News National Want to work in the US? This is Australia’s little-known visa opportunity
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Want to work in the US? This is Australia’s little-known visa opportunity

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Tighter working visa laws in the United Kingdom could see thousands of Australians booted from the country next year, but there is still hope for those looking to work abroad.

Access to the UK has become more difficult in the past two years for Aussies looking to work and plans to toughen legislation are set to make the situation even worse.

A survey by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, obtained by The New Daily, found some UK immigration policies “discriminate against Australians” and were a barrier to employment.

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Nearly two-thirds of the 96 employers surveyed said further restrictions on Australian workers would “significantly” affect their ability and willingness to recruit them.

Investment was also expected to be hit, with 51 per cent saying it would be a significant factor in future decisions.

“I think this limits the talent pool for Australians in the UK,” one respondent said.

“It is far easier now to obtain a visa for the States – many Australians are now choosing New York over London due to visas.”

uk visa aus
The number of Australians travelling to the UK halved between 1999 and 2011. Photo: Getty

This could very well prove to be true.

According to one immigration expert, Australians have certainly won the visa lottery in the United States, with a little-known secret that offers an indefinite stay.

Visa puts Aussies in a unique category

There are 10,500 E-3 visas to the United States available to Australians each year, but since it was first offered in 2005 an average of just 3500 have been issued annually.

The E-3 visa was a product of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, and remains “a category that people don’t know very well”.

“Generally you can apply for it year-round because the quota doesn’t get used up like the H-1B visa,” Nevett Ford senior lawyer Melissa Vincenty told The New Daily.

Click the owl for an explanation of the visa types mentioned in this story:   

“When you get into the H-1B process, it is quite complicated, quite expensive, the quotas are used up very quickly – twice as many people apply for the visas each year as they have available (a total of 65,000) – so Australians have a unique category above all others, like the Chileans and Singaporeans.”

Similar to Australia, both Singapore and Chile have a special visa, the H1B1, available outside of the general quota.

The catch is…

catch
The catch is you have to have to find a sponsor, as well as  a degree or 12 years’ experience. Photo: Getty

To qualify for the E-3, the applicant must be an Australian national travelling to the US to work in a specialty occupation.

The catch is you must have an equivalent bachelor’s degree qualification or 12 years’ experience in that field, and be sponsored by the company you plan to work for, which must be registered in the US.

“They have some similarities and some differences [with the H-1B], the main difference is a spouse can work as a dependent, and the other main difference is it is done at a US Consulate or embassy abroad so it is not done in a two-part process where you send in a petition first, get it approved and then get a visa … it is done in a one-step process,” Ms Vincenty said.

Furthermore, it is document driven and, if you can fulfil the eligibility requirements, the “window of deniability” is quite small.

The visa costs $270 and lasts for two years. You can reapply indefinitely, but you have to be able to prove your stay is temporary.

Sponsor first, travel later

Blogger Ashleigh D’Mello went to the United States when she finished university to work. Travelling on a J-1 visa, she later returned to Australia to change to an E-3 to work in the fashion industry.

Getting a sponsor on board was the most difficult part.

“If you have an interview with a company and they are asking you questions about the visa from their end, just make sure you are able to explain it to them,” she told The New Daily.

“Definitely speak to people who have been through the process before.

“You can’t just get an E-3 and move to the US, the visa is tied to the company you are working for.

“Don’t believe when lawyers tell you it costs $4000 to $5000 for them to do the visa for you, there are certainly better ways.”

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