E3 Visa Process

We have so much on the E3 visa already at our main info page as well as our E3 Visa FAQ page which contains links to all major E3 visa resources on this site as well as some great tips and information.

So really this topic is already covered via the above resources but given the large amount of search volume from this query to our site more than anything else, along with many comments, we will do a brief post on the E3 visa process itself.

Step 1: Find an Employer willing to sponsor you
This is of course easier said than done but the crux of this is finding a US employer who is willing to hire you and thus sponsor your E3 Visa. The barrier to entry for this is at least less than the H-1B visa which has certain times of year associated to it, a very competitive fixed quota and large costs. However most employers will not hire someone without at least one face to face interview so there could be expense for you to achieve your goal. Note you can’t apply for your E3 visa as a new visa from within the US or transfer to it from the Visa Waiver Program. You can transfer to it from visa like the J1 Internship visa and F1 Student visa.

Step 2: Apply for Jobs At US Companies
I guess this is really interchangeable with Step 1 or indeed a subset of it. Given the important and uniqueness of this act I thought I would devote a paragraph to it. Of course for a foreigner on the other side of the earth to find a job in the US is some kind of effort and certainly requires some forward planning. Many people come to the US on the visas mentioned above like the J1 visa and F1 visa as a stepping stone to working in the US allowing them time to make contacts and attend interviews while under legal status. However many people do indeed do things like apply to jobs from Australia and then fly to the US and attend as many interviews as they can. Some good general tips are to have a US phone number on your application (i.e. via Skype), try and have a US mailing address if possible and mention visa status on their resume in explaining it to a potential employer. Of course from here the job interview and selection process is generally similar to what people may be used too but note that salary negotiations are a much bigger part of the US process and often begin right upfront. Finally ensure you understand the specialty occupation and bachelors degree provision.

Step 3: The Visa Application process
Once an employer has agreed to hire you and sponsor your E3 visa they need to file form ETA-9035(e) with the US Department of Labor. This is so they can received an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA). This is a free filing and can be done online. Essentially on this form includes details on the nature of the job, the nature of the company, a little on the candidate (i.e. you) and the salary. You should note that the salary has to meet the Department standard for the average salary for that type of role in that region of the country. You would take this document, along with an offer letter from the company to your US Consulate Interview for the E3 visa.

Step 4: The US Consulate Interview
From the link referenced above you can see a detailed account of the US Consulate interview for the E-3 visa. You can do this in other countries like Canada, UK, etc. but of course the most common tends to be at a Consulate in Australia. You should take as many supporting documents as possible including bank statements, asset ownership proof, copy of your degrees and any licenses that may be relevant to your role, etc. One of the things you need to demonstrate is the residence abroad condition. This is basically proof to the US that your ties to Australia are strong and that you intend to return home at the conclusion of your E3 visa period. The more prepared you are for this, the easier and quicker and less hassled it tends to be. You should note that you have to prepay the E3 Visa Application Fee at Australia Post prior to your interview.

So that in short is the E3 visa process but like I said read a lot of the other posts for in depth information and tips about particular aspects and how you can best navigate them.

Good Luck,
CJ

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99 thoughts on “E3 Visa Process

  1. Reed you have to apply for the E3 visa at a Consulate outside the US. Now while technically it is possible in Canada, there are reports from some that they are not processing first time E-3 visa applicants. Also the wait times at US Consulates in Canada to get an appointment tend to be longer than average. Best advice is to call the US consulate in advance.
    Cj

  2. Jacqui you need an approved LCA to take with you to your US Consulate interview for the E-3 visa. Your husband can only qualify for employment authorization once he has entered the US and approximate processing time is about 3 months.
    Cj

  3. Jack you can change status from E-3D to E-3 status within the US but it does take time to process. To get an actual E-3 visa stamp you need to do that at a US consulate outside the US. Technically you should be fine to do this in Canada although some are reporting that first time E-3 visa applicants are being discouraged from applying there. Best advice is to call the US consulate in advance.
    Cj

  4. Hi Cj,

    I have submitted my E3 visa application three times and been denied three times!!! The only problem is the prevailing wage. Do you know how to correct this? I am really frustrated and have to finalise my visa before my tourist visa expires in early august.

