Tag Archives: specialty occupation

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,

How To Work In The US (Part 3): Job Applications & Visa Process

(this is a series and a real life experience from one of our readers who wanted to share his journey to work in the US in the hope it would educate and inspire others)
Part 1 – J1 Visa & Early Days
Part 2 – Living & Finding Work in NY

Getting a “real” job and moving to the E3

My goal was always to find a way to stay in New York beyond my J1 visa year. About six months into my J1 I got a job working for a theatre management company. They knew that if they wanted to keep me beyond the end of my J1 they’d have to sponsor me, so I began the process of researching the E3 visa. To be honest, most of what I learned about it I found here on e3visa.info. CJ’s articles on the visa process were insightful and easy to read. While the process isn’t the same for everyone, having a resource like this is immensely helpful. So if you’re planning to get on an E3, go back and read every article on this site.

I have a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Drama and Theatre Studies from an Australian university. My job definitely requires a college degree – the tricky part was proving that it requires MY college degree.

When you have a visa sponsor and are about to fill out the LCA, do a bit of research on the Department of Labor website about the BEST way of categorising your job. If your job doesn’t easily fit a DOL category, try finding one it does. We categorised my job as “Associate Producer” (not my real title) because “Producer” is a recognised specialised occupation according to DOL. Specialisation is also important: the title you pick has to be a job that requires a Bachelor’s degree or higher to do. In addition, you have to be making the median wage level for that job. This can sometimes be tricky: my job certainly didn’t pay anywhere near the median wage, but we were able to argue that I made a certain amount as an hourly rate and worked part time. They don’t need any supporting documentation to prove this information, so while I certainly wouldn’t advise lying on your visa application, you are able to stretch the parameters a little if you’re clever.

The US consular interview is really straightforward. It’s best to be as prepared as possible – I brought letters of support from old employers, my university results, my CV and other supporting documents. Ultimately the only thing they asked for was my LCA and a letter from my employer, which stated how much they were paying me and what my duties were. They asked how I found my job, what my job description was like, and what my¬† degree was in (though they never asked to see my paperwork). They asked about my ties to home (my entire family is over in Australia, so that was easy) and then stamped my document and sent me on my way. My passport with my E3 visa in it arrived three days later and I came back to the States a week later.

All in all, the process is actually incredibly simple. Once you have a job, filling out the LCA correctly is the trickiest part of the process – and it’s really not difficult at all, it just requires a bit of thought and maybe some inventiveness if your work situation isn’t really straightforward. I freaked out a lot and met with a lawyer who tried to convince me I couldn’t do it alone. I nearly paid them $4000 before actually paying attention to what was required of me and realising that I COULD do this on my own. I am SO relieved I didn’t do it through a lawyer; I would never have forgiven myself for paying that much for something that was so easy to do.

The hardest part is actually GETTING the job. If you plan to come over and look for work, your best bet is to get onto the B1 tourist visa and stay as long as you need to until you get a job. In this climate, it will take you longer than the 90 days allowed on the visa waiver (unless you are highly qualified in a specialist field). Bring your life’s savings with you and be prepared to go through it – whether you’re looking for work on the J1, E3, or H1B – looking for work can be exhausting and demoralising. But if you want it badly enough, and more importantly, if you KNOW what is required of you from the visa process, you will be fine.

My final three pieces of advice:

1) Know the visa process inside out. Be able to answer any question your future employer might ask you. The advantage of the E3 is that it costs your employer nothing to sponsor you, but they will probably still have lots of questions.

2) Read the instructions on the consular website. Tattoo them on your forehead. And for god’s sake, REMEMBER YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE VISA FEE AT AUSTRALIA POST (if you apply in Australia) and you HAVE TO COME TO THE CONSULATE WITH A REGISTERED POST ENVELOPE. The three people ahead of me at the consulate forgot one or both of these things and had to leave and go to the post office and come back and wait in line.

3) Don’t get discouraged – the E3 really is designed to make life easier for you and your employer. Finding a job is possible, it just takes time and energy.

Good luck!