E-3 Visa – How Long Does The Process Take?

It may be the most common question we get asked here in terms of how long does the E-3 visa process take from beginning to end and then how long do renewals and transfers of employers take. The E-3 visa has many differences to the H-1B visa in this regard, and thus there are parts that are quicker (i.e. when it comes to company getting approval for you to then apply for your visa) and then there are parts that are slower (i.e. when it comes to transferring employers b/c of the explicit lack of the portability provision).

Additionally the method by which you originally came to the US such as the Visa Waiver Program with an ESTA, the B-1 Visa or currently in the US in another capacity on the F-1 Visa for studentsOPT statusJ-1 Visa for interns, H-1B visa or some other US visa you have the possibility to go the E-3 Visa subsequently

Below we will look at the average timeline of events that you could take into account when the E-3 visa is your route to working in the US;

1. Searching for a Job (unknown but in most cases allowing yourself 3 months would be seen as prudent)

2. Job Offer & Negotiation (you might agree to be hired but to negotiate on salary + bonus, equity if any, severance and any other terms you might see as important  might take 1 week to finalize)

3. Filing ETA-9035(e) with Department of Labor (Once the document is filed electronically it takes about 7-10 days to get approval however any requests for more information can delay that and if your company is a first timer at doing it and/or slow moving legal counsel is involved this process from beginning to end can take around 3-4 weeks)

Filing I-129 with USCIS ** Optional (This is only a mandatory step when renewing an E-3 visa within the US, transferring to another employer or transfering to the E-3 visa from another US visa or status within the US.  If you are doing this with normal processing periods and assuming you have no additional requests for information the approval and resulting I-797 will come in 2-3 months. The preparing of this package and getting all the checks signed to file can take some time if done by lawyers and employers and that might add an additional 1-3 weeks before the package is even sent)

5. Applying for E-3 visa at a US Consulate (Depending on which consulate you apply at it can take be immediate up to 2 months to schedule an interview date so important to plan ahead and be aware of where you are applying and the appropriate wait times. After applying assuming you don’t go through Administrative Processing, you will usually receive your passport with visa stamp 2-3 days after your interview)

6. Commencing Work (If you are on a new E-3 visa you can commence work at any time of the year however you can’t enter the US on your E-3 visa more than 10 days prior to your employment period commencing. If you are already in the US under a legal status this does not apply.)


18 thoughts on “E-3 Visa – How Long Does The Process Take?

  1. Loving the posts here – very helpful!

    Do you have to return to AUS for the application at the Sydney US Consulate? I’m sure I read that somewhere – but above you’ve said any consulate. It sure would save some money if you could apply in the US or even Canada instead of a last minute return flight to Sydney!

    Keep up the posts


  2. Ryan if it is your first E-3 Visa, the US Consular advice strongly recommends doing it in Australia in either Perth, Melbourne or Sydney depending on your US Consular district. You can do it within the US if you are on another eligible non-immigrant visa (like B-1, J-1, F-1, etc. but NOT on visa waiver ESTA status) that can then transfer to an E-3 visa but that requires a fee filing and form I-129 to USCIS and approximately 3-4 month application approval period. In theory and in practice you could do a new E-3 visa application at any US Consulate in the world but we have heard both anecdotal evidence and some notifications of the US Consulates in Canada rejecting first time E-3 visa applicants. However some have done it successfully in Canada as well as nearby consulates in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and the UK. Ultimately you can call a US consulate ahead of time to check but there is never any guarantees with anything in US Immigration.

  3. Hi Cj,

    Thank you for the posts!

    I’m a little confused with the filing process. I’m currently on my OPT (F-1 student visa) and I want to transfer to an E-3 visa. Is it possible to do all this without leaving the States or do I have to apply at a U.S. consulate after filing for an I-129? Thanks.



  4. Steve you can transfer within the US to an E-3 visa from an F-1 Visa on OPT via the I-129 form after you have your approved LCA.

  5. Hi, very informative post but I do have a question I hope you can clarify for me. I am currently in Australia but have a Incorporation registered in California being managed by US partners. I need to be in the US contributing to this venture for longer than the 3 months allowed on the visa waiver scheme. I have not gained any finance through this venture but need to work to bring this to market in the US with my partners. What is the best way, what visa do I need. The E3 looks to be the best as I need to work to support myself through this process
    Look forward to hearing from you

  6. Robert you need an approved LCA from the US Department of Labor. A part of that process is the prevailing wage which specifies the salary you are paid which must meet certain criteria such as be equivalent to the average level a US worker is paid for the same job in the same location. Occasionally for newer companies with limited tax history who are also first time sponsors some additional financial information on the company itself is required. As long as both of these pass then your company could potentially sponsor you for the E-3 visa.

