Tag Archives: e3 visa

H-1B & E-3 Visa Holders Applying at US Consulates in Canada

In the last 12 months we have been inundated with questions from rightly apprehensive foreigners who seemingly have secured their dream to live and work in the US only to be faced with a new sense of fear, actually getting the US work visa itself.

If you are in the US as either legally as a tourist or another visa like the F-1 student visa, that would be the logical time to apply to US employers, attend interviews and hopefully secure a position. However because of the absurdity of the US Immigration system, this means you either initially have to leave the US to get a visa stamp in your passport at a US Consulate before you can start working for your new US employer. Alternatively in certain cases if you are transferring from an unexpired non-immigrant visa or status at the time of application (so not tourist visa waiver ESTA) you can potentially start employment, however as soon as you travel outside the US for work or pleasure you have to attend a US Consulate as well for an interview to get a visa stamp.

The reason why the situations above are absurd is because in any prior non-immigrant visa case the person would have already attended a US Consulate to get their initial US visa. So they largely go through the same process again just this time with the assessment of the US employer and job. Given that the US employer and job have already been assessed as part of the process by the Department of Labor in all cases and by the USCIS (United States Custom & Immigration Service) as well in all work visa transfer cases and any H-1B visa case, it is just redundant waste and further cost to foreigners, US employers and ultimately the US economy as a whole.

This whole process can take weeks and sometimes many months and cost thousands of dollars in application fees, legal fees, travel costs and that doesn’t factor in lost earning to the employee or the business. Given the H-1B visa period always commences on or after October 1 in any given year this tends to produce high demand for interview slots between May and October each year when the application begin to be approved after the annual April 1 filing opening.

In the case of E-3 visas where the application season is year round and the demand is nowhere near as high the same issues that arise for the H-1B work visa applicants and their employers also apply. However additional “guidelines” around which US Consulates are applicable depending on whether its a new visa (E-3 visa) or renewal version of the visa (E-3R) add further confusion.


The above guideline posted on the US Embassy official website for Australia causes more angst than any other for people who have actually secured an E-3 visa. Given the cost for a round trip to Australia at the best of times might be around $2,000 when booked in advance, it is not a cheap option to go back just to get a visa. Often as well getting an appointment may take many weeks at one of the 3 Australian located US Consulates in Perth, Sydney or Melbourne.

Often people would love to go to Canada and namely a place like Toronto. Below is a further cause of angst on the official US Consulate website for Toronto regarding the E-3 visa.

Q. I am an Australian citizen applying for an E3 visa. What do I need to do?

A. Applicants for E-3 visas are seen in Toronto in the same manner as all other non E-visa applicants, by appointment made online at http://canada.usvisa-info.com/ or by calling 647-955-3736(calling from Toronto area), 1-877-341-2441 (calling from elsewhere in Canada or from the U.S). Information about E-3 visas is available at U.S. Embassy in Canberra. Appointments are booked many weeks in advance. There is no special consideration given to E-3 visa applicants.

We urge all visa applicants who are not landed immigrants or long-term residents of Canada to apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Applicants who come to Toronto from the U.S., having entered the U.S. as a visitor, are likely to be found ineligible here and unable to return to the U.S. even as a visitor.

The above statement contradicts itself by saying it will process E-3 visas as normal in the first paragraph and then warning against doing it in the second paragraph unless long term residents of Canada (or potentially non-immigrant visa holders in the US as opposed to just tourists). It should be noted none of the above two US Consulate guidelines are given for H-1B visa applicants.

The bottom line is we have got a lot of feedback on this from people over the years who have actually gone through the first time visa process and the visa renewals, talked to the largely unhelpful customer service at the USCIS, Department of State and US Consulates themselves as well a lot of first hand knowledge. These are the best guidelines we can give (I stress these are definitely guidelines because there are no facts around this and people have had conflicting experiences and it seems like facts change a lot)

  • First time and renewal H-1B visa holders can apply at any US Consulate around the world. If you are a first time H-1B visa applicant with a foreign degree to the US or the country you are applying within, then would highly recommend getting your degrees assessed as equivalent to a US degree by an organization (many Universities or affiliated organizations do this service for a fee and many US employers who employ legal counsel do this as part of the process)
  • First time E-3 visa holders who have never held a US non-immigrant visa like F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc. are only in the US on the ESTA visa waiver, I would highly recommend doing your application in Australia or at the very least not in Canada.
  • First time E-3 visa holders if you came on the non-immigrant B-1/B-2 visa but as a tourist, I would highly recommend the above as well
  • If you are a first time E-3 visa holder and have been on a non-immigrant visa, I would ideally avoid Canada and use Mexico, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic or UK if you want somewhere closer. However if you are going to do Canada maybe avoid Toronto (& Montreal) and do it in Vancouver or Halifax
  • Renewal E-3 visa cases seem to be fine at any US Consulate including Canadian ones

