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How do I change employers on an E-3 visa?

Australia on a map

The E-3 visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire Australian workers in specialty occupations. This blog post will summarize how you can change an employer if you are already in the U.S. on an E-3 visa.

Change of employer procedure through USCIS

Your new prospective employer will first need to file Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) with the Department of Labor. The employer will also need to create a Public Access File and will need to post a Notice of Filing, among other things.

Once the LCA has been certified, the employer can file an I-129 petition with USCIS. With the petition, the employer should submit also an Employer letter in which he/she will explain what the company does, what the employee will be doing, and go over employee’s educational qualifications. Additionally, you will need to submit documents showing that you have been maintaining your status and your educational credentials.

I lost my job, how much time do I have to find a new one?

If you/your employer terminated your job, you will generally have 60 days grace period during which you can stay in the U.S./look for a job, but you cannot work during this time (unless you apply for a Change of Status during this period and you receive the Approval notice from USCIS).

Can I start working once the Change of Employer petition is received by USCIS?

Unfortunately, no – this so called portability rule only applies for Change of Employer H-1B (not E-3 petitions). Your new E-3 petition has to be approved by USCIS in order for you to start working.

How long does it take USCIS to make a decision on the petition?

USCIS recently allowed E-3 petitioners to pay a Premium Processing fee. This means that if you pay the premium processing fee, USCIS will make a decision on the petition within 15 days. If you don’t pay the premium processing fee, the petition will most likely be pending for several months and you will not be allowed to work during this time.

Can I apply for a visa at a Consulate?

Yes, another option how to change employer is to apply for a new E-3 visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. The employer would still have to file a new LCA and comply with all the PAF requirements, but instead of filing the petition with USCIS, you would apply for the E-3 visa at a Consulate. In the past, this used to be a preferrable option as you would submit a DS-160 form at a Consulate, and you would be able to schedule an interview within a couple of days/weeks.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many of the U.S. Consulates abroad are backlogged, and if you leave the U.S., it may take weeks/months to get the visa and to get back to the U.S. As a result of this, it may be better to file a Change of Status petition with USCIS if you want to change the employer and you are already in the U.S.

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