An E-3 visa is a United States work visa exclusively for citizens of Australia.
The E-3 visa came into being as an indirect, legislative offshoot of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) of 2005. As far as U.S. work visas go, the E-3 visa shares many structural similarities with the more well-known H-1B non-immigrant visa (albeit with several important differences).
As with other work visas, there may come a time when the E-3 foreign national employee may desire/require a change of employers, yet still wishes to remain in the United States under the original E-3 visa.
In such cases, the foreign national will essentially be seeking a transfer of their E-3 visa status from the original employer to the new employer.
E-3 Visa Transfer
There are two ways to transfer E-3 employment from one employer to another:
- By applying directly at a US Consulate abroad for a new E-3 visa stamp; or
- By applying in the US through the service center for a change of employer.
The most common way to transfer an E-3 to a new employer is by applying for a new E-3 visa stamp at a US Consulate abroad. To do this, one must prep a new E-3 application, along with a Labor Condition Application (LCA), and make an appointment at a US Consulate or Embassy abroad.
Although we are using the term “transfer”, this application is really no different than a new E-3 visa filing, since there is a new employer and new position. For more application info, please reference our previous blog post: Learn Where to Apply for an E-3 Visa.
If one is already in the US in the E-3 status and they want to transfer jobs in the US without making a trip abroad, they could file a petition in the US with a Service Center to transfer jobs. This sort of process is a bit different than the one mentioned above, in that it does not require a trip out of the US and it will not result in a “visa stamp”. What it will result in is an approval notice from the USCIS granting approval to work for the new employer.
This route is less often undertaken because it could take approximately 2-4 months for the petition to be reviewed (premium processing is unavailable for E-3 visa petitions) and is typically scrutinized much more heavily than an application presented at a Consulate. Additionally, upon approval, one only receives an approval notice, which allows them to stay in the US and continue working for the new employer, but it does not result in an actual passport visa stamp. This means that if one wanted to leave the US after approval, they would need to apply for an E-3 visa stamp, which would in essence lead the individual to apply for the same E-3 twice.
Additional E3 Visa Transfer Information
Additional important facts regarding the E-3 visa transfer process are as follows:
- A foreign national may submit an unlimited number of E-3 visa transfer applications.
- The same educational and experience credentials that were required for the original E-3 visa application are also required for the new position. Similarly, the new prospective employer must be vetted in the same fashion as the original employer. In essence, there is no difference between a first-time E-3 applicant/application and a subsequent transfer E-3 visa application.
- It rarely makes sense to apply for an E-3 transfer through a service center in the U.S. The only time it would make sense is if time is not of importance and the applicant has no desire or plans for travel outside of the U.S.
- Transferring to a new employer may be problematic if your original employment ended and you remained in the U.S. beyond the duration of the grace period.
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