Extending, Renewing or Changing Employers on Your E3 Visa

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

CJ

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

375 thoughts on “Extending, Renewing or Changing Employers on Your E3 Visa

  1. Hi CJ,

    My E3 visa expires tomorrow and I was wondering if I would be able to reapply at the US Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico and re-enter the Mexico/American border as I will still be within my 10 day status? My company filed for my LCA 4 days ago and I am still waiting for it so I haven’t been able to submit my application. I was going to just apply with USCIS for a renewal, but was unaware that it was not a multiple entry visa and I am getting married on a cruise next May which leaves the country.
    This site is amazing and I’m glad I found it. Thank you in advance for your advice. It has been a huge help!

  2. Hi Colin,
    You can’t reapply for the E3 visa until you have an approved LCA. Given your visa is expiring you would need to leave within 10 days of expiry to remain legally compliant. To renew your E3 visa you need to plan months in advance of your E3 visa expiring. The E3 visa is a multiple entry visa unless the consulate designates otherwise for you specifically which it almost never does and I have never heard of. Multiple entry just means you can enter and reenter during the period of your visa validity not afterwards. So once your LCA is approved, then you would need to use that document along with the other supporting documents like offer letter, etc. that you used with your original E3 visa application and interview at a US consulate. As it is a same company, the actual visa will be an E3R visa.
    Good Luck,
    Cj

  3. Thank you for that CJ! My LCA will be here this week. What I am wondering is if I will need to go back to Australia to reapply or can I just go to Mexico and go to an American Consulate there?

  4. Hi CJ,

    Firstly, thanks so much for running the most useful site re. E3 visas on the internet!! It’s a great resource for all of us going through the complicated processes of dealing with Immigration officials and red tape!

    My question is about canceling an E3 visa. I am currently on one but have resigned from my position and am relocating back to Australia, but will potentially want to come back to the US to work again in the future.

    Do you know if I need to notify Immigration that I am no longer working, so they can cancel the visa? Or do I just wait for it to expire?

    I can only find info on extending or transferring the visa, not canceling it, so hoping you can help.

    Thanks again for all your hard work!

    Penny

  5. Colin, I suggest you leave the country tonight to avoid problems with your extension. There is NO grace period once your visa/I-94 expires. You should seek new legal advise because staying in the US beyond that expiration will be considered violation especially in these times when they are scrutinizing everything and anything.

  6. You do not need to do anything, once you resign and leave the US, your visa will be cancelled automatically. Make sure that you leave the same day you end your job or the very next day at the most to avoid any future problems. You do not want them to tell you that you overstayed.

  7. LH_Boston, did you get your spouse EAD?

    D_Shah, I did not get anything yet and now will be almost 3 months this week. Not sure what is going on with VSC. I guess LH_Boston is very very lucky to have gotten it so fast, good for him/her.

    For us the wait continues, really getting depressed now with this whole process.

  8. My lawyer contacted them and according to them, they are now working on the cases that are during my timelines so there might be some updates soon. Don’t know how much we can trust that but that’s the news from me.

  9. My employer got the same response from them today so not sure whether to believe it or if it is just a generic response. Wait and see what happens I guess, nothing else that we can do!

  10. End of another week, nothing yet from VSC. This wait is so frustrating, anxiety might give me a heart attack. I am almost out of time on the current one and my company says that the 240 day rule that applies to H1 does not apply to E3 to work after current I94 expiration. Can anyone confirm if this is true please?

  11. More than 3 months now, still nothing. D_Shah, sent you an email.

    I wonder if VSC is closed today due to snow storm and lack of power?

  12. hey guys,

    Does anyone know what happens if my employment contract starts before October 1st (specifically July)?

    Under an H1-B, I believe you cannot work before October 1st. Is this the case for the E-3 too?

    Much appreciated.

  13. I just received my spouse’s EAD card yesterday. The whole process of E3 extension and EAD renewal took almost 4 months. I made a mistake that I sent the EAD application to another service center and it was later transferred to Vermont, which wasted some time. In the past, we always went to Ottawa to get the visa stamps and the process was always smooth. But with new born twins, I had to take this USCIS approach and it has been frustrating.