    Thank you Cj, look forward to your response.

    Tanti

  5. Hi Tanti,

    You have to use an official site like this http://icert.doleta.gov/ to check the relevant prevailing wage for your occupation and state and the wage you specify on your ETA-9035e application has to be at least at that level and reference it on the application.

    Also remember if you have a B1/B2 visa you can transfer to E-3 within the US but if you are on the Visa Waiver Program you have to do it outside the US.

    Cj

  6. Hi Tanti (and CJ),

    I competed the DOL form myself and I used this site to determine the prevailing wage: http://www.flcdatacenter.com/OESQuick.aspx

    Make sure that you use the same Occupation code and area (city/state) as noted on the completed DOL form. (I almost made a mistake on mine as there were two different prevailing wages depending on the county within the state.)

    My DOL form came back certified within 5 working days.

    Good luck!

  7. This is great info! Thanks for taking the time to answer.

    I am Canadian, and am currently on an OPT visa. Currently I found a job and my visa expires within a month, what is the quickest way to get an E3. Also should i even apply for an H1-B (I know I cannot apply until April 1st) is it worth it?

  8. Hi Lara,
    That is the site to use. The wage you earn and put on the form MUST be equal to or higher that what is nominated there. Minimum wages are not applicable for foreign workers for the professional working visas.
    Cj

  9. Hi Lee,
    If you are a Canadian citizen you are not eligible for the E-3 visa as it is only for Australian citizens. You are eligible for the TN visa as a Canadian. Yes for the H-1B visa you have to wait to April 1, 2013 and would only be able to work if approved from October 1, 2013.
    Cj

  10. Hey CJ, this site is genius!!

    Im trying to get all the prevailing wage info for my employer… If i am on level 3 mean Wage (H-2B):$18.43 hour – $38,334 year, which is my criteria in Denver, Colorado, am i able to exceed this figure in earnings if i am also on a commision??

  11. in addition i will b on an E3 visa… and lastly “the employer may file the USCIS Form I-129, the required filing fee, and other supporting documentation (including the approved LCA) to USCIS. Unless specifically exempt under the law, the employer must pay USCIS filing fees.” This does not include E3 correct??

  12. Hi Apo,
    Your wage has to be equal to or above the prevailing wage. So being higher is fine. If you are filing within the US (i.e. b/c you are changing to the E-3 visa from another non-immigrant US Visa that allows change i.e. F-1, J-1, B-2, etc. and not visa waiver), then yes you have to pay the filing fee for the I-129 to the USCIS.
    Cj

  13. I am an australian citizen and got an offer to work in the US for a call center company. Is it possible to fly to the states and apply working visa when I get to the states? The company is requiring me to work asap.

  14. Good day CJ,
    Hope you are well.
    Are you very familiar with Aussie Nurses qualifying for the E3 Visa.
    I passed my NCLEX RN already in the State of Texas.
    Have you heard of any Aussie nurses gaining an RN position that requires a Bachelors degree – and got an E3 Visa?
    I have been browsing the web it seems many RN position in the US only requires an Associates Degree
    Thanks Mate

  15. Hi, I have a question. To get an E3 does my employer need to file a eta form 9141 and then an eta 9035 upon receiving the prevailing age determination, or can they just file a eta 9035 stating OES data from flcdatacenter.com
    thank you!

  16. On the Canberra embassy E3 FAQs there is this note:

    “All visa applicants must appear at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad to apply, and first time E3 visa applicants will need to apply in Australia.”

    Is this correct? It seems that everything I’m reading says that you can apply at any consulate/embassy, regardless of it being your first time or not.

  17. Hi Thomas,
    This seems to have been something that has evolved but still people have different experiences. They certainly strongly recommend now your first E3 visa be done in Australia but certainly people are getting there’s approved all over the world.
    Cj

  18. This website is the most reliable source of information I have as I navigate the E3 visa process. I would greatly appreciate your input on the following:
    1) I have been offered a teaching position in the US. The salary is determined by the union. In filing the LCA, would it be correct to identify CBA (collective bargaining agreement) as the source of the prevailing wage?