  7. Very informative!
    Is it possible to move from an L1 visa (inter company transfer) to an E3 visa after holding an L1 visa for 6 years?

  8. Hi CJ,
    Great site — really helpful advice. I am about to move to the US on a student (F1) visa (to do a masters degree) but will be applying for full-time work at the same time as studying with a view to applying for an E3 visa. Assuming I get offered a job that meets the E3 visa requirements, how long will I need to be out of the country to get my E3 visa processed? Is it as easy as popping over the border to Canada or Mexico for a few days or does the process take longer than that? I don’t want to miss too many classes!

  9. HI CJ,

    great website for all E3 related visa info stuff. i have some question regarding E3 visa.

    I am currently with company A on L1B visa. I have a job offer from company B. the company B has now applied for E3 visa (actually have been waiting for my visa for more then 2 months now).

    my questions are:

    1. Once i get my E3 visa approval, how long do I have to change my job to new employer B? i read somewhere its 10 days. can it be more then that as i want to give 2 weeks notice to my existing employer A.

    2. once i get my E3 visa approval, what if my existing company A offers me a better package. what option do i have to stay with my existing company A?

    3. what if my new E3 visa gets rejected for any reason, my previous L1 is invalid? can i continue working with my company A?

    Thanks in advance.

  10. Hi,

    Very informative site 🙂
    I am currently in the U.S on a live and work J1 visa, basically the one where you can ‘experience the U.S’ for a year best tertiary study. I am pretty close to getting a permanent job in my field (I’m currently working in hospitality for some cash). I am wondering what my process time will look like from actual job offer and filing of ETA-9035 to actually starting work with my E3. I would look to fly home to Australia to get my E3 sorted at the Embassy in Sydney.
    Any info would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

  11. Hi, How do i go about obtaining a job for an E3 Visa? Are there any companies who can asssit in getting me a job offer? or Do i need to travel to US first, obtain a posiiton and then apply for E3? I do not really want to do it as I have a full time role in Australia already and would like to travel to US with a Job Offer. Is this possible?

  12. Hi there – how stringently has CBP been enforcing the 10 day rule (i.e. cannot enter the US earlier than 10 days before employment start date)? I’m reading on other forums that people have arrived earlier and it’s not really enforced. I’m assuming this is completely on a case by case basis and some may be lucky. Any insight? Is anyone aware of anyone being turned back at the border?


  13. Hi,

    My fiancee(E3 VISA) who is working(contract basis) in USA visa expires on Feb23,2016 whose has to attened for our marriage on Jan 1st ,but it got stuck in Administrative process.

    He is saying he cant come for the marriage as he cant leave the country,his job also might go and they can file complaint against me.if he comes he can never go back to USA.He is not calling and explain what happened.can we believe him,and how much time it will take.

  14. Hi

    I am currently on an F2 visa in the U.S and recently received a job offer and would like to convert to an E-3 Visa. From looking at the USCIS website and this website, I am not clear whether “Step 4 Filing I-129 with USCIS” is optional as this website says. Can you please clarify whether it is optional if I plan to obtain the E-3 visa abroad at a U.S Consulate? I was surprised to read it takes 2-3 months to get the I-797 approval form when E-3 visa is supposed to be ‘quick’?

  15. Hi
    I am looking to transfer my E3 visa from one employer to another. So once the LCA is approve, can I start working for a new company and don’t wait for the I-129 approval to arrive (as I will be staying in US)?? Or do I have to go to Australia for getting the new Visa stamp at US consulate and then start working for new employer?

  16. Hi I am presently in India and I am an Australian passport Holder.
    My Present working company wants to apply for E3 visa to support in US counterparts.
    Is possible to apply E3 visa From India? Can I attend the E3 Visa interview in India?

  17. Hello Everyone!!

    This is Prasan from Solution IT, we are looking for IT consultants who are eligible for E3 VISA (AUS Citizens). We will sponsor E3 for consultants in Australia or transfer VISA if anyone looking for a transfer and currently in USA. Please contact me for more details.


  18. Hi Prasan,

    I’m looking at E3 VISA applications and wanting to know more about what is on offer. I am an IT Professional with 20years experience. Please contact me shant.Mejloumian@bigpond.com or 0404889575.
    I realise your post was some 6 months ago however would be good to catch-up.

    Many thanks

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