E3 Visa Top Employers & Salaries of Australians Working in the US

A few years ago we published a list of the top employers specifically for the E-3 visa and at the time it was the first and as far as I can still only list of US employers who specifically employ Australians under the E-3 visa. Last we looked at the major statistics of E-3 Visa Applications and today we are going to present an updated list of employers along with some new information including average salaries, top jobs that are sponsored as well top locations that Australians work in the US under this work visa.

If you are a regular reader you will know that we have done similar lists for the H-1B work visa which is open to all nationalities and given the data is far more vast because of the volume (approx 16x more issued annually) there is more reason to update that regularly. However the E-3 visa may be the single biggest reason people come to The Visa Coach given there are very few resources online and almost none of these are good except for a couple of personal experience blogs.

Figure 1: Top 30 E3 Visa Employers

What is interesting about the above Top 30 US employers of Australians is that they only represent 13% of all the employees. In other words there is a long tail of employers that have sponsored Australians over the last 12 months, most of which just sponsored 1 person. To be exact there were 3,285 different US employers that sponsored Australians over the last year.

In the above list you can obviously see a lot famous tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple & Facebook along with some of the major consulting and finance brands like PWC, EY, Deloitte and Goldman Sachs. There are also a couple of well known brands to Australians like Westfield and Macquarie.  In general there is a good portion of the same brands that were on the 2009 list with Microsoft still on top. However there are certainly far more technology brands in the top section than on the employer list from 5 years ago.

Figure 2: Top E3 Visa Denied Application EmployersE3VisaDenialEmployers

This is a new list and largely done as a point of warning about the US Immigration system, the application process and the potential for wasted time and money, corruption and unscrupulous players. This isn’t any commentary on any of the above organizations as I know almost none of them other than Morgan Stanley who is also a Top 30 employer and one other. However these were the top employers who had their visa applications denied for the LCA for the E-3 visa over the past 12 months and you should be wary about anyone asking for money from you in advance to help you secure sponsorship and a US work visa.

Figure 3: Top Locations for Australians to Work in US

This list is probably largely no surprise to anyone based on general desires of place to live as well the population and nature of industries and companies that Australian professionals are working for in the US. In terms of hard numbers almost 30% work in New York City and about 60% are spread across the Top 12 cities listed here covering 9 different states and the District of Columbia. The 40% other proportion covers 713 different cities and towns around the US so there is broad number of places around America that Australians are working.

An important point to note is note where the denials of applications are happening. In general these are proportional to the applications but not always. New York State (of which over 90% is for New York City) represents 30% of applications but 37% of all denials. In fact New York State has more denials (241) than all other states barring itself, California and Texas have approvals. California is the next highest with 25% of all denials versus 23% of all approvals. With 60% of all denials between these 2 states it is important to realize while the desire might be the highest to move here it also the most competitive for foreigners in general as well as Australians and thus also most prone to non-professional or worse behavior.

Figure 4: Top Jobs for Australians Working in the US
The nature of specifying a job on your ETA-9035(e) application to get your approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) for your E-3 visa is largely based on the way the prevailing wage works and the official sources of information where you can lookup this information. This is why these job titles look funny and broad in nature and may actually differ from the company job title you have that would be on a business card.

These categories in total comprise 54% of the total of all job roles on the E-3 visa over the past 12 months and the remaining 46% cover over 250 other job roles. In general IT Developers, Marketing, Senior Management and Finance roles dominate which correspond strongly with the companies that are top employers.

Figure 5: E3 Visa Salaries for Australian Workers in the US

For the approved applications over the past 12 months for the E-3 visa this was the annual salary level on the application paid to Australians. As you can see 63% of the salaries are between $50,000 USD and $150,000 USD and about 15% of the salaries are greater than $150,000.

Interestingly a couple of the very low salaries were as low as $17,000 USD and looking at the individual cases they were for farming type jobs in Georgia which would be seen to breach the bachelor’s degree, specialty occupation and prevailing wage conditions. I would guess in most cases these would be denied and may have been denied once they went for the US Consulate interview. The highest salary was one person and was $1.25M USD.