Completing your E3 visa renewal doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Some of the steps (especially pre-interview) can be a little difficult to understand though.
I’m setting out all of the steps for you here, to make sure you’ve got everything before you leave the US for your visa interview.
This article is for those who have already gotten their E3 visa and need to renew it for permission to work in the US for another two years. Having said that, it is probably also helpful for those applying for an E3 for the first time.
More Information: Get your guide to moving to the US here.
Let’s begin with the basics.
E3 VISAS: THE BASICS
An E3 visa is a special class of US work visa that is only available to Australian citizens (and their spouses/children, who do not need to be Australian citizens).
It’s a useful visa class to apply for because 10,500 E3 visas are issued each year, which means it’s easier to obtain, at least theoretically.
It is granted on the basis that you work in a “specialty occupation” and already have a job offer before applying.
More Information: Best websites for finding a US job.
What is a Specialty Occupation?
So what is defined as a “Specialty Occupation”? The definition is slightly vague, but basically it’s a job that requires you to have a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a specific specialty.
It’s also defined as the “theoretical application of a highly specialised body of knowledge. There is no actual list of occupations that fall under this category, it all depends on whether you can show that your job falls within the above definitions.
How do you prove that your job is a specialty occupation? You’ll need documentation of one of the following:
Specialty Occupations Defined
- A bachelor’s degree (or higher) or the equivalent. This is usually the minimum entry requirement. You may also need to provide proof that:
- Your degree is a common requirement for the position in this industry, or that it is unique and complex and can only performed by someone with a degree (or equivalent).
- That the individual employer normally requires proof of a degree to hire for this position.
- If the above do not apply, you need to prove that the job duties are so specialised that they require someone with complex knowledge.
Examples of occupations that can fall under an E3 visa are teachers, surgeons, lawyers, architect, engineers, IT workers and accountants.
What else do you need to apply for an E3?
As mentioned earlier, you need to have an offer of employment in the US to qualify for this visa. This means you’ll need a signed contract or letter of employment to prove it.
Proof that you’re an Australian citizen. This usually comes in the form of your passport, so make sure that’s up to date.
They also ask for proof that your stay will be temporary. You can provide this in the form of a residential address in Australia that you plan to return to.
If your occupation requires special licenses in the US, that you have them before applying for an E3.
E3 VISA RENEWAL (All The Documents)
Let’s talk about the process of kicking off your E3 visa renewal now. Your company’s lawyers should handle filling out all the necessary paperwork, however, if you’re not that lucky, here’s what you need.
Labor Condition Application for Non immigrant Workers (9035 and 9035E)
The Labor Condition Application (LCA) is identical for H-1B and E3 visa applications and is filled out by your employer on your behalf.
It sets out your job title, period of intended employment, wage rate and level, and your employer’s information. Think of the LCA as protecting you from unfair wages, benefits and working conditions.
However, if there is a strike or “lockout” while the LCA is being signed and submitted to the government or while it’s being considered, lawyers must inform the Employment and Trading Commission. In this instance your LCA won’t be processed until the labor dispute is resolved.
The LCA is a “public” document, meaning that it may be posted in your workplace (in two locations) for 10 days. Copies may also be provided to each non-immigrant employee in the company.
Keep a copy of this handy, because you’ll need it to file a DS-160 (the form you’ll need to fill out before organising an E3 visa appointment).
Academic Equivalency Evaluation
As mentioned above, you need to prove that your degree (or equivalent) is comparable to similar degrees offered in the US.
It also needs to be judged in terms of whether it is appropriate for the job you have applied for/gotten.
This is usually done by submitting a copy of your graduation certificate and transcript to an organisation tasked with examining your credentials. If you’re looking for an organisation to complete this evaluation for you, please make sure they’re part of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services.
Here are a few organisations you can look into, that provide this service:
- The Trustforte Corporation (New York, NY)
- World Education Services Inc. (New York, NY)
- Educational Records Evaluation Services (Sacramento, CA)
- Evaluation Service Inc. (Chicago, IL)
- Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (Milwaukee, WI)
- International Consultants of Delaware (Philadelphia, PA)
- Foundation for International Services, Inc. (Edmonds, WA)
The organisation will provide a report outlining your academic credentials, as well as listing the US degree that your Aussie degree is most similar to. It may also list the courses you studied and look into the reputation of the university or TAFE you studied at.
Copies of Documents
It doesn’t end quite yet, you’re also going to need certified copies of important documents to prove your identity and credentials.
You’ll need to include a certified copy of your degree, U.S. Baccalaureate or equivalent training. If you don’t have those, you’ll need some kind of evidence that you have the equivalent experience of such a degree.
