E3 Visa Bachelors Degree Proof If You Have No Degree

In the last few months we are getting so many questions about this and almost all of them are very similar with just slight variations. So just to be completely clear again we will spell out a few facts and major points of note based on own research and listening to hundreds of people’s experiences over the past 3 years of this site. Many of these experiences you can read across this site along with additional information particularly on our prior posts about;

E3 Visa General Information
E3 Visa US Consulate Interview
E3 Visa Bachelors Degree and Specialty Occupation conditions explained
Extending, Renewing or Changing Employers on the E3 Visa

Now here are the major points of note that apply to ALL cases. Just because your case varies slightly from this does NOT mean the US Consulate assessing your case are going to give you any special treatment as they assess hundreds of cases daily and are often making snap decisions so is best to be well prepared.

– The Bachelors Degree requirement is specifically for the position you are applying for that as advertised or if not advertised for in the normal course of events would have a bachelors degree as a minimum required criteria
– If you do not have a bachelors degree as a minimum, then you have to prove that any post high school education experience you have (completed or not) combined with your relevant years of professional experience in the area of the specific role you are applying for at least at minimum equals the level of a US Bachelors degree
– While not a stated policy anywhere, given the length of a standard US Bachelors Degree is 4 years, 3 years of relevant professional experience would equal one year of a degree. So that would mean as a rule of thumb, 12 years of relevant professional experience would equal a US bachelors degree (relevance is important as if you are applying for a investment finance job, experience working on a hotel front desk is not going to matter)

– Even though many Australian undergraduate University degrees are 3 years, the US would consider that equivalent to as US Bachelors degree
– Getting your experience and/or partial education accredited by a US company or institution as to its equivalency to a US Bachelors Degree will certainly help (possibly a fair bit) but is by no means a guarantee as to whether you will be approved
– Each case is at the total and ultimate discretion of the US consulate around the world to which you are applying and more particularly to the specific case officer in your case. That Consulate and case officer is under no obligation to provide you full reasoning behind their decision making and you have no right of appeal. You can only try again fully to apply for a new e3 visa application with new information if you have it

– Given that and the lack of clear stated black and white guidelines, you may be denied on technicalities and depending on where you apply you might be denied with a similar case and background to somebody else. This is obviously not fair but is the current system
– If you get denied, that does not preclude from applying again for a future US visa nor does it necessarily count against you. However it is always on your permanent record and you may get asked about it a future US Consulate interview. Given a US Consulate is “never wrong”, you would be well advised to not answer disparaging a previous consular official or consulate in a subsequent consulate interview if asked about a previous denial
– The more specialized your occupation you are applying for, the potential for them to be more relaxed about your level of experience/education. Again this is all completely arbitrary but if you are applying for a highly specialized bio-tech or nuclear role then your chances of being approved on relevant experience alone is probably higher than a generic business role

– In terms of supporting documents apart from getting a degree equivalency done, you could bring references on official letterheads, official HR documents explaining tenure, time at the company, job title and duties of the role you had, tax returns/financials/official company docs if it was your own company, awards and other certificates, diplomas and anything highlighting the level of your experience and education that could be provable if the US consular official so desired by calling somebody or looking up databases online. (it is certainly not advisable to fudge things hear b/c once you lose credibility with the Consulate, it would be hard to regain it). There is no official list of documents, but the more proof the better
– If you are applying for an occupation that you are not sure whether it is a specialty, bring copies of your Bachelors Degrees as well as information about the company, the position and duties as well as copies of where the job was advertised showing the bachelors degree minimum criteria all helps
– With professions where you need US licensing to actually do the job it is a little grey as to whether you can undertake this after you arrive and once you have started work but where possible getting this in advance is helpful and/or having your employer clearly state a plan of action around this when you arrive (NB: most licensing is state based in the US so you would need it from the State where you are working)

In recent times we have been hearing anecdotal experiences from some people, that Canadian based US Consulates are not even processing first time new E3 visa cases brought before them but only renewals of subsequent E3 visas whether the same or a different company. This is NOT a stated policy anywhere and the US Consulates in Canada all allow you to book online a new E3 visa appointment. However given the wait times for interviews for the US Consulates in Canada and the expense of traveling and staying somewhere, it is important to share this type of information that some people seem to be having at face value.

There may be underlying reasons whether pertinent to their specific case and/or due to the case load at a particular Consulate as to why this may be happening but given we don’t know, it is important to be wary. Whether some US Consulate locations are more favorable and easier then others is really unknown and can really only be gleaned from people’s experiences.

