Filing USCIS I-129: Premium Processing Time for E-3 Visa
October 13, 2021
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Article by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.
October 13, 2021
If you are in the United States with an E-3 visa and wish to change jobs, you are now able to use U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) premium processing to expedite your job transition. In general, if you are an E-3 holder and wish to switch employers, you need to wait until your petition to change employers is approved before making the move from one position to another. In the past, E-3 holders often had to leave the U.S. to do this. That is no longer the case. In this article, we will discuss what premium processing is and the details that you need to know to request an expedited visa.
The E-3 work visa for Australian citizens was created specifically for specialty occupation workers from Australia. It can only be used by Australian nationals for the sole purpose of providing a service in your specialty occupation.
A specialty occupation is typically a position that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher or a foreign equivalent. You must be able to apply your specialized knowledge explicitly for your U.S. job position.
In order to be eligible for the E-3 visa, you must:
The period of stay for E-3 visa holders is two years, but you are allowed to extend your visa in two-year increments. To obtain your E-3 visa, your employer petitions on your behalf using Form I-129. The petition can also be used for the extension of stay and your employer needs a Labor Condition Application. The E-3 visa is closely related to H-1B holders. H-1B is for temporary workers with specialized occupations; they share similar standards for specialty occupations.
A major benefit of the E-3 visa is that your spouse may also apply for work authorization using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
For regular processing, Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, is filed at the following:
For E-3 applications, USCIS I-129 must be filed by your employer who is requesting either an extension of stay or a change of status. E-3 applications are sent to the USCIS Vermont Service Center.
For the combined request for Form I-129 and Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, your employer will send the petition to the following I-129 filing address:
Premium Processing Service
USCIS Vermont Service Center
Attn: I-129 E-3
30 River Road
Essex Junction, VT
All other direct filing addresses can be found on the USCIS Form I-129 filing address webpage.
Premium processing is a way to expedite the processing of either:
Both of these forms can be used to apply for a multitude of classification statuses. For example, Form I-129 can be used for nonimmigrant visas such as E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-2B, O-1, L-1B, and more. Form I-140 can be applied for specific employment-based immigration visas. The purpose is to accelerate the processing time for these visas.
Premium processing is filled out by E-3 visa employers by using Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service. Once USCIS receives your request, they will either send an approval, denial, intent to deny, or a request for evidence or investigation. All of this happens within the premium processing time frame.
USCIS guarantees a visa premium processing time of 15 calendar days at most. Processing time starts the day USCIS receives your Form I-907. After 15 days, you’ll know if you have an approved I-129 or not.
As of February 24, 2021, the option for premium processing for the I-129 petition was made available for E-3 visa holders. E-3 visa holders are now able to pay to expedite forms needed for job transfers. E-3 holders are able to change jobs in the United States, but they are not allowed portability. In this case, E-3 visa holders need to wait until their petition is approved before changing jobs.
Not being allowed portability served as a major issue for visa holders as the wait time for petition approval took over half a year to complete. Even for Australian visa online processing time, you may be waiting multiple months. Because of the long processing time, E-3 holders would need to leave the United States just to change jobs.
The need to travel for I-129 processing time has been a hindrance, particularly because of the COVID-19 pandemic; travel restrictions and even a delay in processing times have made the process of changing jobs difficult for E-3 visa holders. To clarify, Form I-129 is the petition for nonimmigrant workers. Petitioners must request premium processing with form I-907 in addition to their primary petition.
With USCIS premium processing now an option for E-3 visa holders, the opportunity to stay in the United States and change jobs has become attainable in a shorter amount of time. Your employer just needs to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, to expedite your E-3 visa application or extension.
As an overview of terms, let’s go over the difference between “status” and “visa”:
If you hold E-3 status and want to extend your stay as an E-3 holder, whether with the same employer or a new one, you are allowed to file for an extension to the E-3 you already have and can stay in the United States as your forms are processing.
An important distinction is that, if your current E-3 status has expired after two years and you leave the U.S., you can only return to the United States when your extension is approved. If you are applying for a new visa, you can’t work for the new employer during the processing time. That’s why the new allowance of E-3 premium processing is so important for E-3 holders.
In general, E-3 status is what is used to stay as an employee in the U.S.; E-3 visa is what is used to gain access into the U.S. to work for your U.S. employer. The Form I-129 extension is not a visa. You would not be able to come back to the United States after you leave. It is your status for your stay in the U.S., not your allowance back into the U.S.
Yes, you can! According to USCIS, if you have already submitted your Form I-129 petition and it is pending, you need to send your premium processing request to the service center to process your Form I-129. For the case of an E-3 visa, you will send the I-907 request to the Vermont Service Center.
Be sure to send in a copy of your transfer notice with your USCIS premium processing form. It is crucial to send your Form I-907 to the same service center in order to maximize your Australian work permit visa processing time.
There are various fees for Form I-907 depending on which visa you are requesting. Visa premium processing fees range from $1,500 to $2,500.
When requesting premium processing, you will either file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-140, which is the immigrant petition for a foreign worker. Form I-14 is to petition for a worker to become a permanent resident.
For E-3 petitioners, your employer will file Form I-129 on your behalf, to petition for you to work for them. The premium processing fee is $2,500 for E-3 petitioners.
The E-3 visa change of employer is extremely similar to the H-1B change of employer petition. However, the main—and highly significant—difference is that the H-1B petitioner is able to start their employment as soon as USCIS receives their petition. E-3 visa applicants, on the other hand, must wait until their request is approved before starting at their next place of employment.
With premium processing now an option, a U.S. employer can petition for their E-3 employees from the United States rather than from abroad. If the E-3 holder is already in the United States, the U.S. employer can submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS to request an E-3 extension.
Along with Form I-129, the new employer must have a Labor Condition Application (LCA) for your particular position.
Both new E-3 visa employers and current employers applying for E-3 extensions can apply for premium processing. If you are changing employers, you can quickly transition in the 15 days it takes to do premium processing. You just need to file a change of status on your existing visa.
The immigration lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have over 30 years of experience in immigration law. We are well-versed in the latest updates USCIS has implemented for E-3 visa holders. If you have any questions about USCIS premium processing, your visa status, or other immigration-related topics, reach out to us today. You can call us at 213.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!View Similar Articles