What’s an E3 Visa?

When we decided we wanted to move to the States, we had a buttload of research to do. There were lots of visas to choose from, but some seemed to expensive or restrictive (I’m looking at you, H1-B!). We looked into the E3 visa, and were surprised to find how easy it was to get one. My Husband was given an E3 visa after being offered a job in Boston, and I was given the E3D visa as his spouse. We were flown over in August 2017, and the rest is history!

Background

Introduced in 2005 as part of the Australian-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), the E3 visa was created to help Australian professionals obtain work in the US. About 10,500 E3 visas are set aside for Aussies each year, and yet only around 2,000-3,000 of the visas are actually given out each year. Seems a lot of Aussies don’t know about the visa at all!

Eligibility

So, who can get an E3 visa? To qualify, you must tick all of the following criteria:

  • Have an actual offer of employment in America
  • Is an Australian citizen
  • Has a four-year degree (and no, it doesn’t count if you did a three-year degree over the course of four years)
  • Has a degree that is relevant to the job they have been offered

Benefits

The E3 visa is great because it gives the holder the ability to work in the US on an easy-to-renew visa. You can renew it every two years, as long as the company you’re with likes you and wants to keep you there. There’s no limit to the amount of times the visa can be renewed. If you change companies, you just need the new company to fill out sponsorship forms, but they don’t necessarily have to pay anything, as the cost is so minimal. It’s easier for the Australian to pay for it instead!

On top of that, if you’re married, your spouse can work in the US too. Apparently, the Canadian TN visa doesn’t allow spouses to work! Crazy how a country so close by has a worse visa than good ol’ Australia! The spouse gets an E3D visa, which is extremely flexible. Basically, they can work at any job, no matter what they studied or what their last job was.

Downsides

I’d have to say, as a spouse, the E3 visa has a downside: The spouse can’t work for about three months (though, in my case, it was six months). Spouses have to apply for a work authorization card (EAD), which is meant to take up to 90 days. However, many people have found it has recently started taking much, much longer. I only got mine in February 2018!

The E3 visa holder must only work in the field they studied in. So, for Husband, he has to stay in an engineering company or role to keep the E3 visa. It’s not a huge downside, but it may mean he can’t make a big career change.

So, that’s that! Let me know if you have any questions or anything to add!

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