The United States has one of the larger expat communities of Australians in the world. Part of the reason is that it’s relatively easy for Australians to obtain an E-3 visa.
What is an E-3 visa?
It’s a nonimmigrant visa earmarked for citizens of Australia. Like an H-1B, it requires an employer sponsor and a specialty occupation. It’s ideal for any Australians who would otherwise qualify for an H-1B but they don’t want to go through the lottery.
Remember, this is a single intent visa. It means that the E-3 is only for people who can demonstrate that:
- They do not intend to permanently reside in the United States.
- This is a temporary trip.
- Their plan is to return to Australia at the end of the engagement.
- There are ties to Australia that will bring the person back.
To put this into context, an H-1B visa is for dual intent, which means you can either plan to be a nonimmigrant and leave or you can be an immigrant and stay in the U.S.
Benefits of an E-3 visa:
- Work permit for spouses
Spouses of E-3 visas holders can work in the U.S., even if they’re not Australian citizens. You do have to apply for a work permit but it’s not really discretionary. The only criteria are:
- Are you in the US?
- Are you an E-3? Are you the dependent spouse?
- Is the primary spouse maintaining valid status?
- Are you maintaining valid status?
- Visa cap
E-3 visas have a cap of 10,500 visas annually. This number does not include spouses and children. So if every Australian has a spouse and 2.3 children coming to the U.S., that would be an additional 30,000 visas for Australians who could come here.
- It’s available all year round.
The E-3 visa requires no electronic registration process. There’s no lottery and no restrictions on when an employer can submit a petition. It’s non-random and it’s available year-round.
- It’s renewable.
It’s indefinitely renewable in two-year increments. However, you have to show nonimmigrant intent.
- It’s relatively quick and painless.
It does start with having an employer and a job offer letter. The employer has to agree to be on board with this whole process. If somebody is physically in Australia, you get to skip that whole I-129 petitions and the USCIS adjudication.
For more information and resources on the different visa options, check out Immigration Law for Tech Startups podcast. If you’d like to listen, head over to 016: E-2 Visa for Founders and Employees.