My E3 Visa Renewal Process

Although I’m late in posting this, I’m happy to say that my E3 visa was renewed back in February. This means the USA is stuck with me for another two years – yay!

If you haven’t already done so, you should check out my three posts that explain how I scored my job in the USA on an E3 visa and ended up in Orlando, Florida from Australia:

Part I: Seeking E3 Visa Employment
Part II: 20 Seconds of Courage
Part III: The E3 Visa Process

An E3 visa is valid for two years and renewable indefinitely, so long as your sponsor is happy to continue to renew the visa for you. My first two years flew by and before I knew it, it was time to renew!

There are two ways you can go about an E3 visa renewal:

1. You may either return to Australia and re-apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (or any U.S. Embassy/Consulate outside of the USA) with the same documentation that is required for an original E3 application, or

2. You may have your employer file form I-129 with USCIS. This option does not require the employee to leave the U.S., but requires a USCIS fee of $320 and can take approximately 3-6 months to be approved.

For me, option 2 seemed like too long a time of waiting and wondering. If  I was denied under option 2, it would be a mad rush to organize option 1 as an alternative before my current E3 expired. It should also be noted that you are not allowed to leave the U.S. within the 3-6 months of waiting for option 2 to be approved. Because of the above reasons, I went with option 1 and will outline my process below.

Please Note: I renewed my E3 visa in Canada. As a result, many of the website links provided below relate to the Canadian U.S. Embassy. The renewal process will still be the same no matter which country you choose to renew in, but please be aware you will need to find the correct links based on your chosen country.

E3 VISA RENEWAL PROS & CONS

PROS:

– Easy.
– Quick.
– No break in employment.
– Renewal fee is cheap ($270 USD).

CONS:

– Must renew at a US Consulate/Embassy outside of the USA.
– Travel/accommodation expenses make a seemingly cheap process, somewhat expensive.
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The E3 Visa Renewal Process

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STEP 1: LABOR CONDITION APPLICATION (ETA-9035)

You may recall from your initial E3 visa, that your employer needs to file only one piece of paperwork for you which can be done online at zero cost to them. This form is referred to as a Labor Condition Application (LCA) or ETA-9035

You employer must file the electronic LCA for non-immigrant workers, form ETA-9035E, through the Department of Labor’s iCERT Portal System. Your employer should have an existing account already set up from the first time they had to do this for you during you initial application.

The purpose of this form is to show that your employer will be paying you fairly in accordance with your continuing role and location. If approved by the Department of Labor, a Labor Condition Application (LCA) is sent back. This process usually takes no more than five business days. You will need your own hard copy of the approved LCA so print one out.
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STEP 2: ELECTRONIC VISA APPLICATION (DS-160)

You must electronically complete a Nonimmigrant Visa Application, also known as a DS-160. The form can be found and completed online here. Before filling this out, you must decide which U.S. Consulate or Embassy you will be traveling to to renew your E3 visa. A completed DS-160 is location-specific so please ensure you decide which location you will visit prior. I chose the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada for my E3 visa interview.

The DS-160 application process involves uploading a digital passport-style photo of yourself. You can read up on the approved photo requirements here and test your photo to see if it is within acceptable guidelines here.

DS-160 INSTRUCTIONS:

– Any errors you make on the DS-160 after submission will require correction by submitting an entirely new form.
– Since you are renewing an existing E3, your purpose of travel will be ‘Returning E3 (E3R)’ – see image below.
– The DS-160 must be completed in English.
– Applicants who do not generate an actual barcode, in addition to the barcode number, and who do not click on the final ‘submit’ button have not correctly completed the DS-160.

Once you have correctly filled out and submitted your application, you will need to print out a hard-copy of the DD-160 confirmation and barcode number.

E3 Visa Renewal Process.

STEP 3: MACHINE READABLE VISA (MRV) FEE

You are required to pay the visa application (MRV) fee before moving on. The E3 visa fee is set at $270 USD.

