How to move from Australia to America (New York City): Getting an E3 Working Visa and finding a job.
Updated: Dec 25, 2021
Ever dreamed of living in New York City? We certainly had for a long time, and after over ten years of dreaming, 2 months ago we finally made it happen! We'd always been told that getting a visa to move to the United States of America was something difficult to obtain, and you needed to be well advanced in your career to do so. That advice couldn't have been more wrong, especially if you are Australian. We are here to share with you tips in making the first steps in your move to New York City. This is advice we wish we knew years ago. We hope it helps you on your path to moving!
This blog post will focus on applying for jobs in America and getting your Visa as the first step in making your dream move a reality. We plan to do a few more posts as a series of tips in packing for your move, what do know before moving to New York and tips on renting and costs once moved. Stay tuned.
What Visa's am I eligible for as an Australian wanting to move to the USA:
E3 Australian Professional Specialty Visa:
Note - we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. We are sharing what we have learned based on our own experiences.
We honestly wish we knew about this visa years ago, as for Australian's it's the easiest path to living and working in America, no lottery systems, no ballots, no timing cutoffs to apply, all you need is a speciality occupation with professional knowledge and skills. There is no set definition of what occupations this includes, however it generally requires a minimum of a bachelors degree, some examples of occupations include business professionals (in my case revenue management and analytics). There are a limited number of E3 visas open each year for Australian's, 10,500, however as far as we've heard that cap has never been hit.
E3 Visa Requirements:
You must be an Australian citizen
You must have a speciality occupation - before you can apply for the visa you will need a job offer from a US-based company, with a letter from them explaining why you are needed as a specialist in your role.
Prove your intention to leave America after you stay-is over as this is a temporary visa.
E3 Visa Duration and Extensions:
While this visa is only valid for two years, one of the best parts of the visa is you can extend it as many times as you want! Make sure you allow yourself a few months to extend it before the expiry. You will need to leave America to do the extension and process it in a US embassy of a foreign country.
E3 Visa Cost:
Another benefit of the E3 visa is that it only costs USD 205 in application fees, there are no hefty sponsorship fees that a company is required to pay to employ you on this visa.
Brining Dependants on an E3 Visa: The E3D:
Another amazing feature of the E3 Visa is that you can bring dependants, which include spouses of any nationality (this was amazing for us as Andrew, being a British citizen was able to obtain an E3D - E3 dependent visa) and unmarried children under the age of 21. The E3D application process happens in parallel with submitting the E3 Visa, once submitted you will both be required for a visa interview and visas will be processed and renewed together.
Working on an E3D:
As of now, to work on an E3D, once entering the US you also need to apply for an EAD (Work Permit) which is only possible to apply after arrival in the USA. This can take between 5 - 7 months to process to be prepared for the wait, in some cases we've heard the wait can be even longer. However, we have heard that this legislation will change within the next 6 months to allow E3D holders to automatically work on this visa, this is still in a discussion so do your research. Another great thing about working on the E3D with an EAD is you can work in any occupation as a spouse, it doesn't need to be a speciality occupation.
Granting the visa: the application and interview process
The entire application to the approval process for us took 1.5 months. If you have a company that's hired you first, try and request they provide you with an immigration lawyer to help you through the process.
You can submit all of your applications online (This should include your application form, LCA form, a letter from your company, a digital copy of a US size passport photo and if applying with an E3D your marriage certificate). You then need an appointment at a US embassy where you will submit your passport. Ours was mailed back within 2 weeks after this. We did our initial visa interview at the US embassy in Singapore. However, for our renewal, we were able to mail in our application to Sydney without needing an interview the second time around.
Alternate Visa Options For Australian's wanting to move to the USA
L1 Intra-Company Transfer Visa:
Rather than trying to find a role in America before moving, another option to make a move feasible is to find a job in your home country for an American headquartered company. Once you are there, you can apply for a US-based role and be eligible for an internal transfer visa (L1). This is also generally easier to get than H1 Visas (though we are not lawyers so this is not legal advice, and we haven't personally been through this application process). This visa allows up to a 7-year stay and dependents are also eligible to join.
Other Visas to work in America:
This isn't the full list of visas you would be eligible for, there are of course others out there, we recommend doing your research to find which is right for you. We've heard of Aussies moving here after winning the green card lottery too. . Disclaimer again - none of this is legal advice, we are sharing our findings based on our own experiences.
How do I get a job in America:
Here are our recommendations for finding a role in the USA, and the steps we took:
If you're still studying for a a bachelors degree, or plan to start university soon, choose a field that will give you transferable skills and international exposure: For example, I studied Business with a major in international business and marketing and Andrew studied engineering - both specialised fields which allow for work anywhere in the world
Gaining professional experience - apply for companies with a global presence to gain international market exposure, ideally with US exposure or within an American company that has a regional office. Don't worry if you don't have this though, it's not necessary.
Set your Linkedin job alerts and notifications to the cities you want to live - To make sure you're notified when relevant roles come up, set your notifications to the cities you want to live.
Add your Visa eligibility to your resume and cover letter - Be sure to explain this in your cover letter and resume.
Use a recruiter who can pair you up with American companies that hire E3s: We came across Aussie recruit as a great option.
Finding Support Groups and Resources:
If you're planning to move to the US or New York City and a looking for further advice from other Australian's who have already done it! here are a few helpful pages:
Australian's in New York Facebook group - full of Aussies who will help with any questions you have
Aussie Recruit - Full of visa advice and recruitment services for those looking for jobs on an E3
American Josh - also full of helpful tips for Australians
We hope this helps! Check out our full blog for more moving builds and travel tips!
Follow us on Instagram: @littlesherpatravels
Follow us on TikTok: @littlesherpatravels