  14. LH_Boston, thank you for coming back to update us. Congratulations and you are one of the very lucky one. I am still waiting for approval of E3 and E3D. EAD was sent by VSC to TSC and TSC sent RFE asking for approval notices. My visa expires this month.

    If you dont mind, can you say whether your attorney wrote “E3 for Australian” on your LCA or the I-129 form front page? The last time I did it, it was a different attorney who wrote that and this time the attorney did not do it. I am wondering if this is the reason for such a long delay and maybe my application is in the H1B line.

    My employer wanted to do it only through uscis so am stuck even if i want to go to Canada I can’t. This whole process is so stressful for me and spouse employer not going to wait after this month if there is no EAD.

    Thanks for coming back to update us and congrats, must be a big relief. Good luck with everything.

  15. Still waiting, its ridiculous. They should at least have the premium processing option for E3 visa. E3 needs it more than perhaps H1 since spouse EAD for a E3 dependent cannot be processed without extension approvals, which according to current times is 4 months almost and still received nothing!!

  16. Hi,
    I am currently in the US on an E3 visa and looking to change my employer. I am thinking of going to Canada to apply for a new E3 visa once I get a job offer. Can I fill out the online application and schedule an interview appointment while I am in the US or these have to be done outside of the US ?
    Thank you.
    Ap

  17. Ap,
    You can fill out one of the DS forms but before that you need to just make an appointment. Once the appointment is made, all instructions will be there.

  18. Finally got approval last week, a week or so before my current E3 expires. Have to re-apply for spouse EAD again since RFE deadline expired. So the process has still not concluded even after 4 months, not sure how long it will take to get EAD now.

  19. Hi there

    I’m about to submit a change of employer to the USCIS. I’m told it’ll be a 1-3 month wait period. Can anyone tell me more about this process? I cannot earn money whilst waiting for the new visa right? So virtually I have no income until I hear back and there’s no guarantee of approval right? Is it possible to be paid but have the employer hold back on documenting payment until I have the visa and record it from that date? There’s got to be some way around it to enable people to survive. The 10 day restriction is basically impossible too but I did it. The E3 is and has been a nightmare of battles for me.

  20. There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet about whether you can work for your new employer before receiving a new E3 after submitting your paperwork to USCIS. I hired an immigration lawyer this time around, this is my 3rd E3 (and I have learnt A LOT!!! about this horrible visa process). My lawyer told me that I could not start with the new employer or earn money legally until I have the new E3. We submitted the paperwork last week…a little outside the 10 day period they inflict on you. The current processing time is 1-3 months.

    First of all…I found all this information utterly ridiculous and impossible. Secondly…I accepted it and was working my butt of trying to look for an alternate income under the table. How on earth can they expect you to wait up to 3 months…or longer and potentially lose your job?? So my instincts all along have been proven right. They can’t.

    I have to emails from the Melbourne US Consultate stating these facts:

    1. Your new employer must lodge a new Labor Condition Application (LCA), and the gap between jobs must be 10 days or less.

    That meaning you must start work within 10 days. Given the LCA process takes exactly 7 days for approval….10 days is suffice and this now makes sense. I was informed the 10 days was to find another job, apply for the LCA AND lodge your paperwork for a new E3 to USCIS…which is IMPOSSIBLE…but ironically I did do that 😉

    And the all important answer to my question about whether I can start work with me new employer…..

    2. You must have an approved LCA signed by your employer and the Department of Labor.

    This is music to my ears and now it makes sense. I hope this helps other people.