If you need a license to practice your profession in the US, you’ll need to provide a certified copy of that.
Last, but not least, you’ll need the receipt to show you’ve paid for the application.
FILL IN YOUR DS-160
As you may have already noticed, the United States is fond of using letters and numbers to differentiate between forms.
Once you’ve gathered all of these documents, it’s time to fill out a DS-160 online. You must do this before booking a visa interview.
You’ll need to know where you want to be interviewed before you begin filling out the DS-160. This is the first thing you select before beginning the form. If you change your mind after finishing the DS-160 and want to be interviewed in a different city or country, you’ll have to fill out a new form.
The DS-160 is less known as the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application form, and is used for “temporary” travel to the us. Consular officers use the information gathered from this form to process visa applications. It is vital that you triple check that all the information you submit is correct.
It’s best to gather all of the necessary documents before you begin filling out your DS-160, so that you can do it all at once. There’s less chance of making a mistake this way, although there is an option to save your spot and return later.
Documents and Information you’ll Need Before you Begin
- Passport: Make sure it’s valid and has more than six months before it expires.
- Travel Itinerary: If you know when you’ll be flying into the US.
- Previous Trips to the US: You’ll be asked to detail the dates of your last five trips to the US. In certain cases you may also be asked for other countries you’ve visited over the previous five years.
- Labor Condition Application: You will be asked to enter the number from your approved LCA.
- US Driver’s License: If you have a valid US driver’s licence you’ll need to provide the license number.
- Previous Visa: For renewals, you’ll need to list your previous visa number and issue date.
- Previous Employers: Gather details of your previous five workplaces, including office addresses, phone numbers, your duties and your supervisor’s name.
- US Job: The address and phone number of your new/current job in the US and details of your duties.
- US Details: A contact person within the US (can be a friend, relative or your new supervisor) as well as an address you plan to stay at if you have one already.
- Recent Passport Photo: At the end of the form, you’ll be asked to upload a passport-like photo of yourself standing in front of a white or off-white background. No smiles or glasses are allowed and your hair must be back from your face. See below for all of the requirements.
Sort through the questions slowly and check over each page before moving onto the next. Remember that the US lists dates as month/day/year instead of the Australian day/month/year, so be sure you have that correct.
Every question on the form needs to be answered, unless it includes a checkbox marked “optional”, in which case you can mark the box and leave the answer blank if it’s not applicable to you.
There is a little bit of jargon thrown in for good measure, but there are usually explanations alongside to help you out.
For example, “Have you been ten-printed?” is asking if you have had all eight fingers and two thumbs finger printed at your previous visa interview.
Last, but not least, there are a couple of pages of ‘Yes’/’No’ questions that focus on security and your background. Don’t be surprised when you’re asked if you are, or have ever been, a prostitute, plan to launder money, or commit espionage.
Digital Photo Requirements
This doesn’t need to be a professional photo. It’s fine to get a friend to photograph you in front of a white or plain background, as long as you follow the requirements listed.
It must be a square image after it is cropped, with a minimum size of 600px by 600px and a maximum of 1200px by 1200px. When you get to this section of the application, there is a free image cropper tool available to help you get the proper dimensions.
It must be a colour image (so no filters or fancy work on top). Save it as a JPEG file and make sure that the file is under 240KB in size.
Take a photo just before you fill in your DS-160, as it needs to be taken of you within the last six months and with your face and body facing the camera.
Make sure you’re not smiling and have both eyes open and don’t wear any uniforms (except religious garments if necessary).
The commonsense stuff: no hats or head coverings that obscures your hairline, no shadows over your face, no glasses (unless you can’t remove them for medical reasons), no headphones, or hands-free devices. Hearing aids or devices are allowed.
You’re Not Done Yet
The questions are done and dusted and you’ve managed to find a photo of yourself that meets all of the requirements. There’s just one more, very important, bit.
Make sure you print out your DS-160 confirmation page and take it to your interview.
BOOKING YOUR E3 VISA RENEWAL APPOINTMENT
Now it’s time to book your appointment at a US Consulate. If you haven’t already, check the US Embassy website for a list of embassies around the world.
If you want to do your interview in Australia, view this page for the current wait times (the amount of time before an available interview slot).
When you’re ready to book, go to the Apply for a US Visa page, enter your details, pay the fee (around $250 Australian) and book your appointment.
The process is the same to apply in countries other than Australia. Please use the below links to book appointments in:
Please note that if successful, your passport will be taken by the US Consulate to add your new visa, then mailed back to you. This can take anywhere from a few days to 10 days, so plan accordingly.
Get all the detailed information you need for the E3 Visa interview right here!
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