In the last few months we are getting so many questions about this and almost all of them are very similar with just slight variations. So just to be completely clear again we will spell out a few facts and major points of note based on own research and listening to hundreds of people’s experiences over the past 3 years of this site. Many of these experiences you can read across this site along with additional information particularly on our prior posts about;
- E3 Visa General Information
- E3 Visa US Consulate Interview
- E3 Visa Bachelors Degree and Specialty Occupation conditions explained
- Extending, Renewing or Changing Employers on the E3 Visa
Now here are the major points of note that apply to ALL cases. Just because your case varies slightly from this does NOT mean the US Consulate assessing your case are going to give you any special treatment as they assess hundreds of cases daily and are often making snap decisions so is best to be well prepared.
- The Bachelors Degree requirement is specifically for the position you are applying for that as advertised or if not advertised for in the normal course of events would have a bachelors degree as a minimum required criteria
- If you do not have a bachelors degree as a minimum, then you have to prove that any post high school education experience you have (completed or not) combined with your relevant years of professional experience in the area of the specific role you are applying for at least at minimum equals the level of a US Bachelors degree
- While not a stated policy anywhere, given the length of a standard US Bachelors Degree is 4 years, 3 years of relevant professional experience would equal one year of a degree. So that would mean as a rule of thumb, 12 years of relevant professional experience would equal a US bachelors degree (relevance is important as if you are applying for a investment finance job, experience working on a hotel front desk is not going to matter)
- Even though many Australian undergraduate University degrees are 3 years, the US would consider that equivalent to as US Bachelors degree
- Getting your experience and/or partial education accredited by a US company or institution as to its equivalency to a US Bachelors Degree will certainly help (possibly a fair bit) but is by no means a guarantee as to whether you will be approved
- Each case is at the total and ultimate discretion of the US consulate around the world to which you are applying and more particularly to the specific case officer in your case. That Consulate and case officer is under no obligation to provide you full reasoning behind their decision making and you have no right of appeal. You can only try again fully to apply for a new e3 visa application with new information if you have it
- Given that and the lack of clear stated black and white guidelines, you may be denied on technicalities and depending on where you apply you might be denied with a similar case and background to somebody else. This is obviously not fair but is the current system
- If you get denied, that does not preclude from applying again for a future US visa nor does it necessarily count against you. However it is always on your permanent record and you may get asked about it a future US Consulate interview. Given a US Consulate is “never wrong”, you would be well advised to not answer disparaging a previous consular official or consulate in a subsequent consulate interview if asked about a previous denial
- The more specialized your occupation you are applying for, the potential for them to be more relaxed about your level of experience/education. Again this is all completely arbitrary but if you are applying for a highly specialized bio-tech or nuclear role then your chances of being approved on relevant experience alone is probably higher than a generic business role
- In terms of supporting documents apart from getting a degree equivalency done, you could bring references on official letterheads, official HR documents explaining tenure, time at the company, job title and duties of the role you had, tax returns/financials/official company docs if it was your own company, awards and other certificates, diplomas and anything highlighting the level of your experience and education that could be provable if the US consular official so desired by calling somebody or looking up databases online. (it is certainly not advisable to fudge things hear b/c once you lose credibility with the Consulate, it would be hard to regain it). There is no official list of documents, but the more proof the better
- If you are applying for an occupation that you are not sure whether it is a specialty, bring copies of your Bachelors Degrees as well as information about the company, the position and duties as well as copies of where the job was advertised showing the bachelors degree minimum criteria all helps
- With professions where you need US licensing to actually do the job it is a little grey as to whether you can undertake this after you arrive and once you have started work but where possible getting this in advance is helpful and/or having your employer clearly state a plan of action around this when you arrive (NB: most licensing is state based in the US so you would need it from the State where you are working)
In recent times we have been hearing anecdotal experiences from some people, that Canadian based US Consulates are not even processing first time new E3 visa cases brought before them but only renewals of subsequent E3 visas whether the same or a different company. This is NOT a stated policy anywhere and the US Consulates in Canada all allow you to book online a new E3 visa appointment. However given the wait times for interviews for the US Consulates in Canada and the expense of traveling and staying somewhere, it is important to share this type of information that some people seem to be having at face value.
There may be underlying reasons whether pertinent to their specific case and/or due to the case load at a particular Consulate as to why this may be happening but given we don’t know, it is important to be wary. Whether some US Consulate locations are more favorable and easier then others is really unknown and can really only be gleaned from people’s experiences.
Ultimately with all of this it is very arbitrary and may seem unfair. However that is the US Immigration system and you just have to as best you can navigate through the misinformation and lack of clear public guidelines. We encourage you all to share you own experiences here and be as detailed as possible as to your background, your position and which US Consulate you applied so you can all learn from each other as that is definitely the best way to determine success.