By Last Updated: May 17th, 2023

E-3 Visa to Green Card GuideThe change of status from E-3 Visa to Green Card allows Australian workers to obtain permanent residence in the United States. The E-3 Visa is a nonimmigrant work visa for Australian citizens with specialty occupations. Specialty occupations require the practical and theoretical application of a specialized body of knowledge in jobs such as healthcare, computer science, and education. A Green Card is a document that is given to non-US citizens who have attained lawful permanent residence in the US. 

Going from E3 Visa to Green Card is possible through family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, or investment-based immigration. Family-based immigration grants a Green Card to Australian specialty workers who are immediate relations of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Employment-based immigration grants a Green Card to persons with extraordinary ability, professionals with advanced degrees, and skilled or unskilled workers. Investment-based immigration is done through the EB-5 Visa Program. The EB5 Visa allows for permanent residence for foreign investors who can invest a minimum capital in a US business. The minimum investment should generate at least 10 full-time jobs for Americans. 

How to Change Status from E-3 Visa to Green Card?

There are two ways in changing status from E-3 Visa to Green Card. The first method is through an adjustment of status wherein the Australian worker applies for a Green Card while in the US. An adjustment of status is processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). E3 Visa holders should generally apply for a Green Card after they have been in the U.S. for more than 90 days. Following this rule ensures that there would be no violation of the Australian worker’s nonimmigrant intent established during their E3 Visa application. The second method is through consular processing which is done outside the United States. The E3 to Green Card application is processed at the US Consulate in Sydney.

The next section discussed your options in converting your E 3 Visa to an Immigrant Visa Green Card.

1. Family-based Green Card Sponsorship

Green card sponsorship from a family or immediate relative is applicable to foreign fiancé(e)s, spouses, children, parents, or siblings of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. E3 Visa holders who are immediate family members of US citizens or permanent residents can be petitioned for a Green Card through the following. 

  • Submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to get a Green Card for applicants within the US.
  • Filing DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application for applicants outside the US. 

2. Employment-based Green Card Sponsorship

Employment-based Green Cards are issued to foreign workers who have permanent jobs in the US. There are 3 Employment Green Cards Australian workers can apply for to go from E3 Visa to Green Card. The EB-1 Visa is granted to persons with extraordinary ability (EB-1A), outstanding professors or researchers (EB-1B), and multinational managers or executives (EB-1C). The EB-2 Visa is given to professionals with advanced degrees (EB-2A), persons with exceptional ability (EB-2B), and persons with a National Interest Waiver (EB-2C). The EB-3 Visa is for skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers. 

These are the 5 steps to changing an E 3 Visa to Green Card through Employment Immigrant Visas.

  1. Secure a US employer that sponsors a Green Card for Employment. 
  2. Get a labor certification from the Department of Labor (DOL). The U.S. employer files a labor certification to show that no U.S. worker can fill the job position at the prevailing wage. EB-1A Visa and EB-2C Visa applicants do not need to have a labor certification or employer sponsorship. 
  3. Submit Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker to the USCIS.
  4. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence if you are within the US.
  5. Fill out DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application if you are outside the US.

3. Investment-based Green Card

An investment-based Green Card is obtained through the EB-5 Visa Program. The EB-5 Visa is an immigrant visa for foreign investors that can invest a minimum capital in a U.S. enterprise to create at least 10 full-time jobs for American workers. A successful EB5 Visa application grants an initial 2-year conditional Green Card for the foreign investor. The conditions can be removed to grant lawful permanent residence in the US for 10 years.

These are the 4 steps for changing an E-3 Visa to EB-5 Visa to obtain a Green Card. 

  1. File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor to the USCIS.
  2. Accomplish DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application if you are outside the US.
  3. Submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence if you are in the US.
  4. File Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status to gain a 10-year Green Card. 

How Long Does it Take to Change Your Status from E-3 Visa to Green Card?

The processing time for a change of status from E3 to Green Card is between 18 to 30 months. The exact processing time is dependent on the type of visa Green Card you applied for, the priority date for your country, and the service center you applied for. The application process is longer for applicants from China and India with over 10 years of retrogression (backlog) in their Green Card immigrant visa applications. 

What are the Requirements Needed to Change E-3 Visa to Green Card?

These are the basic documents needed to transition from E-3 Visa to Green Card.

  • Valid passport
  • Two US Visa photos
  • US job offer (for employment-based Green Cards)
  • Approved Labor Certification (for employment-based Green Cards)
  • Proof of your extraordinary ability and achievements/National Interest Waiver (for EB1 and EB2 Visas)
  • Letters from prior employers
  • Civil documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce certificate)
  • EB 5 minimum investment, business plan, and evidence of legal source of funds
  • Approved Form I-130/Form I-140/Form I-526
  • Signed medical and vaccine documents
  • Court and criminal records, if any

When Can You Apply for Green Card Visa After E-3 Visa?

Applying for a Green Card via an adjustment of status should be done within the validity of your E 3 Visa. The E3 Visa is valid for an initial 2 years and can be extended indefinitely for 2-year increments. You need to have entered the US for more than 90 days before you apply for a change of status from E-3 Visa to Green Card so as not to violate your nonimmigrant intent. 

How Long Does the E-3 Visa to Green Card Visa Take to Process?

The change from E3 Visa to Green Card Visa takes between 18 to 30 months to process. Australian workers can shorten the process by skipping the labor certification stage through self-petitioning if they have an extraordinary ability or have a National Interest Waiver. The EB 5 Immigrant Investor Visa is another option that does not require labor certification and sponsorship to get a US Green Card.