    And for the record, I have fought hard for my E3’s. I do not have a Uni Degree and did have a document to equate my work experience to one…which I did myself! I lost my initial job offer after all the processing and approval was done costing me money so bad luck there. Then I came back to the US under a tourist visa and go another job offer…went back to Australia after giving myself a short time frame to return as I’d booked my return ticket and had established myself in the US. The LCA was denied 3 times because of my employer’s errors even though I told therem where the error was, then forcing me to hire an immigration lawyer in Australia to tell them what I had already told them. I had the pending to be approved LCA when I had my interview with the Consultate and it was approved pending approval of that LCA. Complicated stuff I know…trust me… I have earnt a degree in this process alone! So then I come back to the US….assuming I’m going to work for my new employer for the next 2 years. I buy a car, ship over a bunch of stuff AND on my 11th working day I am terminated over the phone by a lady at my job who took a serious disliking to the Australian! No reason…fired. Fortunately…and luck on my side again…the original job offer I had earlier in the year was reinstated to help keep me here. So I already had an LCA for this job. I got an immigration attorney to fill out my Change of Employer I-29 because I did NOT want to take any risks and be thrown out of the US after spending thousands of dollars getting here. So now….I am with a wonderful employer, I’m happy and I’m well educated on the E3. I have spent hours and hours and HOURS on this visa and if I had my time over….I would never gone down this path again. It IS an easy visa, it’s cheaper etc but there’s no concrete facts about the rules and processes…which is crazy.

    So if anyone ever has any questions…feel free to ask. Good luck and don’t let anything stop you in this journey….it IS possible.

  21. Yp I got the approval last week it took 4 months and 10 days..can’t believe it. Hope I never have to wait that long again

  22. @E3 Issue : In your description, i couldn’t figure out one thing. Can you or can you not work on a USCIS receipt once the company applied for your I129 ? If you can do you have anything(mail from USCIS or US consulate ) to support that?

  23. D_Shah….I have a few email responses to my Change of Employer queries from the US Consultate.

    “To change you employers while in the United States on an E-3 visa, you do not need to have another interview or make a new visa application. However, you must complete the transfer process through U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS). Your new employer must lodge a new Labor Condition Application (LCA), and the gap between jobs must be 10 days or less.

    Once in the U.S. you are responsible for maintaining the correct immigration status with USCIS. Please direct any inquiries about the transfer process to them. Information can be found on their website at http://www.uscis.gov or you can contact their National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283.

    If you have a change in status and exit the United States, you will need to file an application for a new visa. The process for doing this can be found on our website;

    http://canberra.usembassy.gov/consular/visas/niv/index.html

    I then followed up with another email and said “Can I work for my new employer whilst waiting for USCIS confirmation?”. They replied with:

    “You must have an approved LCA signed by your employer and the Department of Labor”.

    So I am assuming that I can. All my research complies with exactly what the USCIS states. It’s quite simple. Well that’s what I’m going with even though my $300 per hour immigration attorney says otherwise.

    “If you want to change the purpose of your visit while in the United States, you (or in some cases your employer) must file a request with USCIS on the appropriate form before your authorized stay expires.

    In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.”

    “Change of Employment
    Your new employer must file a new Labor Condition Application and a new E-3 visa application. The gap between the jobs must be 10 days or less.
    Note: Form I-129 is used to apply for an extension of stay or change of employment.”

  24. I also spoke with USCIS this morning. They couldn’t confirm a processing time for the Vermont Centre for E3 Change of Employer’s as it’s not stated anywhere on their system. She also advised that if we wanted my employer or attorney could call and ask for expedited processing without additional charge. The other option is to request Premium Processing (15 days) by calling with that request also.

    D_Shah Can I ask you….did your employer wait for you to come onboard for that 4 month wait period? It’s crazy!

  25. E3 Issue : Yes they waited that long, reason being I am already working for them as a contractor. I don’t think premium processing is allowed, how did you find out that it is?

  26. D_Shah – that’s great they waiting for you. Can I ask how you worked as a contractor in the US?

    The USCIS told me about the the premium processing over the phone today. My attorney also told me. It costs about $1200 on top of your filing fee and is actioned within 15 calendar days. They also advised that your employer can call to request an expedited process. I called again this evening to see what another officer would say and again same thing. But this time they told me once the receipt is received of acknowledging your change of employer from USCIS, then send a letter back to the same processing unit (Vermont in my case) from your employer requesting an expedited application….and wait.