Ultimately with all of this it is very arbitrary and may seem unfair. However that is the US Immigration system and you just have to as best you can navigate through the misinformation and lack of clear public guidelines. We encourage you all to share you own experiences here and be as detailed as possible as to your background, your position and which US Consulate you applied so you can all learn from each other as that is definitely the best way to determine success.

Good Luck,

22 thoughts on “E3 Visa Bachelors Degree Proof If You Have No Degree

  1. Great blog! Very helpful.

    I have a J1 visa and am in the process of transferring to an e3 visa. The thing is, I left Australia prior to my graduation ceremony and therefore have not got my certificate with me in the US. It will be mailed to my home address in Australia eventually – but I was wondering if they will accept anything else as proof of the completion of my degree.

    Please advise.

  2. Jani a copy of the degree certificate itself is the best thing you could provide in an Interview.

  3. How would I go about getting my degree & work experience made out to be equivalent to a Bachelors Degree? I have an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design & 5 years work experience – do you think this could potentially be equivalent to the necessary Bachelors Degree required for an E-3 Visa.

  4. Ashton there is organizations in the US who can certify equivalency of qualifications to a US Bachelor’s Degree for varying fees that you can search for on Google. Likely your qualifications would fall short even if you could obviously do the job in question. In any case I would first suggest securing the job offer before dealing with costs and admin of degree equivalency. If a US employer is willing to hire you and pay you appropriately for a position where a Bachelor’s Degree is prescribed as a minimum they will probably be willing to the necessary supporting work to ensure your application has the best chance of approval.

  5. Hi CJ,

    Please help.

    I am a 28 year old hospitality professional with 9 years management experience. I do not have a degree or high education. Although, I have an impressive resume with testimonials and achievements, do you think this will be enough to qualify for the ‘equivalent experience’ exception? Please note that i have travelled to the US on a J1 visa and worked for a premium casino and then had to return to my home country (Australia) for 2 years, as per visa requirements.

    I feel if I was a little older, I would have 12 years work experience but that is simply not the case. I understand the value America places on higher education however, I was unable to attend university and had to financially support myself.

    I am confident upon my return to America for holiday on the waiver program, that i will be able to secure a letter of offer for employment in a managerial position.

    Keen to know your thoughts on this, i am prepared to do whatever it takes, including starting a university diploma/degree.

  6. Chantel there is little I can tell you that actually don’t already know. Your situation falls into a very grey area where in most cases I have heard it is very difficult b/c of what the original intention, conditions and the way that US Consulates seem to be interpreting the E-3 visa. That said you have been approved for a J-1 visa which has a lower standard barrier but you do you have some US experience and followed the rules of that visa. The best thing I would say is get your actual work experience quantified by a standard assessment group into a diploma or something official and then bring as many proof documents as you can including US ones if you manage to get a company willing to sponsor you on the E-3 visa. The 12 year work experience equivalency is not some written criteria but anyone without a degree will have both their background and the nature of the job and salary scrutinized heavily so you have to be prepared.

  7. Hi Cj,

    Thank you for all the helpful information on the website. Just in terms of job relevant to the degree; I have a sponsor who owns car lot in California and requires help for Sales and Marketing manager role to grow his business and go into online marketing. I have degree in Mechanical engineering but 10 years experience doing sales, marketing and business development for different technologies but nothing to do with cars. Would this be considered as a good reason to sponsor? The pay can be as per the LCA requirement for engineer role with experience.


  8. As a nanny/Governess in Australia for over 10 years and also a childcare worker for 12 years (full and part-time), I don’t have a bachelor degree ( I have a diploma) but am wondering if I am eligible for an E3 with the experience I’ve had in both fields. Would I be able to apply?

  9. My daughter has her diploma in dance (elite.performance) currently in canada on a study work visa with a junior ballet company.
    She wants to dance in america and has had interest in a few companies however not having a visa is a problem. She is toying as to whether to continue to study on a f1 or try and get a trainee j1. Do you think she would
    be eligible for an e3. Thanks

  10. I am also desperate to find out if my daughter would qualify for an E3 visa to work in a ballet company in the USA. Some companies are interested in employing her but we are worried about the visa situation. My daughter has an advanced diploma of dance, and a graduate diploma of classical ballet from the Australian Ballet School (our highest possible ballet credential) and she is currently working in a smaller Australian ballet company. She has also won two major national ballet awards. Will this be enough for an E3? Considering ballet companies do not require a degree, but they prefer graduates from recognised national ballet schools (which she is) and who have professional experience in ballet companies (which she has). It’s an unusual occupation, so I wonder if they make exceptions for unusual occupations. Ballet requires very specific training with a different set of requirements. Does immigration take these things into account?

