I wrote earlier in February about this very issue and the main ideas I had to help you find new employment so the posts I recommend reading are;
– Laid Off on an E-3 or H-1B Visa where I talk about the situation and idea where you can get your current employer to help and also an option in Canada
– Extending, Renewing or Changing Employers on your E-3 Visa this is also helpul to H-1B holders or applicants as the process is very similar
– Information about the Top 100 Companies that sponsored H-1B visas last year where we discuss how this may help you and the genesis of the list which we made FREE for you
– The Top 200 List of US Visa Employers Last Year is a raw list of the companies that is beneficial to E-3 visa applicants as much as H-1B and even J-1.
Now I have received a lot of emails in recent times about;
How long people have?
How can they extend their time to look for a job?
Is the transfer process easy and not too costly?
Can you transfer to B1/B2 status to allow you more time to find a position?
Do I have access to any unemployment benefits since I pay Social Security/Payroll/FICA Taxes?
Can I work while the transfer process is underway?
I will try and document the answers to these questions briefly on one page, although a lot of these answers are in more detail elsewhere in the blog in other posts and you can go the All Posts List which documents all entries and visa information by title.
1. How long do I have?
Technically you only have 10 days to find a new employer once your current employer notifies USCIS of your termination date. We explain in the above post more fully how you can ask you employer to delay this notification to give you more time.
NB: Over time through guidance and enforcement changes, and post the financial crisis, the e-3 visa rules continued to more resemble the h-1b visa rules. So the 10 days have become more like 60 days. However always be cautious as you never know what might be enforced especially in the post 2016-era of US immigration.
2. How can you extend your time to find a job?
Will this really follows on from question 1, so the delay in notification is one option. Leaving and re-entering the US on the visa-waiver program is another option. Transferring to a B1/B2 visa or even another category (although you have to meet their individual requirements) can also potentially extend your time.
3. Is the transfer process easy and not too costly?
It certainly could be easier, I mention in the above linked post the entire process and forms involved. Eassentially it involves getting a new LCA form and a filing form for transfer of employer to USCIS which I think costs around $300 although this constantly changes. It can be relatively straightforward in what you do but it can be a long process.
Of course if travel is involed if you plan to get a new visa outside the country this of course will amplify costs.
4. Can you transfer to B1/B2 status to allow you more time to find an employer?
You certainly can trasnfer to B1/B2 if you do this application to USCIS. Visapro states USCIS officers have been allowed to exercise their discretion to grant you another nonimmigrant status, if you apply for change of status within 10 days after you are laid off.
5. Do you have access to any unemployment benefits as you pay Social Security taxes?
No you don’t in any shape or form if you are on any non-immigrant visa. Yes this is completely unfair given you are forced to pay these taxes just like a US worker but you have no claim to any benefits.
6. Can I work while the transfer process is underway?
For H-1B visa holders you can given the application has been filed and you have your approved LCA from the Department of Labor. However your transfer application could still be denied potentially by the USCIS.
For E-3 visa holders the answer is a little more strange as it is largely undocumented. So some USCIS officers will say the rules are the same as H-1B as they are for most other things when not fully documented as seems to be the general direction of the visa. However other officers say this is not the case and you have to wait for your transfer. This combined with the transfer visa application cost has caused many of E-3 to just go to Canada and apply for a new visa with their new employer instead.
Good luck if this is your predicament…I wish you all the best 🙂
**look I should say again I am not a lawyer but I answer these questions to the best of my ability having gone through the visa process many times and having shared experiences with many others so I want to save you guys as much money as I can with potential legal costs. Some of the policies change a lot and I try to keep us as much as I can but I do miss a few changes.