Australians are among the lucky nations that fall under the Visa Waiver Program of the United States, which means they do not need a US visa to enter the country. Instead, they just have to apply online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is a very simple and quick process, that costs way less than a visa.
However, this does not mean that every Australian wishing to visit the US can enter the country with just a Travel Authorization, since there is no guarantee that each applicant will be granted with an authorization. Even when the applicant obtains this authorization, the U.S. Immigration officials at the port of entry will determine whether a traveller should be allowed to enter or not.
On the other hand, Australians that wish to visit the US for other reasons aside of traveling, need to obtain a visa in order to be allowed to enter. In this article, we will go through the US visa types for Australians, how to apply for a US visa from Australia, meaning the process that an Australian has to go over in order to obtain an American visa, including the requirements and tasks one has to fulfill in order to qualify.
Electronic Travel Authorization for Australians
Before starting to check what you need to do for a visa for USA from Australia, ask yourself “Do I need a visa for USA from Australia?” If you have not applied for an Electronic Travel Authorization yet, and you do not know for sure whether you will be granted with one (or even if you are very confident that you will not be able to get one) do not immediately start a visa application. Instead, try applying for an ESTA, since not only the process is very easy and quick, but it also costs very little ($14USD).
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system established by the United States of America, which determines the eligibility of travelers to visit the US, under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is administered by the US Department of Homeland Security and permits the residents of 38 countries to travel to the US for tourism and business for up to 90 days, with just a travel authorization, including Australia.
However, the citizens of these 38 countries, when traveling to the US for other reasons as employment or medical treatment, must apply for a regular visa as regulated by the US visa policy. In addition, if you are an Australian who wishes to enter the US with the purpose of business or tourism, but who has been rejected from getting a travel authorization, despite of applying more than once, then you will have to apply for a regular visa.
US Visa Types for Australians
The US visas are categorized in two main types, through which Australian nationals can enter and remain in the country for a limited or unlimited time, depending on the specific type of visa.
These are the immigrant visas, which enable their holder to live and work in the US, and the non-immigrant visas which enable their holder to enter the country for reasons like tourism, medical reasons, study, seasonal work etc.
The US immigration authorities depending on the reason behind one’s purpose to enter the country have established a wide number of visas.
E-3 Visa for Australian Citizens
The US E-3 visa which is also known as the Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia, has been established by the US immigration authorities only for the Australian citizens, and falls under the E visa category which is the Treaty Trader and Investor visa.
This visa is only for Australian citizens who wish to work in the US in occupations that:
- require from the applicant to possess a higher education qualification (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral Degree)
- have body of specialized knowledge and is practical
Though it is not specified what type of jobs qualify as specialty occupations, jobs as engineers, political scientists, medical practitioners, business managers etc., and similar are included.
- The main requirements than an Australian has to fulfil in order to qualify for this type of visa are as follows:
- The applicant needs to be an Australian citizen (Australian permanent residence holders do no qualify).
- The applicant must have a job offer in the US, which must qualify as a specialty occupation
- The applicant must have the required educational and job experience qualifications
- If applicable, the applicant must have the necessary licenses to practise the specialty occupation
US Visa Required Documents
Every type of US visa has a number of standard required documents that the applicant will have to submit. In addition to those the applicant should submit other supporting documents such as:
- Confirmation page that you have completed the application form DS-160
- Appointment confirmation page (if applicable)
- Passport – valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of planned stay in the US, which must have at least one blank page in order to be able to affix visa.
- One photo – of 5 x 5 cm size, color and taken within the last 6 months. If you have successfully uploaded a picture to the DS-160 application form, then you are not required to submit an additional photo.
- Previous US visas (if applicable)
- ACRO – which is a police certificate you obtain from the authorities in your country, that shows if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted.
- Letter from an approved physician, if you have a medical condition that could have a bearing on your eligibility for a visa (the Australian embassies and consulates have a list of approved doctors, therefore check this list and carry the medical controls at one of them. If you bring a report from another doctor that has not been approved by the embassy then your application will be rejected.)
- If you are applying for a B-2 visa then a letter of invitation may also be required
- If you have ever been rejected from entering or deported from the US, you must also submit documents in this regard, which tell the reasons behind the deportation / rejection.
US Visa Application Process for Australians
A very important part of your whole application is the interview. Actually this is the part when the authorities decide whether a visa shall be issued to the applicant or not. The interview mostly helps the consular officer whether the applicant intends to remain in the US, and if there is another purpose behind the visa application besides the one presented.
Every US visa applicant from Australia should appoint the interview online by following some easy steps. First of all, after deciding what type of visa you need in order to enter the US complete the online application form DS-160 and then print the confirmation page. Take this page with you when you attend the interview.
The application form contains questions about personal information as you full name, marital status, address, birth details, contact number and email, passport details, family information, education and work information etc.
There are also a couple of questions on security and background information, which include the questions listed below:
- Do you have a communicable disease of public health significance such as tuberculosis (TB)?
- Do you have a mental or physical disorder that poses or is likely to pose a threat to the safety or welfare of yourself or others?
- Are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or addict?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, even though subject of a pardon, amnesty, or other similar action?
- Have you ever violated, or engaged in a conspiracy to violate, any law relating to controlled substances?
- Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?
- Have you ever been involved in, or do you seek to engage in, money laundering?
- Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
- Do you seek to engage in terrorist activities while in the United States or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities?
- Have you ever or do you intend to provide financial assistance or other support to terrorists or terrorist organizations?
- Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?
- Have you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide?
After you answer all questions honestly, you have to pay the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) application fee and schedule an interview.
The MRV Fee for visa applicants depends on the type of visa one applies for. The schedule is tiered as follows:
- MRV Fee – $160
- Petition Based Applicants (H, L, O, P, Q, R) – $190
- E-1, E-2 & E-3 visa applicants – $205
US Visa Interview for Australians
Every applicant from the age of 14 to the age of 79 that applies for a USA visa from Australia have to appear in person at the US consulate or embassy for the US visa interview. There is one US embassy in Canberra, and three Consulates in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Applicants under 14 and over 80 are eligible to apply by a courier since they do not have to attend an interview.
On the day of your appointment, show up on time, since if you are late they will probably cancel your appointment. Have all your documents with you, and nicely organized so you will not have a mess in your hands when you meet the consular officer.
Before you attend the interview which in general is a meeting with a consular officer (interviewer), the embassy / consulate staff will collect, data enter and examine your application documents. You will have to give your biometrics, meaning they will scan fingerprints, and then you will have a few-minutes-short interview with a consular officer.
Application processing time
When applying for a US visa from Australia, successful applications take no more than three to five workdays to get approved. Despite of that, sometimes the application processing may take up to 6 months or even longer. Your passport will remain at the embassy while your application is being processed. After the approval or rejection of your visa, the embassy or consulate will deliver your passport. You cannot collect your passport by yourself.
In case of US Visa Denial
In case of Visa Denial for US visa from Australia you will not be able to get your fee money back. However, you can still re-apply in the future by submitting a new application and paying the visa fee again.
In order for your application not to get rejected for the same reason again, you should present proof of changes in the circumstances since your previous application that got rejected.