  27. Hi all, i’m planning to change employer. Can I process with out leaving US.
    appreciate your help.

  28. Hi, Really good website. This has been my bible for the e3 journey. I’m changing employers since the original one turned out to be a disappointment. I now have secured another position and have received a letter of employment The new employer has filed the LCA. Once approved, I will do a self file of the I-129. My question is how much the I-129 filing fee cost for an e3 visa? I’ve seen figures for H1B and the others. I just don’t want to send a cheque or whatever and get the process delayed by sending the wrong amount.

    Regards

    Henry

  29. Hi CJ, thank you for all your help on this great website. I don’t think if this question was ever asked explicitly, so let me ask it here. Suppose I’m on a valid E3 visa, and I want to apply for a new one (with the same employer) well before the one old expires. Can my employer file a new LCA, after which I book a consular appointment in Canada, go there to apply for a new E3 and wait to get it, then come back safely into the US? Thank you again.

  30. Henry the filing fee for the I-129 is standard $325 for any visa classification.
    Cj

  31. Appvid yes you can change employers on the H-1B or E-3 visa without leaving the US but there is different processes for both as well as wait times which you can read here.
    Cj

  32. Hi CJ,

    Thanks for the great site!

    I have a question on changing employers that I haven’t seen answered anywhere.

    I need to give four weeks notice to my current employer.

    Do I need to resign, serve those four weeks, then cross my fingers and go to Toronto hoping that they will give me a new visa?

    Or, can I somehow get the new visa before resigning, with its start date set to four weeks in the future, then come back into the USA on my current visa, resign and serve out my last four weeks, then re-enter the country on my new visa and start working for the new employer? That would be preferable since I’d obviously rather not resign if my new visa ends up being denied.

    I’d like to avoid changing status via USCIS purely because of how long it takes, but if it’s a safer option then I’ll just do that.

    I haven’t been able to find an answer to this question anywhere on the net, would really appreciate tips from anyone who can help!

    phb

    PS. Also, how would me getting a fresh E3 affect a dependent? Do they need to quit their job and wait for a new EAD?

  33. Hi PHB,

    If you get a new E-3 visa outside the US, they will cancel you current E-3 visa and you enter the US on your new one. They decide what date goes on your E-3 visa based on your LCA, but you can’t have 2 valid E-3 visas in your passport.

    Due to the lack of explicit portability on the E-3 visa as opposed to H-1B visa (i.e. allowing someone to start working at a new company which their transfer application processes with USCIS – usually takes around 3 months), most people follow the route of getting a new E-3 visa outside the US. Some people have just started working at new company on E-3 visa as you can on H-1B during transfer processing but this is a very grey area and if your ask USCIS about it you will get a myriad of responses depending on who you talk too.

    The E-3D dependent visa is based on your E-3 visa so needs to match that so any dependents would be issued new visas when you go do yours or need to do transfers themselves within US via their own I-129. I think as far as their EAD is concerned they should be fine.

    Look unless you think it is a major risk of denial with your new company, I would just get a new E-3 visa as is the cleanest solution for a new company.

    Cj

  34. Wow thanks for the quick reply CJ!

    Let me just see if I understood correct. My options are:

    * Do it with USCIS. The drawback is waiting 2+ months. The benefit is security in that I can wait for I-129 to be approved before resigning. If it’s denied I can stay at my current job without ever having mentioned resigning.

    * Do it at a consulate. The drawback is I need to resign first and hope everything goes well with the new E-3. The benefit is turnaround time. My dependent’s employment shouldn’t be interrupted; their current EAD will work with their new E-3D.

    I don’t think there is any risk of denial with the new company. It’s the same geographical area, same position and a very close salary. I guess I’m just being cautious because I have a lease here, etc. Although I have to say I like your style, I’m now leaning towards just going for it 🙂

    Thanks again for replying so quick!

    phb

  35. Hi,
    I am on a current E3 with one employer. What is the process to change to another employer under the E3? Do I need to get a new LCA, and go outside the country to interview at a consulate?
    Thanks,

  36. @Angie L

    Option 1) Apply for a new visa at a consulate outside the US, as you said.
    Option 2) Apply for change of status with the USCIS form I-129.