    2) The LCA asks for the year the prevailing wage source was published. Would it be correct to write 2013, which is the term for the negotiated contract? If not, how
    should that be denoted?

    3) Lastly, my wage rate will be exactly the same as the prevailing wage since the wage is determined by a CBA? Will that be a problem since the requirements are for the prevailing wage to be higher?

    4) Do I need to complete an I 129?

    Thank you so very much!!! I have emailed the Information Center in Chicago and called every contact # I could find but no one answers or relied!!
    Noel

  19. Noel,
    The wage put on the ETA-9035e form to get your LCA has to be from an officially recognized source according to the Department of Labor. Now whether a collective bargaining agreement between a union and the administrative body counts for I don’t know for sure but it seems like it would. However it would seem strange to me that by the definition of what the prevailing wage is that the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center who would have a higher wage for your teaching role. You only have to do an I-129 if you are transferring to an E-3 visa from within the US from an applicable current non-immigrant visa status.
    Cj

  20. Thanks so much CJ. I think my prevailing wage is lower than what’s listed by the Foreign Labor Data Center because my salary I will be based on a 10 month contract (not a 12 month) and I would be paid hourly. If I calculate my salary based on a 12 months, it’s higher than the prevailing wage. My contract lists an hourly rate for me and it states a starting and ending date (which is the school year). Do I list my salary on the 9035e as an hourly rate OR an annual RATE. I read in the FAQ manual where the Question is “May an employer list the prevailing wage on the LCA in the form of an annual salary”, the Answer is: “the employer may list the prevailing wage on the LCA in the form in which the employer intends to pay the wage, except when the job is part-time, in which case the employer must list the prevailing wage as an hourly rate.” So should I list my salary as annual (40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year)?
    Again I appreciate your input.
    Noel

  21. Noel if your contract is for 10 months meaning that would be your visa length then yes all seems fine as your hourly rate can be put on the ETA-9035e application form and more than meets the criteria.
    Cj

  22. Thanks again CJ. So, I’ll list my hourly rate as the Wage Rate, indicate that my source for the prevailing as CBA and write the same exact amount for prevailing wage. I’ll write 2013 to indicate when wage source was published. Sound right? I’d love to indicate somewhere on there that i get full benefits and a pension but there’s not room for that.
    Your help had been invaluable!
    Sincerely, Noel

  23. Hi, I’m currently on a J1 visa in the US, and my employer would like to sponsor me to stay on with an E3. However, since my J1 expires in a month, I’m wondering whether it would be easier to file to change to an E3 before my J1 expires, or to wait until it expires, and then leave the US to apply for an E3. Any thoughts? I was just planning on heading to Canada to apply as I’m not sure I can afford the flight back home, however I’m a little worried about them not accepting first time applications there.

  24. Amy given you have only a month, there is almost no chance a transfer to E-3 visa would be processed by the time your J-1 visa expires. You could do the transfer within the US and remain in country while processing which usually takes about 3 months from beginning to end but you couldn’t work between the time your J-1 visa expires and the E-3 status is approved. Also you should check if the 2 year rule applies to you (https://visacoach.org/2009/12/23/j1-visa-2-year-residency-rule-waiver/) as that would be another consideration.
    Cj

  25. Thanks CJ. I’ve already confirmed I’m not subject to the 2 year home residency requirement on my program. So from what I can gather, it would be quicker for me to book an interview time for an E3 out of the country soon before my J1 expires, have my interview soon after it expires, then hopefully head back in? Thanks again!

  26. Am I able to complete the DS-160 before I complete the LCA, or will I need the LCA to complete it?

  27. Lara you can’t do your DS-160 until you have an approved LCA as you need to input the number on the online application you will receive once the LCA is approved.
    Cj

  28. Hi CJ, your website has been most helpful in my E3 visa application and I cannot thank you enough.

    I recently got my E3 visa approved and stamped on my passport, with the issue date set to 15 April 2014 (my visa interview date) and so it expires on 13 April 2016. However, the period of employment as specified on my LCA is 4 August 2014 to 4 August 2016. Does that mean I cannot use my E3 visa to enter the US until 10 days before 4 August 2014?

