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Arrange visas

I’m an Australian currently able to legally live and work in the United States. If you’re looking to move here and want some background on arranging visas hopefully what I’ve shared below will help your research.

B1/B2

This is a combined business/pleasure visa for non-immigrants. This was the first visa I applied for to gain entry to the US. You must leave and re-enter the United States every six months on this visa. Also, you cannot work on the B1/B2 however I arranged to study online with an Australian university. There is a separate visa for studying in the US.

E3 and E3D

My husband has an E3 visa. This is only available to Australians who will (or are) working with specific qualifications/requirements in the US. The E3D is a visa you can apply for as the wife/husband of an E3 visa holder. When I first came to the US I spent about five months on a B1/B2 visa as we were not yet married. Note the United States does not legally recognise defacto partnerships as Australia does.

After we were married in Australia I stayed there to change my B1/B2 to an E3D visa. The process was the same, I had to apply using a DS-160 form, have an interview at a US Embassy and provide appropriate documentation (see the knitty gritty). The E3D is connected to the E3 visa holder (and their employer) however the E3D holder can work in any profession or industry in the US.

Some knitty gritty

How to apply
For the B1/B2, E3 and E3D you need to complete the online DS-160 form via the US Dept. of State Consular Electronic Application Centre. You will create a login and be able to return to your saved application which is useful when you need to find paperwork half way through. At the completion of the DS-160 you need to make an appointment at a US Embassy for an interview.

Photograph
As part of the DS-160 you need to provide a photograph that meets specific requirements. An Australian passport photo does not meet these requirements. I shot our photographs at home with a DSLR camera and resized them in PhotoShop. I recommend this approach for sanity and cost effectiveness, if you’re not confident seek out someone who loves photography and PhotoShop and ask them to do the honors! The other option is to go to a store that does passport photographs and ask them to shoot exactly as the requirements outline.

Cost
There will be fees and they will be non refundable. The B1/B2 cost me $160 and was paid as part of my online application. The E3D cost a similar amount. There may be other costs. Make sure you print any receipts of payment and take them to your interview. Better safe than sorry.

Additional documentation
This was an area I spent a lot of time on to support I was in a relationship and would eventually return to Australia to live. I included photographs, bank statements and proof of assets that would remain in Australia. The purpose is to demonstrate you will return to Australia after living abroad.

US Embassies aren’t in every city in Australia
I had to fly to Melbourne both times for my interviews adding another $300 or so (flights and accommodation) to the cost of applying for the visa. For people living in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth you’re in luck.

The interview
This can be a somewhat nervous time. You feel like all your future plans are in the hands on one person, that’s because they are. Make sure you read up and follow instructions regarding what to take, what to leave behind and what to expect. Also give yourself plenty of time to arrive. I recommend choosing one of the day’s first appointments to avoid longer waits later in the day.

After going through security you will have a number assigned to you. When your number is called you will be asked to hand over some of your documents. Then you’ll wait some more and be called to a different window, to speak to another person. The interview I had was not in a meeting room, it was more like going to a bank teller. Be prepared to truthfully answer any questions about yourself and your history or plans, not just those relating to your visa application.

Approval
You will be given an indication of your approval at the interview. Following that you’re free to leave and await your passport in the mail. Do not book flights before you receive your passport as you never know it may be held up e.g. Australia Post error.

Renewing a visa
We’ve just started the process of renewing our E3 and E3D visas for the first time (this is required every two years). I’ll share that experience soon.

If you’re organised, do your research (then check the information you’ve found twice) and tick all the boxes for requirements there’s a great chance you’ll be on your way! Good luck!

Check for the latest visa information for Australians and the US.

2 Comments

    • Kristy Dixon -  19 March 2014 - 4:17 pm

      Hey thanks Michael that’s really helpful! Will hopefully save others some photo headaches. Cheers Kristy

      Reply

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