E3 Visa Renewal Process

To do this, you will need to create an account over at the Official Visa Services of the United States of America website found here. To get to the account creation page, click ‘Create Account’ in the top menu bar, or click here. You will need the following three things:

a) Passport number
b) Date of Birth
c) Nationality

Follow the instructions to select Trip Purpose, preferred Consulate to schedule an appointment, and other details related to your visa application. You will then be asked to make your MRV fee payment of $270 USD. If you have already paid the MRV fee, you will be asked to confirm your payment by entering the “MRV Fee Receipt Number.”

The MRV fee payment can be made using the following options:

a) Credit card payment: Visa, Mastercard, or American Express
b) Cash payment at one of the branches at Scotiabank
c) Over the phone

I chose to pay online using a credit card – it’s the easiest option. Make sure you screen capture and print out a hard copy of your MRV fee receipt for proof of payment.
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STEP 4: SCHEDULING YOUR E3 VISA INTERVIEW

You will need to schedule an appointment at your chosen U.S. Embassy or Consulate through this service (you already created an account log-in for this during Step 3).

To schedule an appointment, you must have the following ready:

a) DS-160 confirmation (barcode) number
b) MRV fee payment receipt number
c) Your passport number

Follow all steps required and select your desired interview day and time. I chose to wait until I had a date and time locked in before I went ahead and made travel arrangements. You never know how early the next available interview time will be, for me it was a three-week wait!

Save a copy of your E3 visa interview confirmation and print a hard copy out to keep. It should look similar to the one below.

E3 Visa Renewal Process

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STEP 5: CONTINUATION OF EMPLOYMENT LETTER

You may recall that during your initial E3 visa interview, you required an official ‘offer letter of employment’ from your employer. Nothing was mentioned of this, but I did have my employer write and sign a letter stating my continuation of employment with my current company.

During my interview, the interviewer did request to see this, so I’m glad I was pro-active.
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STEP 6: E3 VISA RENEWAL INTERVIEW CHECKLIST

Here are all the things I gathered together to take with my to my E3 visa renewal interview at the U.S. Consulate in Ottawa, Canada:

– Passport
– Signed continuation of employment letter from my company
– Completed & signed LCA (ETA-9035)
– Completed DS-160 with printed confirmation barcode page
– Proof of my MRV fee payment
– Printed visa interview confirmation page
– A copy of my bachelors degree (not required)
– Supporting documents: car insurance statements, bank account statements, anything to show that I was living where I said I was and was able to continue to support myself.
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STEP 7: THE E3 VISA RENEWAL INTERVIEW

Apart from waiting around for an hour or two, my interview was smooth and quick. The interviewer asked a couple of questions about my job and role, asked how I was enjoying Florida and then took a look at all my paperwork. It took a total of 2-3 minutes from beginning to end and then he informed me that my E3 visa renewal had been approved. YAY!

You can arrange to have your passport mailed back to wherever you are staying, otherwise it will be delivered to the nearest LOOMIS branch to you and you will be required to go and pick it up.

I had initially booked my departure flight for a week from my interview date, but my passport was delivered with my new visa in it quicker than expected (48 hours after my interview!!!). As a result, I was able to bump my flight up and fly back into the USA – home sweet home for another two years 

E3 Visa Renewal Process

 

UPDATE: 

As of May, 2015, I have been selected as a DV Lottery 2016 winner (Green Card Lottery winner). I will be documenting the entire process here on my blog in case any other E3 visa holders are going through this same process. I have chosen to do an Adjustment of Status as I already reside here in the USA, instead of heading back to Australia to file my paperwork. Any blog posts pertaining to this can be found here.

 

E3 Visa Renewal Process
E3 Visa Renewal Process
E3 Visa Renewal Processinitial

If you are looking for a short-term tourism/business visa (valid for 3 months) then you will need an ESTA, you can obtain it online at ESTAPERMITS.ORG.

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