  11. Hey,

    Thanks for all your info, you seem to explain things in a way that even I can understand which is great.

    I started my uni course for a diploma and completed 1.5 years but didn’t finish the course as I went straight into the job in the same field and have now been working for 6.5 years in that field, I have just been offered a job in the US in the same field and I have no idea what visa to go on, I heard about the E3 but I don’t have a degree even though the job I received doesn’t require me to have one. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks heaps

  12. The job I have been offered had their minimum requirement as a bachelor and have now changed it to G.E.D. Im worried this is going to cause me problems when applying for the visa. What documentation will I need to prove that the job requires my degree?

  13. I received a job offer from a church in the united states.
    I have 2 Diplomas relevant to the field and 6 years work work experience. what are my chances?

  14. I have a New Zealand passport and wanting to move over and live to the US. I have my own business in the tech field and energy field but need to know what options I have for visa entry. Is the Start up Visa a viable option for entrepreneurs

    Also I have huge industry experience but not the degree and associate degree required for most visas. Im also aware New Zealand is not one of the countries on the treaty

  15. I have an Australian 3 years bachelors degree. I filed my academic assessment but they said they cannot certify my degree because the US degree equivalent requires 4 years of study. Will this result in a disapproval or are they not usually strict about it?

  16. Hello,

    I am currently in the U.S on a J1 student working visa. I am looking to change over to the E3 i am certain i have to fly home after the J1 is up any way. I didn’t go to university or college i completed and hold a Electricians certification, i also have several years in the field with 4 years schooling and have had my own business for 2 years now. I have done a little research its a little grey as to know if a certification equals to a diploma. Will all of this be enough to push me over the line?

  17. Hi all- I currently have about 5 years specific experience to a certain job and then a further 5 years broader experience. I work in HR so I guess you could describe my 5 earlier years as generalist before I moved into a specific area of specialty (diversity and inclusions). I am also due to finish my degree in November (I have 5 subjects left to complete).

    Do you think I would have huge issues in obtaining the E3? There is a role I am in the mix in at the moment so want to understand if it will be a big waste of time. The actual job has only specific work experience (which I have) listed as a minimum requirement and the preferred requirements list a bachelors degree (which I almost have).

    Thoughts? Thanks in advance

  18. Hello,

    I have completed my degree (4 years tertiary education resulting in a Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Bachelors degree) and my results have been submitted, however I’m being told I won’t be certified for graduation until December even though the grades are in and transcript shows I have passed the requirements for graduation. Would this transcript be enough? On top of this completed four years study, I have letters from employers from five years of professional work in my field. With the transcript with completed results, but with ‘graduation status pending’ do you think this would be fine? I have completed the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree just without the actual document in hand. I’d imagine it would be pretty rough to deny this application due to a waiting period.

    I have been offered a job that requires a bachelor’s degree and they are understanding of my situation. They will be submitting the LCA this week but I’m just looking for some peace of mind.


  19. Hi Cj, This info cleared up so many of my questions. However I am 21 years old, I do not have a bachelor, I have a diploma and 5 years experience. I have had job offers in USA but I didnt know how I could accept them. Do you think they will approve an E3 application with a job offer on official letterhead from the company?

  20. We just had an employee declined renewal. She did not finalize her marketing degree, but she went to school for 2 years. She also had 12 years relevant experience. We hired her as a marketing manager. While she’s been here, she nearly took over marketing. She has earned two raises and we have given her equity. She went back for renewal and was declined. Our team is distraught. No way we can replace her. She manages our facebook relationships, she is a speaker who travel to trade shows, she handles all of our Demand Gen Social Media and PPC. They marked her as ineligible because of the degree. But they said nothing about this two years ago. It is awful. Her daughter goes to school here. We didn’t see this coming.

  21. Hi

    I was hoping you could give me a better idea of whether I would Qualify for the E3 Visa.
    I am a pilot and meet all the requirements to secure a job in the States and would highly likely be offered a position if I meet the E3 Requirements. I don’t hold a degree however I have 2 diplomas in aviation, all the licences required, and 3 years professional experience and a further 2 years holding a licence.

    Thanks for your time!

  22. Hello,

    i am wanting to apply for E3 visa. I do not have a degree. But i have 12 years of experience and a certificate in landscape construction.
    do you think this will be enough if i have a job offer for a management role?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.