    Say I do want to enter the US a bit earlier than 10 days before 4 August 2014 to sort out accommodation and car, and I enter on the Visa Waiver Program, would I have to leave the North America region (Canada + US + Mexico) and come back 10 days before 4 August 2014 in order to ‘activate’ my E3 visa?

    Looking forward to your guidance.
    Kelvin

  29. Kelvin you have an interesting situation because usually the will put a start date of your visa close or at your LCA date. Its almost as if they made a mistake with both dates starting with A. The reality is you can enter the US based your visa stamp date so you could enter in April and you don’t have to do any re-entering.
    Cj

  30. Hi CJ,

    Thank you for such a great site.
    I am due to extend my E3 for the first time with the same employer through USCIS. My questions is, if i apply for extension from within the US and the USCIS processing time goes past the expiration of my visa and my 1-94, can I stay here until the process is complete? Or, if i have already submitted i-129 but taking too long, can I just leave the us during processing of the I-129 and just go to embassy outside of USA and just apply there before it expires? And if so, what happens to the application that’s processing with uscis?
    Lastly, if uscis approves the extension, do they give me a new 1-94 arrival departure card? Or how does that work if I leave USA after approval of i129 to go on a vacation? Do they just issue me a new one at border patrol upon presenting the approved i129?

    Please let me know as soon as you can..

    Thank you very much
    Tina

  31. Also, do I need to complete the ‘supplement form for free trade’ (page 10) that’s in the i129? Or do I just compete up to page 7
    Also do I need to complete any other form in addition to the I-129? I called uses and everyone tells me something different, I’m afraid of making a mistake. Even attorneys tell give me conflicting information.

    Thank you
    T

  32. Hi CJ,
    I just booked my consulate interview in Dublin for the 21st of may 2014. However I just realized my DS160 that I used to book it was originally submitted with the consulate being Ottawa, Canada however they had no interviews available for 156 days!!! So I scrambled around trying to find a city to do an interview ASAP as I’m on limited time here. Is this going to be a big deal? Do I have to so my dS160 application again with Dublin as the selected country? Cancel my interview and re book? I have a migraine just thinking about this. Please help me as son as you can as I have 6 days!!! Thank you SO much for your help!

  33. Tina if your I-129 is filed and the receipt date they issue you when they receive it is prior to your current E-3 visa or I-94 expiry date then you are fine to remain in the country until it has finished processing. It is best to do this in advance (2.5-3 months) because then you won’t have the issue of working past a visa expiry date without explicit approval. If you leave the US while an I-129 is processing then that automatically voids that application so you can do that if you can get a US Consulate interview. The USCIS would send you a new I-94 if approved with a new end date. To file the E-3 visa extension you would need the I-129, a new LCA, the company offer letter, recent pay stubs, passport photos, appropriate fees and any other related proof documents.
    Remember an extension of the E-3 is an extension of E-3 status not a new E-3 visa. So it allows you to continue working under same terms as before however if you subsequently leave the US on a trip or something and want to re-enter you would need an unexpired E-3 visa so would have to get a new E-3 visa at US Consulate anyway.
    Cj

  34. Ok thank you CJ!
    I figured that would be the case but I wanted to check and you’ve been wonderful with everyone else so I figured you’d have the right answers!
    Will it matter if I have 2 or 3 ds 160 applications submitted but using only one for dublin?

  35. Thank you so much for the information CJ.
    So do I still need to compete an I-539 for the extension of the i94 or is that not necessary because I have submitted the I-129? I read somewhere that the I-129 work extension has nothing to do with border patrol and the I-94, so although uscis may extend your work authorization, they do not extend your authorization to remain in the country. Is this accurate?
    also, if I do get a consulate interview to renew my visa,- prior to expiry, (I know the i129 may be void if I leave) is there any chance that they won’t approve the new visa application at a consulate?
    Another scenario- following uscis approval, when I apply for a new visa to re enter, again, is there any chance they will not approve it if I show a uscis approval of extension?