    Option 2 takes longer. It also doesn’t get you a visa, just a change in status. That means you’re fine to work for your new employer so long as you stay in the USA, however, the first time you travel outside the US after starting your new job, you will need to return via a consulate to get a new visa.

    For those reasons, most people seem to do Option 1. Option 2 seems good if you don’t want to, or can’t, leave the USA for some reason, and if you and your future employer are happy to wait ~2 months for it to process.

  37. I filed I-129 but have changed my mind and want to go get a new E-3 outside the country, because it’s faster.

    Am I likely to run into problems if I go to an E-3 visa interview while an I-129 is pending on the same LCA/company?

    Do I cancel the I-129 somehow? Any idea how long it takes to cancel?

    Thanks!
    phb

  38. Hi phb,
    If you leave the country while you have an open I-129 case it just becomes invalid. So you could contact the USCIS to cancel but otherwise you can just leave the country and do your E-3 visa application.
    Cj

  39. Hi CJ,

    I have one more question if you have time to answer I’d really appreciate it.

    An immigration lawyer told me it was OK to get I-129 change of employer approved *then* give 4 weeks notice to my current employer, but I’ve since found he’s been wrong on quite a few things and want to make sure.

    Can I keep working for my existing employer for a few weeks after I-129 is approved and then change over to the new employer after that? Is there any time limit on the changeover?

    I imagine everyone who has changed jobs like this has faced this situation but of all the first-hand experiences I’ve read no one has mentioned explicitly how they handled it.

    Any advice appreciated!
    phb

  40. Hi PHB,
    Once your I-129 is approved there will be a date on the I-797 approval notice they give you and that is officially when your visa ownership has been transferred to a new employer. Practically speaking if you worked for a current employer for a short period extra can’t see how that would be an issue b/c there is no checks on that anywhere but technically disagree with that lawyer. Because this case is more common with H-1B visa where due to the portability provision the rules are different it doesn’t come up very often b/c most ppl tend to leave the country and get a new E-3 visa when switching employers.
    Cj

  41. Hi CJ,

    I am 9 months into my 2 year E-3 Visa, and I was offered the opportunity to work for another company. Is it possible to work for two different employers simultaneously on the E-3. And if so, what is the recommended way of going through the process? Thanks!

  42. Hi CJ,
    I was on an E3 Visa and after being laid off I have applied for a transfer to the B2 Visa, so I didn’t have to leave the States. During the application time, I have been offered another job and need to apply for the E3 Visa again. I have not be approved for the B2 Visa as yet, so still in limbo, and wanted to find out if I can apply for an E3 Visa in Ottawa rather than having to go back to Australia? I have heard a few people have had problems and wasn’t sure that because I am in “limbo” I would have problems to. Additionally, if I am grated a B2 Visa before all of the E3 paper work has been confirmed, will I have similar problems in Canada too?

    Thanks in advance.
    NJ

  43. Hi Brent,
    There is no right answer to this but the most straight forward way for a lot of people seems to be leaving the country if you are changing employers and getting an entirely new E-3 Visa (i.e. repeating the process you originally went through). You can work simultaneously for multiple employers but you need an approved LCA for each subsequent employer from the Department of Labor and an approval from the USCIS.
    Cj

  44. Hi NJ,
    When you leave the US while an application is being processed by the USCIS (i.e. your B2 change of status), it immediately becomes void. So the simplest thing would be for you to leave the country and apply for your new E-3 visa. Generally people who had subsequent E-3 visas have not reported any issues in doing the process at a US Consulate in Canada.
    Cj

  45. Thanks CJ. You said Option 2) Apply for change of status with the USCIS form I-129.
    Does the employer only need to file a form I-129, OR does the new employer need to file LCA and I-129 to USCIS?
    Also, what is the cost for the employer/me to do this? Is it just the filing fee?

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