How to move from Australia to the U.S. with an E2 Visa
The E2 visa is one of the most popular options for Australians wishing to live and work in the United States, and for good reason. The E2 visa allows an Australian citizen to either start or buy a business in the United States without a job offer or sponsorship.
Common questions Australians have about the E2 visa:
How does this differ from the E3 visa?
In fact, the two visas have almost nothing in common. The E3 visa is most similar to the H1B visa, and it requires a job offer. It also requires that the visa applicant have a specific degree and/or experience within a certain industry.
The E2 visa requires no job offer. You can start or buy a business in the U.S. and get the E2 visa in order to live and work at that business here in the United States. You do not need to have any specific education or experience. Instead, you only need to be able to show that you can successfully “direct and develop” the company.
In addition, the E2 visa has no limits to the type of business in which you can work. The only imitations are that the business is legal, that you can support yourself and employees with the business and that the business is “for profit.” Other that those vague parameters, you can choose any business or industry in any state.
Where will I interview?
You will end up interviewing at a U.S. consulate in Australia. There are currently three locations where you can get an interview:
Each of the locations has a slightly different way of receiving the application and scheduling interviews, but the requirements for the E2 visa are the same at all locations. When determining where you will do your interview, your main priority should be convenience.
How long does it take to get an E2 interview in Australia?
Note that each U.S. consulate in Australia handles the E2 visa application review process a little differently, and the timeline is slightly different, as well. Also, please note that the time it takes to review an E2 visa application and get an interview changes throughout the year according to many different factors: officers out/sick/on vacation, number of applications received, COVID-related closures, etc. However, here is a general timeline for the E2 visa interview in Australia.
Sydney – Sydney takes applications via email and will review the application for about 2-4 weeks before reaching back out via email to let you know your interview date. This date is typically 1-2 weeks in the future from the date of the email. Sydney generally schedules E2 visa interviews on Thursdays only.
Melbourne – Melbourne also accepts applications via email. The timeline between when you submit the application and when you go to the interview will likely be 4-6 weeks.
Perth – Perth is the only U.S. consulate in Australia that takes applications via mail. So, please make sure to add mail time into the equation. That said, they are usually pretty quick when it comes to interview appointments.
Please note that since COVID began, it may be almost impossible to get to a U.S. consulate outside of your area due to local restrictions, so please take caution if you want to apply at one of the consulates further from your residence.
Have you ever helped any Australian citizens get the E2 visa?
Yes! In fact, Rupert Law Group has helped many Australians get E2 visas. So far, we have had overwhelming success when it comes to the E2 process for Australian citizens. (NOTE – every case is different and past success isn’t indicative of success in your specific case.)
Please note that we have helped Australians during COVID, as well. It is possible to apply for the E2 visa in Australia even with COVID restrictions.
I hear that the visa fee in Australia changed. Is this accurate?
Unfortunately, this is accurate the visa fee for Australians changed and is currently $3,574 USD. This fee is not due to the government if and until you are approved for a visa. This visa fee is payable for every person in your family coming with you as an E2 dependent, as well. You can pay via credit card on the day of your interview.
Is there a way to bypass the interview and apply in the United States?
Yes, this is possible. This type of process is called a “change of status.” In “normal” times, we don’t recommend this often for a variety of reasons. However, during COVID, this may be a way to get the E2 visa without having to deal with cumbersome COVID restrictions in Australia.
If you choose to go this way, you must have a current U.S. visa. So, for those who usually travel to the U.S. on ESTA, a change of status won’t work. If you are currently in the U.S. on a valid visa, please reach out and we can talk you through the steps and timeline of changing status. You can also review our blog post about changing status for E2 visa investors.