What is the Difference Between the E-3 Visa and Green Card Visa?

The E-3 Visa and Green Card Visas are two different categories of US visas. These are the differences between the Green Card and E3 Visa.

  • Visa category. The E-3 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for Australian citizens in specialty occupations. Green Card Visas are immigrant visa categories that grant permanent residence in the US.
  • Eligibility requirements. The E 3 Visa is only for Australian citizens who are employed by US companies for specialty occupations. Green Card Visas are given to varied groups of foreign citizens including immediate relatives and family of American citizens or permanent residents, immigrant workers, and immigrant investors.
  • Visa validity. The E3 Visa is valid for 2 years and can be extended unlimitedly for 2-year increments. Green Card Visas are valid for 10 years and can be renewed unlimitedly.
  • Employment restrictions. The E3 Visa holder can only work for the company that sponsored their E-3 Visa. Green Card Visa holders and their dependents can work for any employer anywhere in the US without sponsorship.

Is the E-3 Visa Similar to EB1?

No, the E-3 Visa is a different type of US work visa compared to EB1 Visa. Here are the main differences between the EB-1 Visa Vs. E-3 Visa.

  • Visa category. The E 3 Visa is a nonimmigrant temporary work visa. The EB-1 Visa is an immigrant visa for permanently employed foreign citizens in the US.
  • Eligibility. The E 3 Visa is only for citizens of Australia who are working in specialty occupations. The EB1 Visa is for persons with extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational managers and executives of any nationality.
  • Employment limitations. The E3 Visa worker can only be employed by the US company that sponsored their visa. The EB1 Green Card holder can work for any company in the US. EB1A Visa applicants can apply for a Green Card even without employer sponsorship.
  • Length of stay in the US. The E3 Visa holder must return to their home country upon the expiration of their visa. The EB-1 Visa holder is allowed to stay and work in the US indefinitely.

Do you Need E-3 Visa to Apply for Green Card Visa?

No, an E3 Visa is not a requirement for Green Card application. Obtaining a Green Card is possible if you have a family sponsorship from an immediate relative who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, an immigrant visa sponsorship from a US employer, or a minimum capital investment through the EB-5 Visa Program.

Is Green Card Required for Employment?

No, a Green Card is not required to gain employment in the US. You can work in the U.S. if you have a temporary nonimmigrant working visa. Temporary work visas however do not allow for permanent residence in the US. You have to return to your home country once your nonimmigrant work visa expires. An employment Green Card allows you to stay permanently in the US and work for any employer. 

Can I Work in the United States without a Green Card?

Yes, you can work in the United States without a Green Card by obtaining a valid temporary work visa or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Popular temporary U.S. work visas include H-1B Visa for specialty occupation workers, L-1 Visa for multinational managers and executives, and O-1 Visa for persons with extraordinary ability. The E-3 Visa is of a similar category as these nonimmigrant temporary work visas that allow for employment in the US under specialty occupations. 

What is E-3 Visa?

The E-3 Visa is a temporary U.S. work visa for nonimmigrant Australian citizens working in specialty occupations such as medicine, business management, political science, and mathematics. The E-3 Visa resulted from the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) that was signed into law on May 11, 2005. The E-3 Visa application process begins with the filing of a labor of certification to the Department of Labor (DOL). 

What is Green Card?

A Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) is a document given to non-US citizens who are allowed to live in the United States permanently. Having a Green Card removes the limitations on education, employment, and portability that are typical of nonimmigrant U.S. visas. You and your dependents are eligible for U.S. citizenship after 5 years of being Green Card holders. 

Who is Eligible for an E-3 Visa?

The E3 Visa has the following eligibility requirements.

  • The applicant must be entering the US to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is a job that requires the practical and theoretical application of a specialized body of knowledge. Examples of specialty occupations are law, research, healthcare, education, and computer science.
  • The applicant must be a citizen of Australia. Permanent residents of Australia are not eligible for the E-3 Visa.
  • The applicant must have a job offer from a US employer.
  • The applicant must possess the appropriate academic credentials (bachelor’s degree or higher). Australian workers who lack the necessary degree can demonstrate degree equivalency through their professional or work experience.
  • The applicant must have an unrestricted license, registration, or certification if applicable to their occupation.

Who is Eligible for a Green Card Visa?

Green Card Visas are divided into different categories with their own respective eligibility criteria. These are the eligibility requirements for Green Card Immigrant Visas as per the USCIS. 

  • Green Card through Family. Eligible applicants should be immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent residents such as foreign fiancé(e)s, widow(er)s, spouses, and children. 
  • Green Card through Employment. Eligible applicants should be foreign immigrant workers with permanent employment in the US or immigrant investors.
  • Green Card as a Special Immigrant. Qualified applicants are religious workers, Afghan or Iraqi government employees, or international broadcasters.
  • Greed Card through Refugee or Asylee Status. Eligible applicants are asylees and refugees admitted to the US at least 1 year ago.
  • Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims. Eligible applicants are foreign citizens with T or U nonimmigrant status. 
  • Green Card for Victims of Abuse. Eligible applicants are victims of battery or cruelty.
  • Green Card through other Categories. Qualified applicants are foreign citizens covered by the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness, or the Cuban Adjustment Act.
  • Green Card through Registry. Qualified applicants are foreign nationals who have continuously resided in the US since before January 1, 1972.