  36. Again,
    Thank you and I really appreciate your help again.
    The is just so much conflicting information online and attorneys also give you different information as does uscis when you call them.

    Thank you so much.
    T

  37. Tina just by having an open application with USCIS while in the country originally legally means you can remain until the conclusion of that application. They will issue you a new i-94 if approved. If you leave the US while this application is still pending that is fine and you can do a new visa application at a US Consulate, the open USCIS application will just no longer process since you left. There is always a chance a US Consulate may not issue a new visa even with prior USCIS extension approval and there is also a chance even if you have a valid visa US Customs at the border can deny you entry but both these instances are rare cases particularly with the E-3 visa.
    Cj

  38. Hi CJ,

    Ok, thank you that makes sense. I just had conflicting information on the I-94, however, I appreciate your response.

    Thank you again and have a great day.

    Tina

  39. Can commission, bonuses and/or benefits like health insurance be calculated towards prevailing wage? My company will pay full health and dental insurance. I will make monthly commission also. Bonuses may be received too. Thanks.

  40. Hi CJ, thanks for such a great site. My husband and I have both been granted E3 visas. We will be working within my brothers business and be paid on a commission based structure – therefore our salary is an estimate. Reading through the threads, it looks as though our salary needs to match ‘the prevailing wage’, which in our case, is less than what we listed. Is that correct? (ie need to match prevailing rather than listed wage?). What happens if we earn less than the prevailing wage? Many thanks.

  41. Hi CJ – your website is fantastic!
    I’m currently on a B1-B2 in the US which expires on Oct 3, 2014. I’m looking to secure employment on an E3 (this hasn’t been secured yet). Once I secure employment, would you suggest:

    1. Calling the nearest US consulate to see if they take first time E3 applicants.

    2. If the nearest US consulate doesn’t take E3 applicants, call the next nearest until eventually I will have to fly home to Australia to apply?

    If a potential employer asks me how long this process takes, what would be a good rough answer for that question?

    Are there any suggestions you can think of given the time pressures of my current B1-B2 visa expiry date?

  42. Hi CJ,

    I am extremely confused. I am currently on an E3 visa and am moving to a different state so need to switch employers. I have read so much conflicting info online. I understand that I need to complete another LCA form, and then an I-129. At which point am I able to commence work for my new employer? Also, am I able to hop over to Canada to complete the I-129 there and then and avoid processing times?

    Your help is MUCH appreciated!!!

    Thanks,

    Lizzie

  43. Hi CJ!

    Not sure if you respond to the comments here anymore but thought I’d try my luck!

    I have recently got a job offer form the US – everything has been filed etc, lawyers handling my case so going smoothly, and my interview is on March 30th 2015.

    I do not have a bachelors Degree so I got my experience evaluated by the US which came back successful.

    My query was – in the above case, do they still scrutinise you if you have already got an evaluation back proving that it qualifies 12 years of a degree? And if so has it been proven extra difficult to receive the visa on the spot?

    Thanks for your time in advance!!

    Cheers,

    P

  44. Hi, I just got offered a job with a company however they have never filed an E3 visa under the business name, is there anything that needs to be done prior to filing the LCA form?

    Also, I would like to try do the visa myself without a lawyer is there a page that shows me step by step what to do? I don’t want any delays. I am currently on the E3 with another company so I am aware of some of the details however last time I did it through a lawyer!

    Thanks CJ

  45. Hi,

    I currently hold a J1 Visa, that was extended thru to October 8th 2015 due to academic training. I am currently starting the application process for change of status to an E3 Visa. Can you tell me:

    – Do I need to leave the USA to go through the whole application process OR is it only when I return to Australia in say June 2016 – that before I enter the USA again, I must go to the US Consulate in Australia to have my passport stamped etc to re-enter the USA.

    I’m finding this process a little confusing and most instructions or ‘to-do lists’ I find are for those who are applying for the E3 Visa and NOT a Change of Status.

    Any help or direction to other information would be greatly appreciated.

    Meghan

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