanted to switch to consular processing can you advise what the process is? Can I the USCIS application keep running and then cancel any consular interview if it was approved by USCIS prior to my interview? Do you know anything about what the Canadian consulates are doing?

    Thanks :)

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