A few years ago, whilst researching overseas work, and particularly for the USA, I came across a visa known as the E3. I hadn’t heard of it before: I’d only really heard of the H1B for the US, the ‘normal’ one for people in IT.
The visa came out of the Australia/US Free Trade Agreement, and allows up to 10,500 Australians a year to gain permission to work in the USA – as opposed to competing for the pool of 65,000 for the H1Bs for the whole world. So it is a fairly accessible option if you want to work in the US (and are an Australian citizen).
Of course there are requirements: you need a university degree, or equivalent experience, in a ‘specialty’ occupation being the big one. It is also a ‘temporary’ work visa, so you need to show that you don’t intend to take up residence in the US. It is initially issued for 2 years, but is then renewable indefinitely, in two year increments. (Given that the visa is relatively new, how long you can stay on one for hasn’t been tested.) Among its pluses are that the spouse of the primary E3 holder is entitled to apply for a work permit as well once in the US.
I have some co-workers who are on the H1B, and my boss has commented that my visa was a lot less painful from his end than the H1B: so that’s a plus from the employer’s side of things. It also helped that the legal firm my employer uses has dealt with the E3 before.
If you’re interested in more information on the E3, there’s plenty of it on the web. I’m also happy to answer questions if you have them.
melbourne.usconsulate.gov – start here for the official word. Everything you need to know is here and on related sites. [Ed. I gave this US Consulate link to a friend who is looking at working in the US, and followed it through.. it’s s bit of a hunt, so here are the relevant, direct, links.]
General Non-Immigrant Visa info:
The E-3 Visa:http://canberra.usembassy.gov/e3visa.html
e3visa.info – for the stuff you can’t decipher from the Consulate sites and helpful advice.